• Here’s the Story

    I wrote a book called The Forest for the Trees and it’s an advice book for writers. For four years, I blogged every day about the agony of writing and publishing, and the self loathing that afflicts most writers. A community of like-minded malcontents gathered and thus ensued a grand conversation. Now, the most popular posts are gathered in Greatest Hits ( a work in progress) Gluttons for punishment can scroll through the archives. If I've learned one thing about writers, it's this: we really are all alone. Love, Betsy
  • Archives

Little Red Wagon, Little Red Bike


I met with a young writer today. And by young I mean twenty. She’d published an essay in a national paper that I thought was exceptional and I reached out to her. She sent me more work and I was really impressed again. We talked for an hour or so about her background, her writing experiences, the different kinds of writing she does, the project she’s working on now. She knew she wanted to write since she was about seven. That’s when I started keeping diaries of my hot dog consumption. We also talked about what path she might take after college. God help me but I encouraged her to keep writing. I hope her parents don’t come after me. I know I shouldn’t encourage young people to write but I could’t help it. She had that thing.

What is that thing?

There Were Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things


My view is that writers are loners, outsiders, chameleons and con artists. Thanksgiving, therefore, is a trial. Family is a trial. Warm feelings are confusing. THe only thing I don’t feel ambivalent about are the baton twirlers; I love all the hope implied in a silver rod turning around in the sky like an acrobat before it’s caught in the chubby hand of a girl with the sun in her eyes.

How will you get through the day?


Don’t Stop Believing



LAST WEEK’S CONTEST judged by the brilliant debut author of CALF, Andrea Kleine. And the winners** are:
Katherine Weber for Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr. One year I had a job teaching theater to middle school kids. I had one class in the morning and one in the afternoon and sometimes in the break I would go to the movies. One day I saw the film adaptation of Requiem for a Dream and then had to go back and teach theater games to 8th graders. That was rather difficult.

TristaIsShort for Last Days by Brian Evenson. Evenson is a master at creeping out on the porous borders of religion and the physical body. I haven’t read this particular novel, but I see it contains a detective with my last name (albeit misspelled, IMHO.

Jwelling for 1984 by George Orwell. Double plus good.

Check out Andrea’s  interview on Brad Listi’s Otherppl series:

And more: http://www.americanmicroreviews.com/calf-by-andrea-kleine

**I want to thank everyone for participating. Winners please email me your snail address for your copy of Calf. Thank you Andrea!



You’re Wearing Out Things That Nobody Wears


No shit. Sebastian Junger shows up on The Affair. You know, the program I’m watching because I’m still in love with McNulty. Junger has a cameo. He plays himself and he says he claims to use reiki to help him write. Really? Let’s talk about this. I’ve never tried any alt methods to help with writing. On the contrary, I’ve always felt that writer’s block is god’s gift to man. I’m old school: the only thing that produces writing is writing. Plus, I love my demons way too much to release them. Plus, I’m ticklish.

What about you? Massage, meditation, yoga, long walks with a stick? What helps?

Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin

Some years ago, I read a manuscript called CALF, a brilliant, ambitious novel about the eighties, about violence, and a world where a Washington socialite guilty of murdering her daughter and John Hinckley could both wind up at St. Elizabeth’s for reasons of insanity. And become romantically involved. I got down on one knee and asked the author, Andrea Klein, if she would have me as her agent. Our walk to the altar of publication was long and full of pot holes, but we got there. CONGRATULATIONS ANDREA on the publication of Calf. You slay me.

What is the most violent novel you’ve read and how has it affected you? I’ll ask Andrea to choose the top three responses and send the “winners” copies of CALF. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Both a Little Scared, Neither One Prepared

 It’s almost dark. Leaves skittering. For a moment, I think I see a bear upright and dancing under the lamplight. Then it’s gone. I’m trying to think of the next scene in the script I’m writing. THis is new for me. I don’t usually think about what I’m going to write: I just write. I figure it out after. A man in a red jacket is walking on the other side of the street. We look at each other. He is probably trying to guess my age. I am trying to ascertain whether he is a murderer. Do I slow down or hasten my steps. I could go two ways with the script. Or twenty. It feels like there is a key, but of course there isn’t. Force it don’t force it. Fuck it don’t fuck it. Please don’t kill me. What are you afraid of?

You Are My Love and My Life, You are My Inspiration

Detective McNulty becomes the writer Noah Soloway in The Affair. My McNulty! He’s older, thicker, and his back is waxed. He is also having more sex than most writers. For fuck’s sake he’s a NOVELIST. His editor is a wiry, vest-clad, bespectacled chap who brings up Steinbeck and expense accounts. Noah won’t compromise on his ending! The editor wants a murder! C’mon Noah! Play ball! Noah has dedicated his new novel to the woman he is having THE affair with. When Noah is out, Allison spies the pile of pages on his desk — the novel in progress. She lifts up the title page to see the dedication page: To Allison. She shivers with recognition of their love.

Who would you dedicate your book to?


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