• 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

I Send You All My Love Every Day in a Letter

What do shrinks and agents have in common?


Guys, when I was a baby editor, I had lunch with a big deal agent. It was July and though she was sitting at table with me, she had already checked out. In our pathetic attempt to make conversation, she asked what I was doing for the summer. I was making 22K; I was picking my nose for the summer. I asked if she was taking a vacation. I have never forgotten her response, “Any agent worth her salt takes August off.”

This may seem random, but when did Jennifer Garner become a shill for Capital One?

They Say We’re Young and We Don’t Know


Starting Season 3 tonight. Possible double header. How did it come to this: looking forward to a TV series (albeit a great fucking one) and a 100 calorie skinny cow pop.

Husband: Is there anything you want from the store.

Wife: Those Skinny Cow pops for the one hundred calories. DOn’t bring home the sandwiches or the cones, they’re like 150 calories!!!!!

Husband: Okay, I’ll try to find them.

Here I am in fucking limbo. Will he find the pops? Will he get the wrong ones? Will McNulty shag the Prosecutor? Will David Simon step out from behind the curtain and put a single bullet in my head?

Peace and Love, Have a great weekend. Betsy

p.s. what does Friday night look like in your part?

And (and) (and) you put the load right on me

Yesterday, on the way back to my office after a lovely lunch with one of my favorite editors, I saw a young woman waving a clipboard. We made eye contact and she had a big smile. “Shit,” I thought. I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to hear about saving whales, the environment, supporting NPR, Planned Parenthood, etc. I want to get back to my office and do more email. As I got closer, she took a few steps closer to me and started her pitch. And I went down. I don’t know if I tripped, or caught my sandal on something, or blacked out, or was abducted, but I went right down the sidewalk on my hands and knees.

I’m writing from my tv room watching the season 2 finale. My foot elevated, my big toe iced. Do you believe in karma?

The Movie’s Over, it’s Four O’clock and We’re in Trouble Deep

First of all, to all you daisies still out there: thanks for the warm welcome back. I luff you. I lerve you. I love you. I wanted to post last night but I went for the third episode of THE WIRE. Although one of the benefits of the THE WIRE is that you can do some emailing while watching when the verisimilitude goes deep and it’s boring for 5-7 minutes. Another thing: i have three seasons to go and I’m already feeling sad about it ending. Lerner, living in the future living in the past. Also, let’s talk about insomnia. Me=Benadryl.

How do you get to sleep?

Either We Lovin’ or I’ll See You Tomorrow

index card

Two-episode night. McNulty fucks two prostitutes while on the job. There’s a flow chart of criminals that resembles my bulletin board except I’m looking for narrative, structure, plot points. Let’s talk about index cards: salvation or desperation. When I put my poetry MFA manuscript together, I put all my poems on the floor and circled them a hundred times, ordering and reordering. I had a green kimono and a pack of Marlboro Lights. I was twenty four. Smart and stupid. In love with line breaks. Great to see all of you.

When I meet writers now some ask me if I’m still writing poetry. Stopped trying. Gave it up. Lost it. What about you?

Fuck being on some chill shit

Season 2, episode 8, I am neck deep into the Wire. I’m in love with the characters. I’m in love with the writing. David Simon, will you marry me? My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds That rise from the lake to the trees. I wrote four screenplays. I have to write forty. Four hundred. I have to ride shotgun. I have to keep my head down. McNulty is on a bender, fucking a waitress believably, crashing his car. The best lines are the throwaway lines. The string on the detective’s readers. THe Honeywell. The ceiling fan. The mole on the chin of a working stiff.

Anybody home?

I Used to Be Disgusted

Author Photos 005OhPrettyCover

Remember when I was blogging every day and this beautiful creature left the most amazing comments on the suck of life, the agony of writing, the sporn of love and then just us chickens traded missives about calories and other counts. Well GIVE IT UP FOR Shanna Mahin who has crossed over into the even purer agony of being a published author with her first novel, Oh You Pretty Things.  Only look at our girl all Elvis Costello meets Michelle Williams with that super sexy smart look.  I couldn’t be happier for you Shanna. Congrats. Yes, I’d love a comp. Hello??

And now, a little Q&A with the AUTHOR:

How old were you when you started writing.

I can’t remember when I started writing. I really can’t. I also can’t remember a single birthday party from my childhood (surely I had at least one?), half the men I slept with in my twenties, or the last thing I said to my father before he died. I can, however, remember when I started reading fluently–I was four–and my mother unceremoniously informed me that I could take it from here and that was the end of my bedtime stories.

Describe your first rejection.

In the fourth grade, Richard Lang passed me a note in class asking me to be his girlfriend. I demurely accepted and–poof!–we were a couple, which consisted of me wearing his royal blue cardigan for two days on the playground at lunch and one stilted conversation arranging a visit to my house that Saturday. I bought Boston Baked Beans candy (trust me, it was a thing) for us to share and waited in our living room, wearing his sweater and opening the door every 5 minutes to scan the street for his arrival.Three hours later, my mother told me that he was an asshole and we went to Bob Burns’ for drinks (Manhattan for her; Shirley Temple for me). On Monday, I searched for him on the playground before class and he finally rode in on the back of another boy’s bike, facing backward so he could only see where he’d been, not where he was going. As he passed, he flipped me off with a smirk, then his chauffeur looped in a wide circle around me so he could bellow at the top of his lungs that he wanted his sweater back. Fucker.

 What drugs are you on?

Levothyroxine, Klonopin, Cheetos, Viibryd, red wine, resentments.

Who did you blow to get published?

I used up all my extraneous blow jobs trying to make boys love me in high school. (Absentee dad issues.) Post-therapy, I only blow for love and/or enjoyment, which, for the past 15 years has been directed at my husband. My agent, editor, and publicists are all women, so we just blow each other’s minds, have naked pillow fights, and drink champagne from our shoes.

 What did you buy with your advance?

I haven’t spent it on anything except taxes, publicity, and other book-related expenses. I keep telling myself I deserve a reward, but I’m not sure I need one for finally doing what I’ve been trying to do for a decade, plus I’m afflicted with a certain miserliness for myself I do not have with others. Well, and there has been some great champagne for the milestones.(Amirite, ladies?)

 Have you slept with any famous writers? If not who would be on your list.

Assuming there aren’t any I don’t remember from my aforementioned twenties, no. Ugh, writers. If I fuck one, will it leave when we’re done, or will we have to have writing pillow talk after? Because if it’s the latter, I’m out.

What do you most want readers to say about your book?

I love this book so much I’m going to buy a dozen and give them to all my friends.

  1. I laughed; I cried; it was better than Cats.
  2. Shit, I missed my stop.
  3. I hear you. I see you.

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