• 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

NOthing Compares 2 U

Please do yourself an enormous favor and buy this book and come to a reading. If you know Rosemary Mahoney’s writing, then you will be delighted to see how her extraordinary powers of observation can actually show you how the blind see. If you are new to her work, you will be dazzled by the prose style. And then so much more.

“A spiritual odyssey into the world of the blind. . . .  A beautiful meditation on human nature.” [starred Kirkus]

CONTEST: Three copies (first, second and third prize) to the best answers to this question: when you’re writing, when you’re sitting in front of a monitor or a notebook, what do you see?



January 25th, 2014.  The Rubin Museum of Art, 7:30 pmRosemary Mahoney, Sabriye Tenberken, co-founder of Braille Without Borders, and neurologist Sabine Kastner will speak as part of the Museum’s Brainwaves Series.

January 27th, 2014, Wings WorldQuest Fundraiser, 6:00 pmRosemary Mahoney speaking with Sabriye Tenberken Top of the Garden 251 W. 30th Street


January 29th, 2014 at 5:30 pm.  BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS  Rosemary Mahoney and Sabriye Tenberken will speak at the National Braille Press event at

The IBM Client Center, One Rogers Street, Cambridge, MA 02142


February 14th, 2014  Books on the Square, Wayland Square, Providence. 7:00 pm

March 13th, 2014  Island Books, Middletown 6:30 pm.

April 3, 2014  The Redwood Library, Newport, Rhode Island at 5:30 pm

“In this intelligent, humane book, Rosemary Mahoney writes of people who are blind, many of them from impoverished cultures with little sympathy for their plight.  She reports on their courage and gives voice, time and again, to their miraculous dignity.” — Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon

“This joyful, thoughtful book took me on an emotional journey and introduced me to people I’ll never forget. With her wonderfully sharp prose and great sense of humor and humanity, Rosemary Mahoney has written a riveting narrative that combines world-class reporting, science, history, and travel writing. For the Benefit of Those Who See has changed forever the way I view my senses, and made me aware of how I do and don’t experience the world.”—Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

People Who Need People Are the Luckiest People in the World

Hey Everyone! It’s that time of year! The 2013 HATE list compiled in no particular order.  You Could Have Been Anyone To Me

1. Constant use of the phrase, “I’m obsessed with.”  I’m obsessed with Pinterest.  I’m obsessed with Snapchat. I’m obsessed with pumpkin chai latte. You can not be obsessed with a pumpkin chai latte. If you want to understand obsession, read The End of the Affair. Then talk to me a about disgusting Starbucks beverages.

2. Transparency. Suddenly everything has to be transparent. Since when isn’t clear good enough. When did clear get demoted? Did clear get the memo?

3. Pumpkin chai latte.

4. I don’t hate Taylor Swift, but I’ve had it, too.

5. Hating on Obama. I loved him, I love him, and I will always love him.

6. What the fuck is the Duck Dynasty and why is it all over the bestseller list?

7. Adam Levine named People Magazine’s sexiest man of the year. Okay, he is the first Jew to be named which I suppose is something. Seriously, there are men in publishing who are sexier than Adam Levine.

8. People asking me if I read “The Goldfinch.”

9. People sending me an email that says, “Call me.” Okay, you’re emailing me to to call you. Why don’t you just fucking call me. Just pick up the fucking phone. In the words of Ernestine, “One ringy dingy.” Are we CLEAR?

10. The continued shortening of every work in the dic.

And just for the record, I love all of you who come here and leave your snail slime in the form comments that are harrowing and hilarious and truly supportive of all the people who check in at the Lerner Rehab Facility for Writers and Artists and stay for a day or a lifetime.

Now, please, let’s see if we can get to 100 items on the hate list. What do you find irritating, obnoxious (besides me), heinous, and hideous?

One Tin Soldier Rides Away

August 10 1931 – December 17, 2013

Can’t sleep. It’s been like this for days. How are you guys doing? Does this season produce a special entropy? All the enforced good cheer. People whistling Christmas songs in the subway. Stuffing money into envelopes. While your writing is under ice, or perhaps stuck in the middle of the pond where mallards come to die. I can’t sleep. I want to hold a man I no longer remember except as a husk. I want to adopt a boy named Dante who plays the piano. I want to see Berlin though I don’t know why. Does all the writing add up to a great river, can it carry us to a cornfield in Connecticut where stalks look like a man’s beard against the snow? This is the glass pipe. The serrated knife. You are and are not Walter White. I always wanted to write column called a day late and a dollar short, reviewing books and movies long after they released, long after anyone cared.

Who are you?

Someday We’ll Be Together

Generally I hate hearing that this blog helped people or, god forbid, that something I said inspired someone. Community shommunity. I’ve done everything I can to make you feel as shitty and insecure about yourself as I feel about myself. I’ve begged you to embrace writer’s block and stop seeing your therapists. But every now and then one of you breaks free and makes a god damn go of it. And so please my friends, give it up for Averil Dean. And by that I mean buy her book. Thank you, Averil. I can’t wait to read your book. I love the title and the jacket. Really cool. Congratulations from everyone here on the ward. As for the rest of y’all, I hope everyone completely alienates their families tomorrow by talking about their writing non-stop. Like the entire plot to your novel. Love, Betsy

Humping on the Parking meter, Leaning on the Parking Meter

The bottom line is no one cares if you don’t write. No one asked you to. No one will die. There are chipmunks who work harder than you. You didn’t need to buy that Moleskin. You forgot you had one anyway. No one said: a poem please. No cried out when you sat down, mid-poem, because you couldn’t bleat another line, a lifetime ago on Minetta Lane. Do not ask what your writing can do for you. Do not got to therapy and crawl inside your inner ear. Did you ever think it was a gift from god? To stop? You won’t have to eat. You need not sing. You don’t have to be anything. When you remember those pages rocking out to sea, remember how good it felt to not reach for a simile. My face and your ass. Is like.

Do you ever think of quitting? Please be as negative as possible.

Love the One You’re With

When I was in college, I had a friend whose father was a dry cleaner. He referred to his work as  “pressing the piss out of other men’s pants.”


If I See You At All

CONGRATULATIONS To my most G client, William Todd Schultz on the publication of his new biography of Elliott Smith, TORMENT SAINT.

Here’s a spotify list: http://open.spotify.com/user/meg.ernst/playlist/6fpTyvd96SC2ZZ4pXUtYnk

Please tell every Elliott Smith fan you know. Or people interested in the Portland indie music scene. Or understanding the tragic lives of young, gifted artists who didn’t make it. Todd has also written books about two of my favorite artists, Diane Arbus and Truman Capote. Brilliant psychological portraits that don’t attempt to explain a person’s life or choices, but brings you in as close as possible to understanding the forces and obsessions that compelled each artist to do their work, and how their work failed to save them.

October 3, 2013,

Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times

Ten years ago this November singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, then 34, died in an Echo Park bungalow from two knife stabs to the chest. According to William Todd Schultz’s “Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith,” a clear-eyed and devastating new biography of the gifted and troubled artist, his death, likely a suicide, was inevitable. The only questions were how and when. read more…


What’s the saddest song you know?


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