• 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?

Tell Me Something Good

When do you take revision too far? When does your work start unraveling? When does writing become finger painting? Some people feel that revision is where the “real” work of writing gets done. Maybe. But there’s nothing like cracking a new piece of work out of your ass. Here’s my advice: Get lots of rest. Drink lots of water. Clear your desk. Trust your editor or readers. Keep a separate document for sentences you delete. I call mine: fragments. Do you have to kill your darlings? Execution-style.

Revision advice? Anyone?

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?


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