I wrote a book called THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. It's an advice book for writers, though it's more about what makes writers tick. 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. I post less frequently now, but hopefully with as much vitriol. Please join in!

    Gluttons for punishment can scroll through the archives. If I’ve learned one thing about writers, it’s this: we really are all alone. Thanks for reading. Love, Betsy

  • Follow me

  • Archives

Feeling Good Was Good Enough For Me


Who’s still in therapy? Not me, but I need it more than ever. Here’s why I won’t go back: I’m tired of the moi. I see all the therapists of Christmas past dancing in front of my eyes, mocking me.  I see the couches and vacations in Turks and Cakes that I paid for. I think about all the pain that pools into an hour, the Persian  carpets whose threads I counted. I might as well start smoking and drinking again. Coke Zero. You have to stand up sometimes. Sometimes strength means asking for help.

People Fall In Love In Mysterious Ways


I cleaned my desk today and organized a desk drawer. That should give you some indication of the suck ass day I had trying to patch a few sentences together. Why am I alive? Why do I want to do this more than anything else? Why can’t I ever be happy? I wish I went by Elizabeth. Betsy Barrett Browning. Betsy Harwick. Betsy Bishop. Betsy Gaskell. I wish I went to Nova Scotia after grad school and married a potter. I actually separated large from small paper clips. I threw away pens that dried up and pencils that went stale.

How be you?

You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go


Big front page article about how much reading means to President Obama. As if it didn’t already hurt enough that this beautiful man was leaving office. This man who loves Shakespeare, and Emerson and Toni Morrison. He invited five writers to the White House: Colson Whitehead, Barbara Kingsolver, Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith and Junot Diaz. I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the list and not just because it didn’t include me. I feel like the list could have been a little more provocative, different genres, or just weird.

What five writers would you invite to the White House?

I Don’t Want to Be Your Friend, I Just Want to Be Your Lover


it’s very hard for me to fall in love with books anymore. sadly, i just read them from a writer’s perspective–check for structure, tone, voice. i hate it but i do it. –rea

Thank you, Rea, for this topic. Reading for “pleasure” is almost impossible for most writers. You are either learning, studying, dissecting, or competing. You are either impressed, depressed, inspired or humbled. Who is the person staring out from the back flap, who did she fuck to get those quotes? What I want is a book that has its own language, that makes me sit up straight, that insists I pay attention. I want similes that are sublime. I want STRUCTURE, not and then and then and then. I want to be either hyper aware of the narrator or completely unaware. I honestly think that writers should only read classics. It’s like playing tennis with the pro.

How do you read?


YOu’re the First, the Last, My Everything



The whole thing about being an agent is discovering a writer or project that excites you so much all you want to do is tell people about it. It’s like New Year’s eve in When Harry Met Sally when Billy Crystal realizes he loves Meg Ryan that he runs through the streets of New York to find Meg Ryan at a party to say “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”If my heart doesn’t quicken, if I can’t envision how I would pitch, I generally step aside. It may not be the most scientific method, but it’s reliable. I sometimes feel like the fully dressed guy on the beach with the metal detector.

What was the last book you were massively excited about?


ENdless Rain Into a Papercup

I’m jacked up on Benadryl tonight. What about you?sad_pinkie_pie__c_by_mlpwallpapermaker-d4qdzxj

Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain


Spent the day writing, she said feeling saintly, superior, and suddenly sad. It’s truly a drug this writing business. Editing is a contact high. It’s when the words and sentences are your own, when you find a simile that makes sense on three dimensions. I know this blog is generally a clusterfuck of complaining because for every victory there are 10,000 failures. If I think I wrote well today, I’ll see the delusion tomorrow, and yet and yet. We need the eggs. This year I want to wear glitter and sit up straight. I want to wear it or throw it out.

Can you describe your best writing day?