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

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The Sun Is the Same in a Relative Way But You’re Older



So a writer approaches me with his manuscript. I see that he has fantastic credentials, has published widely and in all the right places. The concept seems muddy to me and I tell him so, describe how I would refocus the project. I think about taking it on, but step aside. Honestly, it feels like a lot of work with no certain outcome. Still, I provide a few comparison titles to give the writer my take on the project and urge him to find a new title. He’s very appreciative and asks for a few agent names. I don’t usually supply names (do your homework!), but I do here. The writer has been especially polite so what the fuck. He writes me today to let me know that one of the agents I recommended took it on, sold it for a bucket of money, and the book is debuting on the NYT bestseller list at #5. He’s writing to thank me.*

Thank me? How about fuck me? I guess I have to file this under win some lose some. Or I could beat myself forever and ever, which, if history is our guide, is my method of choice.

How do you punish yourself?

*this little anecdote is a composite of two stories.



I Ain’t No Monkey But I Know I Like


I did an event today with my mother. After the luncheon, I read a small passage from the book and then we took the stage. She in her Eileen Fisher, me in my Uniqlo. She accessorized up the wazoo. Me wearing my watch. Her nails flawless, mine chewed. Her hair styled, mine frizzy and unruly. A conversation ensued and, without warning, my darling 85 year old mother morphed into Rodney Dangerfield. She starts whipping off one-liners and zingers. And she’s getting all the laughs.In the car on the way home, she says, “Bets, I think I got the bigger laughs.”

Tell me about your mom.

Lenny Bruce Is Not Afraid


It’s really hard to think about writing, publishing, virtually anything while our world hangs in the balance. I’ve never been political in any of my blog posts and I doubt I have anything new to add to the conversation, but it really is hard to feel that anything matters. How do you write a book about butterflies, or calories, or Mark Twain’s beloved butler? How do you quiet all the voices, put your blinders on, and not think about Donald popping Tic Tacs and groping women. Let alone blowing up the world.

How do you do your work?

You Can’t Always Get What You Want



A lot of people are talking about Bob Dylan getting the Nobel Prize.

What say you?

A Saxophone Someplace Far Off Played



Every year I sit with my mother for Yom Kippur services. I space out for most of it, hum along with prayers I learned years ago, stare at the stain glass panels searching for imperfections, read the prayer book randomly like people who spin a globe and go to wherever their finger lands. The music is familiar, heavy. Waves of sadness move through me. My father. My sister. The young son of an old friend. I say I hate coming, but I’ll miss it when she’s gone. I’ll miss everything.

May you be written in the book of life.
























































































These Streets Will Make You Feel Brand New


nyc11380-sq-300x300I have a client who has either no or negative self-esteem. That said, he is a writer. And I’ve always believed that writers are egomaniacs, often closeted, but egomaniacs all the same. How the hell else do you bank your life on sentences knowing that there is a mighty chance that no one will read them, and make them anyway. Is that ego, insanity, possession, obsession, neurosis, inspiration, habit, faith? I think the reason people write is because they need to. This post is all over the fuckin’ place.

Are writers egomaniacs?

Every Little Breeze Seems to Whisper Louise


Guys, guys!!! Look who has a book coming out. One of our very own peeps, Rea Tarvydas. CONGRATULATIONS. Such a cool title: How to Pick up a Maid in Statue Square. Buy a copy HERE. Here’s a little interview I did with Rea. Please spread the work, share with your FB friends, tweet and all that meat.

  1. What did it feel like to hold a finished book in your hands?

It was surreal. I mean, I knew it was my book because it had my name on it but it was a different emotional experience than I expected. Vulnerable. A shiny, black book exposing what troubles me: the dark, the lonely, the isolated.

  1. How did you come up with the title?

Actually, my press came up with the title. It’s the title of one of the stories in the book, in which Fast Eddy instructs on how best to pick up Filipina maids on their rest day. I’m SO BAD at titles. I mean, it took me two years to come up with a working title (The Globe) and it’s adequate because it’s the name of the bar that my characters frequent.I like the title. I think long titles are trending.


  1. If one famous person could read your book, who and why?

John Cusack. I pictured John Cusack playing the character of Fast Eddy from the collection. I sent a copy of the book to his production company. Why not?

  1. Which is your least favourite part of the process?

House style.

(what the fuck does this mean? Is it like Gangnam style?

  1. Why do you write?  Two reasons. I write because I’m trying to figure something out and I’ve discovered I don’t know anything. I mean, I attempt to understand but I have no fucking idea what’s going on.

I write because I want to be called by name. I think this is tied to my upbringing as the “Sergeant’s Daughter”. My Dad was in the RCMP and we moved every three years throughout my childhood. When you move that frequently you’re referred to as the “New Girl” and then the “Sergeant’s Daughter”. Followed by “Narc” and “Sarge”. I ended up in the nursing profession and was referred to as “Nurse”. If I didn’t show up for work, another nameless person took my place.