• THE FOREST FOR THE TREES

    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

Put It in the Ground Where the Flowers Grow

 

20130726-twinkies-whole-cross-section-primary

There was a review of Philip Roth’s new collection of essays in the NYTBR over the weekend. It quoted Roth as saying something to effect that he was lucky because he didn’t care about happiness. First reaction: brilliant. Second reaction: DB. But I keep thinking about it. Does an artist care about happiness? Or more to the point, does caring about happiness diminish or embellish your ability to work? What is happiness, beyond Twinkies and sordid sexual encounters? Is caring about happiness related to caring about what other people think? Is happiness even a thing?

Do you care about happiness?

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

 

claire-danes-emmy-awards-in-los-angeles-09-18-2016-2I can’t post tonight because I am watching the Emmy’s. I am an award show junkie. I don’t care how long, stupid, or ridiculous they are: I love the stars, the speeches, the faces of the losers. I have been writing some version of my acceptance speech since 1972.

Who do you thank?

I’m the One That You Want

men-checking-out-women-attraction-mad-men

GUYS!!! I’ve been blogging for like seven or eight years and WordPress made us an Editor’s Pick today. I have no idea what this means except that they probably ran out of people to pick, but I’ll take it. I also want to share that I like to eat pizza while walking outside, I like to watch men check out women on the street, I am never happier than when a pair of shoes actually fits me. I am not going anywhere. I drink fate-free, caffeine-free diet coke and not because anyone forces me. I for real love to play bridge. And this tiny little mole of a nod to the blog made my day.

What makes your day?

Any Day Now, Any Day How

img_00071

I’ve never talked about this, but I always think about it. How can we worry about our own stories or poems when hurricanes are destroying homes, when missiles are being launched, when the arctic is melting, when children are starving and dying when cancers are ravaging bodies, dementia destroying minds. How do you feel your work matters in the face of so much pain and suffering in the world.

How do you find meaning?

I’ve Looked Around Enough to Know

 

dessert-tableThe only way I get any fucking writing done is if I get up at five. I’ve always envied “full-time” writers, though most writers have to supplement their writing with work. It’s like the 1%. I also know that I’d probably wind up face down in a swimming pool if I tried. I’m incredibly disciplined, but my stability has always depended on having the responsibility of work. I don’t think that’s going to change in my lifetime. Nose still pressed to the bakery glass.

When do you get any fucking writing done?

We Could Have Had It All

 

green-park-bench

I got a Gmail the other day from a writer in Israel. He said he “found” a copy of the Forest for the Trees on a bench in Tel Aviv. He liked the book, it helped him, blah, blah. What I want to know is: who leaves my fucking book on a bench? Or did he get to the chapter on “what makes editors” tick and, thoroughly disgusted, intentionally leave the book on the bench. He couldn’t even be bothered to throw it out. Or maybe it was more benign, just forgot it, which is even worse in my book. It’s also true that another part of me thought: go little book, you made it all the way across the world.

Did you ever find a book? Or leave one behind?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture Yourself On a Boat On a River

 

a00e54fe4158b883301157158c128970c-800wiWhen I was a senior in high school, I won a poetry prize of $100. I went to the local bookstore and bought as many poetry books as I could, most just because of how they looked. One of those was Houseboat Days by John Asbbery. I had never heard of him, but I like the woman with the impassive face, elegant dress and oar in her hands. And then I fell in love with the poems. When I was a freshman at NYU, I saw that Ashbery was reading at Books & Co. I had never been above 14th Street on my own, but I braved the subway to the upper east side. The store was packed. Everyone looked impossibly sophisticated. I managed to get inside, but I couldn’t see or hear a thing. It was the best time I ever had.