• 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

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If You Don’t Know Me By Now

 

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So nice to hear from so many of you. Sorry to read about losses, too.

I always hated people who said, Thank got it’s Friday. Or hump day. Or Monday is the new Thursday. Or who talked around the “water cooler,” or talked about the weather as if observing rain were original or interesting. Unless it was like two nights ago. Do you feel me? When I was in Miami for the book fair, a young woman got up at the Q&A and read a poem. I would have never done that in my entire life, which has made me re-evaluate my entire life.

Ballsy or obnoxious?

I Couldn’t Believe After All These Years You Didn’t Know Me Any Better Than That

 

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Please forgive me. I’ve been staring too hard at a person I’ve hated my whole life. I’ve been enjoying the sickness that comes with thinking your work might be good. I’ve asked the gods to watch me fold your shirts, smooth the collars, collect the lint into my fat fist. I’ve had blackened fish and gin and tonics with the juice of eleven limes. Please forgive me I forgot all about you, forgot about myself, put on a Broadway show and handed out the programs. Yes, I see floaters. Yes, I can’t sleep. Yes, I always hold the door open even when no one is there.

If you’re still there, please catch me up.

You are My Love and My Life

 

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I applied to four MFA programs. I was rejected by three. I wasn’t hopeful waiting for that fourth letter. In fact, I was morose. I remember going to the Second Avenue Deli by myself. The waiter looked at me and said, “It can’t be that bad.” On the walk home, I told myself that if I didn’t get in and stopped writing that it was on me. I couldn’t let a college tell me if I was a writer. I got in. I had a nervous breakdown. I finished. And never wrote another word of poetry. Good story?

What’s the point of this story?

Sealed With a Kiss

 

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It had to happen. Five a.m. roll call. Do you know where your keyboard is? People always ask me how I get it done, full time job and writing. I hear in their voice some astonishment and revulsion. I don’t blame them. I also hate people who are productive and smug. I once had breakfast with the then CEO of Random House and he told me he got up at four, read the WSJ, NYT, and Financial Times WHILE ON THE TREADMILL. His cuff links were gold skulls. How I do it is I get up at five. And I don’t look at email until 10:00. When I finally look at my email, I refer to is as breaking the seal when the voices and needs of my clients come rushing in and I put on my apron and fill the pockets with seed.

Faces Come Out of the Rain

 

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Where have I been? Where have you been? Who was that woman across the aisle certain she was on the wrong train? Did I help her? Did I help you? Yesterday the coffee cost less than today. I hate people who say live in the present. One day at a time. Forgive yourself.  I don’t ever want to talk about the weather. I don’t need to live life to its fullest. Half full is plenty for me. Is the next stop New Rochelle?

Where have you been?

My Everything

 

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I did a talk at a Bridge Club today. During the break,  a woman approached me when I went to get a cup of soda. She said, and I quote, “I could have written your book.” Of course, she meant that she related to it, but she kept saying that phrase, “I could have written your book.”

What should I have said?

Put It in the Ground Where the Flowers Grow

 

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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?