I wrote a book called THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. It's an advice book for writers, though I'm more interested in what makes writers tick. Are you a self-promoter or self-saboteur? Do you abandon projects or can't let go? Are you afraid to tell or can't stop yourself? The book is also about getting published, which is not dissimilar to having all your molars extracted, but otherwise terrific.

    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 gimlet-eyed 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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You Talk Too Much You Never Shut Up


Film and TelevisionWhat do agents actually do? I hear this asked a lot. One client once ventured a guess: you talk on the phone all day. Yes, it’s just like being in Junior High. When I was an editor, the editor in chief once stopped my office with the phone bill in his hand. He was waving it around and said that I spend more time on the phone than all the other editors. I shot back without hesitation explaining that I’m a top gun and everyone should be logging as many hours as me. He accepted it and departed. That was a close call. Of course, now phone time is largely spent doing email. In fact, I’ve grown phone-phobic. Though there are times when you have to pick up the phone, which can be to intimidate, console, take a temperature or gossip.

This is Part One of a Five Part Series on what agents do. Or until I run out of steam. Tomorrow: finding clients

What do you like about the phone?

There is Trouble Within


artichoke_1339768899Really really really why do you write? Is it fun? Is it how you know who you are? Is it how you understand your world, people, their ways? Is it a habit? Is it an outlet? Is it therapy? Are you an artist, a typer, a wordsmith? Why don’t you paint or sculpt or dance or code. Who do you write for, your self? Your parents? Your peers? FUture generations? Are you on the outside, the inside? Do you have a need? Are you lost? Are you found?











































Don’t Give Up Until You Drink From a Silver Cup

bosc-pearDo you like being alone? Being alone with your work? Alone in your head. Do you like going to movies alone? Diners? Walking alone? Traveling by yourself. Are you alone when you’re at a party? Making small talk? Do you write when you can’t write. In your head, on the ceiling, the roof of your mouth?

Do you crave solitude?


Come and Join the Living


Real breakthroughs. Bread slicing machine dividing a loaf of rye  in perfectly sized slices, a wall of dominoes falling like soldiers, sinking a golf ball in a cup, watching it circle the cup, thwap, thwap, plunk. It’s when you write ten pages, your back howling, your carpals tunneling, time dissolving like the closing shot of a corny movie. You are genius. Every moment is yours, every word that climbs onto your page, that lingers, stays. This is your time. Look both ways before your cross the street.

The Room Was Humming Harder



Today I want to talk about fake breakthroughs. A fake breakthrough comes when you are writing and you are seized with the sudden belief that putting your novel in the present tense will fix EVERYTHING. Or when you turn your main character into an animal spirit. It’s when you start ripping everything apart because you’re sure you know how to fix it.  It’s when you think you deserve a cigarette. When you pat yourself on the back. Or tell someone you think you had a breakthrough.

Tell us about a breakthrough, real or imagined.

Everybody Plays the Fool Somtimes



I had a reading over the weekend at a local Barnes & Noble. It was a Saturday morning and I figured I’d be lucky if two or three people showed. There were seven or eight, plus me, my mom, and one other Bridge lady. We just sat around and talked about mothers and daughters, and assisted living options in the area.

Do you go to readings? What are you looking for?

You Know It’s Just YOur Stupid Pride


53b16085bf8fe_elena_ferranteHow is everyone? I missed you.  I‘ve been on vacation. I read a history of the founding fathers and My Brilliant Friend, which a million people told me I HAD to read. Whenever lots of people tell me I have to read something or see a movie, I develop an immediate aversion to it. THis has been going on for some time. In the fifth grade, everyone said I would love the history teacher because he was so “cool.”  I hated him. I know it’s perverse, as if I’m so unknowable and unpredictable. I loved the novel.

What do you recommend?