• 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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Everyone Knew Her as Nancy

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There was an article in the paper today about the 50th anniversary of The Outsiders. I had no idea that S.E. Hinton was sixteen when she wrote it after failing a creative writing class. I would like to point out for the record that I flunked out of my first year of film school at NYU. And then at Columbia, doing a poetry MFA, I had to take a six month “leave of absence.” Flunking never feels good, but it’s often a catalyst for, oh fuck it, flunking sucks.

What’s your best failure?

When I Found Out Yesterday

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Do you read book reviews? The NYTBR, People, The Nation, The TLS, The New York Review, USA Today, The Atlantic, the New Yorker? Do you read your hometown paper, The New Haven Register, the Hartford Courant, the SF Chronicle, the WASHINGTON POST, etc. The blogs? THe Awl, The Millions, Slate, Paris Review, etc. WHERE Do you find out about books and WHO do you believe?

 

You’re Still Young That’s Your Fault

 

42ec3978f106fa7f20b0d164fe05d485Regret. It’s such a beautiful feeling. For small things, large things. Conversations you wish went another way. That jacket at Barneys. A young man who could have learned to love. Working all the fucking time. That haircut. Not helping other people enough. Not writing enough down.  Giving up on friendships, projects, the body electric. Did she say crumb cake? Not raising your hand once in college. The close call with Irwin Winkler. Oh, poor little lamb. I love licking my wounds.People who say regret is a wasted emotion are missing out.

Any regrets out there?

 

I Want You to Show Me the Way

 

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I don’t dream. I have the same recurring nightmare 3-4 times a year. Someone is either chasing me or trying to break into the house. In the dream, I can’t call out for help, but I keep trying. It’s at that point when my husband wakes me up and tells me that I’ve been screaming. I feel this explains a lot about my world view.

Do you have a recurring dream?

A Dragon Lives Forever But Not So Little Boys

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I met with a young writer last week one semester away from graduating college. The big question: try to get a job in publishing or take some temp jobs and try to keep writing. Obviously, I took the day job and it hasn’t been terrible. But I’ll always wonder. The worst part of working in publishing is not having the time to read War and Peace. The best part is working beside writers and making books.

What is your road not taken?

Faces Come Out of the Rain

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Next door to my office is a hair dresser called Rapunzel. They change the message on a sign outside their door every day. Today, it read: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR HAIR. I had to face the truth: I had given up on my hair. I went inside. Long story short, I was weeping in the elevator on the way up. Nothing every fuckin’ changes with me. Two steps forward, throw myself down the stairs. Yes, friends, a blow dry took me down today.

What have you given up on?

 

Don’t Tell Me Not to Live

 

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I turned in a writing project today. Finished the fucker. I’m feeling elated, depressed, anxious, irritable, happy, depleted, disoriented, and exhausted. My entire digestive system is aggrieved. And I have a feeling it won’t let up until I hear from the editor. Make way for ducklings!

How do you handle waiting?