THE FOREST FOR THE TREES is about writing, publishing and what makes writers tick. This blog is dedicated to the self loathing that afflicts most writers. A community of like-minded malcontents gather here. 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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You Just Might Find You Get What You Need

I recently cleaned out my desk at work and came upon a file I started when I became an agent 16 or so years ago titled “Asshole File.” Yes, the subtlety is overwhelming. I had never been on the rejection end of things and found it a bit hard to take. Don’t love it, not right for our list, not our cup of tea, not our cut of brisket. Thanks for sending your big fat stupid novel which we would never publish even if it were the last manuscript on earth. And your kid is ugly. I put the letters in the asshole file. Thus filed, they couldn’t hurt me. I’m rubber, you’re glue. Eventually, I found I could take it. Selling lots of books didn’t hurt. But in some ways those rejections made me more resolute in my beliefs. I’m not saying what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’ve always believed that what doesn’t kill you usually hobbles you.

How do you handle rejection?

Hello, It’s Me, I’ve Thought About Us for a Long, Long While

Dearly Beloved, I kept meaning to write but I’m on a wild jag. Getting up at 5:00, sometimes 4:30 and writing as if my ass were on fire. It started with our 30/30 and by the end of the experiment I had the base of something and from there it’s been a pinball game in my mind. Scattershot, lit. This forced locked down has also helped. The four hours I spent commuting is now time with my keyboard. I’m not saying I’m in favor of variants but time is time. I always did my writing on the margins of my day job, on the train, in a car, in the light, in the dark. It’s as if all the journals I scribbled in for all the years have appeared as sheet music. All I want to do is shed my office of pictures and trinkets. The holy trinity: coffee, keyboard, computer.

What have you been up to? Everyone okay?

You Are the Light of the World

How is everyone doing? Did you fall a cliff? Ride into the sunset? Are you playing musical chairs or clanging your cup on your prison bars? My writing schedule has gotten a little lumpy. More here, less there. I’m going to try to go back to the thirty minutes because I achieved consistency and consistency is a golden medal with a striped ribbon of blue and green. It’s enough to know you’re alive. We have until the end of the year to write a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter.

What’s it going to be?

Put Your Hands Up Playing My Song Butterflies Fly Away

Dearest Community of Writers, Thieves, Scoundrels and Cons: YOU MADE IT! WE MADE IT! Thirty minutes of pecking for thirty days. Tap, tap, tap. Scratch, scratch, scratch. We slung some sentences together and turned ourselves around. The feedback has been great: some started something new, some breathed life into something old, some found the daily task helped them find a groove. Some missed a day or two but got back in the saddle. I’m going to propose a weekly check in until the end of the year. My goal is to reach 100 pages and work on story. One question hangs in the air: why do we make ourselves write.

Leave it here: what is your goal for the end of the year? Commit! Commit!

And the Painted Ponies Go Up and Down

Today I wrote for two hours while my car was getting serviced, jacked up on decaf, avoiding a woman who wanted to engage. The more I wrote the more I became convinced that my project wasn’t sustainable. I’ve been at this rodeo before and I know that how I feel about my work is a reflection of how I feel about myself and not the work itself. Though of course the work may suck. Today is Day 29 and you know who you are and what it takes. Tomorrow let’s take the day off and we’ll have our final day, Day 30 on Friday. For now I just want to say that I’m so grateful to all of you. Thank you for being here.

Happy thanksgiving! Loyalty to the family is tyranny to the self!!

I’m on the Edge of Glory

Day 28. I had a goodish writing day. The big win was doing it 5pm. Taking back the night. Taking back my life. I’ve always done all my writing at 5:30 in the morning until about 10:00 am. Lifting the restriction about doing it first thing or not at all has been liberating. This has been the big revelation for me these last 28 days. And also that a half hour is enough time to get something done.

What rules do you have about when, where and how much time you need to write?

The Story Never Ends

Day 27 Boom Boom Tick. Played footsie today which is to say I went over early pages and didn’t write anything new, which is to say it i feel like a loser and doubt is having its way with me. I know I’m supposed to offer a modicum of coaching and encouragement. Well, no way. If there is any reason to read this blog it’s to be reminded that writing sucks face, that you’re never as good or bad as you think you are, that putting words together is sacred, holy, and completely fucked.

How was your day my beloved 30/30’s?

You’re a Cowboy Like Me Perched in the Dark

Day 26. Pound it out, guys. This is the big finish. We are facing the Macy’s Day Parade, your ego floating high over Fifth Avenue, crowds cheering, lips synching. We are almost there. I am so insanely proud of myself. I jump started an old jalopy and got her driving again. Will I finish, will it work, can I drive stick? We will see. Thank you for coming on this adventure. Let’s make the last days count.

What’s your writing plan for the next three days. Commit!

Would You Stay if She Promised You Heaven

DAY 25 Sorry I didn’t get this out last night. But I did get my thirty in earlier in the day. I was mostly layering in cement to hold the bricks together. I hate it when writers say they find out more about their characters as if the characters are real and reveal their secrets. The writer is the puppeteer. Maybe you find out more about yourself as in you didn’t realize you had those strings to pull. Anyway, it turns out my main character is a bit of an asshole. Love it.

Describe your main character in three words.

p.s. Five more days till the mountaintop.

How ’bout Them Transparent Dangling Carrots?

DAY 24 DAY 24 DAY 24 DAY 24 DAY 24 DAY 24 Motherfuckers!!!! I know what you’re thinking, what happens after the thirty days? I’m going to lash myself to the my desk chair and immerse my feet in a tub of oil. I’m going to start wearing make-up and high heels. I am going to get a bone density test and new bras. At the end of these thirty days, I am going to double down because for the last four years I have co-written other people’s books but this feels like something tiny and enormous and I don’t feel like stopping.

You tell me. What’s going to happen?