• 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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You Don’t What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone

 

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I’ve spent the last year having mother daughter conversations at libraries, bookstores, Jewish Centers and bridge clubs. Last week, I was on a panel with three other writers talking about mommy memoirs. I could have hit myself in the face with a hanger. This post is dedicated to my dad. I credit him with everything I know about business and my love of movies, Broadway, stars and salty food. He would have preferred me to get an MBA instead of an MBA, but when I started acquiring books he was always thrilled to see my name in the acknowledgments of books I had worked on. He would literally show the acknowledgments to anyone who visited our house.

Was your dad proud of your writing, you?

The Best Things in Life are Free

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When I was a young idealistic poet type, I heard this quote by SamuelJohnson, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” I was deeply offended by the sentiment. I mean shouldn’t one write for passion? Ironic isn’t it that I became a literary agent, that my work is all about getting writers money? Literally. Benjamins. It’s my job to get out there on the choppy waters and bring something home. Sometimes when you do a huge deal for a writer, he’ll say:  I would have written it for free. Blockhead. Okay, I still believe you should write out of passion and I’m not even going to say the money will follow. That’s another not truism.

Do you write for money?

With Two Cats In the Yard

 

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Do like to go away to write, find a cabin or studio apartment or barge or yert. Do you need total silence to concentrate, hunker down. Do you need to put distance between you and your loved ones, your work, your chores, your buttons. Have you been to Yaddo or MacDowell or other writer retreats? I’ve heard they provide box lunches. I’m sure I wouldn’t like the lunch. I’m sure I would want to break the no talking ban. I’m sure I would start smoking, possibly burn down my cabin. Fortunately, I like writing at home in my own little corner in my own little chair.

Where do you write?

 

Everybody is a Star Who the Rain Chase the Dust Away

NBC's So I’m pitching a reality show to the networks called VOICE. Four judges will turn their backs to the writers who are trying out. I’m thinking Jonathan Franzen, Junot Diaz, Joan Didion and Jhumpa Lahiri. The writers will come out and read a paragraph of their book. If the judges like what they hear, they will turn their chairs. Then the writers will pick which celebrity judge will be their coach. They will have battles and steals and Joan and Junot will fall in love.

How would like your work to be judged?

You’re the First the Last My Everything

 

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I have been absentee because I could not figure out how to convert my comcast to Xfinity. And my teenager is away at college. I’m not going to write about how technology is destroying us and writing and poetry and daydreaming and masturbating and basketmaking and flag folding and watching ants carry crumbs across a mountain that once was a mole. Have you ever changed the part in your hair? Do you think you really know a person? Yes, I love my fucking phone. I love it. Get over it. Do I take it out while people are talking. In the middle of dinner? During an MRI? Do I sleep with it? Play Bridge on line all night like some nocturnal animal with slow eyes.

What’s your relationship to your technology??

I’m So Tired of Being Alone

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I went to hear a movie producer give a talk and he made the point that you have to have a lot of ideas. You can’t be clinging to your one script for life. Imagine, he said, if you found yourself next to Steven Spielberg at a cocktail party and he asked what you were working on. You pitched your script. He didn’t like it and said, “what else you got?” And you got nothing. I know books aren’t movie pitches, but I still think it’s really healthy to always be evolving ideas, taking notes, clipping articles, recording dialogue. Keep a list of ideas. They won’t bite.

How many ideas are you working on?

It’s So Typical of Me to Talk about Myself

Dear Friends of this blog. Under the category of better late than how did I possibly fail to mention the publication of a novel by our very beloved and brilliant Donna Everhart?Please join me in congratulating her on the publication of The Education of Dixie Dupree. Better yet, support the author and buy a copy.

Let’s try something new in the comments. Let’s see if we can do a live(ish) Q&A. Leave a question for Donna and hopefully she’ll answer.