• 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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I Want Your Ugly, I Want Your Disease

 

186005-2tAmazon rankings. Number of comments. Sales figures. Facebook friends. Twitter followers. Salary. Penis size. Portfolio. The Scale. Bank account. Square feet. Bestseller lists. No one ever asks how many doors you help open for other people, how many times you gave up a seat on the subway or helped a woman with a baby carriage up the stairs. At some point you have stop checking the rankings or you’ll go insane. Some of my clients start every phone call with a report on their rankings. It’s impossible not to check the Bestseller list if you have a client with a book on it. And as it goes up and down so goes the mood of the nation. People like to say that numbers don’t matter. Of course they matter.

What else matters?

The First Ones Now Will Later Be Last

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I’m not exactly a football person, but I got a little caught up tonight. Even though I’m from New England, I wanted the Atlanta team because they were the underdogs. But the moment they started shellacking the Patriots and they became the underdogs, I wanted The Patriots to win. I will always root for the underdog.

A few years ago, I was having with lunch with a publisher when he made the observation that he liked winners and I liked losers. I think it’s more that I don’t trust winners. What is a winner anyway? It is true that I’ve taken in my share of broken birds, but I never saw them as losers. They were always beautiful to me.

Who do you root for?

I Thought That I Heard You Laughing

 

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I started a new project yesterday.I’ve been thinking about it for six or seven years on and off. I’ve had the title and not much more than that. By start,  I mean I wrote two pages and made a new file on my desktop so it will stare me in the face whenever I open my laptop.  I won’t say much more because I am extremely superstitious. In fact, I’ve said too much.

How often do you start a new writing project?

I Ain’t No Monkey But I Know What I Like

 

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What makes you buy a book? The title, the jacket art, the author, the blurbs, the author photo, the first sentence, first paragraph, last line? Do you read a review, see something on Facebook, see the author on Trevor Noah, or hear about it from a friend, your book club, Goodreads, word of mouth.

What gets you?

 

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

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I’ve been in NYC the last few days doing the agenting thing, by which I mean glamorous parties, auctions, meetings with Polish agents who still smoke and have alluring eyebrows. Or, to be more accurate,  sitting at my desk eating a do I dare peach Chobani yogurt, being put on hold for an hour and forty minutes with Verizon, paying the bills, and packing up my manuscript bag with over 500 pages of paper that all say the same thing: read me first. Not complaining, just saying.

What’s your work day? Like the not writing part?

 

Thank You Disillusionment

 

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I received an email tonight from a woman who is hosting her book club and they are reading…The Bridge Ladies. To get in the spirit, she is taking out the china and silver. You guys know that very little makes me happy, and the happier something makes me the sadder I feel, but all that aside, I’m truly tickled to have heard from this woman in Atlanta. Atlanta! I’ve heard from other folks hosting books clubs. I’ve even been invited to a few (one was all Canadians)! And I’ve been invited to Bridge Clubs where I do a little reading and then we break out the cards. I try to act like whatever, but I admit it: I’m happy to hear from people who like the fucker.

What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever heard in relation to your writing?

There Are Places I Remember

 

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I met with six writers and talked about who they are, why they write, and what their work feels like. We looked at twenty pages and found some themes, some clunkers, some wonderful adjectives and transitions, some bloat, some moments of truth, some wit, and some duck duck goose. I wondered what they did after our meetings. Starbucks? Laptop? The Affair? I wondered what it meant. I thought about my hideous graduate school days, depression in full force. Dancing on the line. Did anyone ask me? Did I tell anyone? I loved these students for their life. Their sweet life. One young man wore three necklaces strung on lengths of leather. Totems from another life, a feather from India made of bone. I fell back in love with the writing life.