• 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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Find Out What You Mean To Me

 

Finished a draft of the fucker before labor day. Now, she and I are giving each other the cold shoulder. I’m a firm believer of leaving your shit alone for at least a few weeks, become detached, even cold, before looking at it again. My husband asked me what I liked best about it and I said setting up stuff and knocking it down. Thirty five years ago at an alternative summer camp I got into a fight with a guy I had a crush on. He insisted that feeling was all that mattered. I was insisting structure. I guess I haven’t changed.

What do you do when you finish a piece?

I’m Going Down, Down, Down, Down, Down, Down, Down.

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It’s one short mostly inconsequential scene and yet it takes all day, two days, three. Keep going back to it. More, less, add, chip. Why is it there. Delete. Replace, Delete. Now, it’s more a contest of wills. Will this little piece of shit scene win? Vanquish you and your lands. Oh, lord, let it go, move on, you are not the youngest person in the room. Maybe the scene is key or is it just setting something up and if that’s the case isn’t it, by it’s very nature, a golf tee?

What’s your favorite sports metaphor for writing?

 

Can’t Live if Living is Without You

 

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Do you think writers, by nature, are loners? And by loner I mean someone who generally feels alone, even at a party, especially at a party.  A person who can’t stand more than a few hours of togetherness, who prefers and relishes time alone. It’s taken me a long to time to understand that while I have the loner in me, I also like to be of the world. I’ve always felt these two parts of myself were in conflict, but I’m beginning to realize that they feed each other. I’m really happy to say that this week I’m burrowing in my mole hole.  I hope to see no one and no daylight. I plan to wear the same thing, eat the same food, do my back exercises and finish the fucker.

What are you getting done by the end of the summer?

I Can’t Make You Love Me

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The good news: Keanu Reeves has become a book publisher. The bad news: he doesn’t accept submissions from agents.

Why is life so unfair?

Take a Letter, Maria, Send It To My Wife

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Yesterday, I gave an informational interview to a young man in search of employment in the publishing industry. I didn’t really want to take the time, but then I reflected on my own post graduate days when I idiotically bought cream paper to type my cover letters on and could not find cream White-out. I was a horrible typist, which also explains why I didn’t get any publishing jobs at that time, but worse I spent those hot summer days desperately trying not to make mistakes on my portable two-tone Smith-Corona, lest I have to retype the letter all over again. To Whom It May Concern. For Whom the Bell Tolls. All of which explains how I became the Corporate File Coordinator for two years in the Morgan Stanley Library, where I learned to retrieve documents from the SEC, print documents off microfiche, file documents in dossiers, shag bicycle messengers in the supply closet, buy joints on 10th Avenue and eat two Chipwiches for lunch, from different vendors, so no one would suspect. So when the young man asks me what my usual day like a literary agent is like, well, it’s mind blowing.

What was your first job?

 

There’s More Than One Answer to These Questions

Today, on the down staircase, I was behind a young man whose t-shirt said, “Love your haters. They are your biggest fans.” Which means I am my biggest fan because I am my biggest hater. Go me! Do you think that your haters are your biggest fans because hating takes so much energy, impressive energy. I know I’m totally enthralled with the people I hate. I probably think about them more than the people I love. I hate myself for saying that.  My mother once told me not to waste my energy hating. That it hurts me more than it hurts them. Yes! Yes! Hating and self-loathing meet like the two rivers that flow into an estuary. And I hate myself for saying estuary.

What do you hate?

Wild Geese That Fly With the Moon on Their Wing

 

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Spent most of my vacation writing. The morning shift. The Osprey shift. The gradual light on the green lawn. I have to admit that I never really got in the zone. I felt rushed and agitated. I had two brainstorms then I promptly forgot them, like the realization you’re always just about to make in therapy, only then it wobbles on the edge of consciousness. I have a fantasy about writers who work full time on their writing that is horse shit. There is nothing pure or privileged or all hail the queen. You have to get to the green. You have to sink it. It’s not up to anyone else.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?