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’re Still Young That’s Your Fault

Today, Day 20, and we are in the final third of this thirty day challenge. I know some people are cooking. Some are dropping in and out. Others have said fuck it. Wherever you are, if you’re still checking in, start tomorrow. Just see what you can do in ten days, thirty minutes a day. I have been shocked to see the pages accrue with just thirty minutes of work.

This morning, this quote jumped out at me in today’s paper from the writer Hanif Abdurraqib, “I’m not in a band. I didn’t get to be a pro athlete. In the end, I stumbled upon something that I didn’t know was a dream.” Tell me about it. I didn’t get to be a psychoanalyst. I didn’t get to run Paramount.

What didn’t you do?

Don’t Look Too Close Into the Palm of My Hand

When I was nineteen, I was a sophomore at NYU. I had gotten kicked out of film school and took my refuge in the school of arts & sciences where I entered the leagues of lost English majors. I know I lived in a dorm, but I can’t remember any of my roommates. I can remember my favorite bench in Washington Square Park where I spent hours smoking cigarettes and reading and people watching. New York is was and always will the great parade of humanity and I its humble bystander. When I was nineteen, I hadn’t yet fallen in love, I hadn’t found a friend to share my writing with. Much of what I did was secretive: secret eating, secret writing, secret crushes, secret depressive episodes.

Friends, it’s Day 19 and I’m still typing.

What were you like when you were 19?

All I Need is a Miracle

Day 18. If you’ve fallen off a few days it’s not a big deal. This isn’t AA where you have to start all over on Day 1 if you “slipped.” If you’re here and you’re trying to write and you’re struggling, you’re in the right place. The beauty is you just need to find 30 minutes. Not a day, not a half day, not a room of your own, not a silent car, all you need is thirty minutes. I have to tell you, I had no idea when I floated this idea what would happen. For me, it’s been completely liberating. Every day, I can find thirty minutes and my project likes the attention.

Please weigh in and let us know how you’re doing.

And She’ll Have Fun Fun Fun

It’s Friday! Day Seventeen of the Thirty day writing challenge! Do you know where your children are? Today I had fun writing. Yes, I actually had fun. Me, Betsy Lerner, Queen of darkness, actually enjoyed the tapping. I shall prepare for a crushing experience tomorrow. But for right now, I’m cracking open a can of diet ginger ale and kicking back for some Netflix marriage. Guys! Guys! I can’t believe we’re at Day 17. Day 17!!!

Do you ever think of an audience when you write?

It’s Getting Hard to Be Someone But it All Works Out

Day 16. So appreciative of all the comments and insights surrounding our work. You know that one of the things I love about writing is that you do it alone and it’s lonely. I’ve never joined a book club or writers group (even though I am aware that this blog has been home to different writers groups over the years and they all make me completely happy). Still, I discovered writing as a child, and all through my teenage years and adult life, its delicious narcissistic promise of self involvement has never let me down. I don’t just go to write, I go to be alone, to steep, to steal myself away. To enjoy the exquisite pleasure of my own company. So yes, this sweet little community is fucking with my head. I did my dirty thirty.

How about you? Do you need help getting up the hill?

And the Traffic Wrote the Words

Day 15. I had a really good day. At least I think I did. That’s the beauty of writing. You really don’t know if you had a good day. You don’t know if what you did was great, garbage, or something in between. You might like it one day and not the next. You can’t tell if you’ve been kicked in the head or in the ass. Enter the snowflake land.

Do you have any way of knowing if you did good work?

Don’t Go Changing to Try and Please Me

DAY 14. If you’re reading this you’re half way there. Congratulations. I’ll come clean: I didn’t write today. I’m not going to make excuses because there are no reasons good enough not to write for just 30 minutes. I was also going to have a yogurt for lunch but somehow found myself demolishing a bagel with tuna fish. The whole idea behind the 30/30 was continuity whether you had a good day or a bad day or a blah day. It was about no excuses and balls to the wall. Sorry to have let you down,

What have you learned in 14 days?

Birds Fly Over the Rainbow Why Then Oh Why Can’t I?

Day 13. Day 13. Day 13. It’s time to do a little dance if you’ve been writing every day. I had a bonafide good day, banged out three pages. Of course, the writing gods could strike me down tomorrow. That’s the beauty of writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re despairing or feeling transcendent, it will kick you in the head. It’s like a guy who takes your number and never calls.

What did you write today?

Uh Oh, Uh Oh, Uh Oh, Uh, No, No

Wrote two more lackluster paragraphs. I may have napped in between them. It’s always special when your own work puts you to sleep. I wish I could say that I’m filled with confidence and positivity. On the contrary this project feels like pure folly today. Just more wanking in the wank yard. You know what I really hate? When writers are interviewed and they gas on about their process. You can tell Terry Gross that your process is the Betsy Lerner Thirty Minute Mental Hospital Method. By the way, it’s DAY 12, bitches!!!

What makes you crazy?

I Can Take All the Madness the World Has to Give

Day 11 was yesterday but yours truly was a Plus 1 at a shmancy dinner for the world’s pre-eminent Romanian writer where many glasses of red wine were imbibed along with a pork chop the size of Texas. Did I do my dirty thirty in the afternoon. The fuck I did. Was it pretty? No. Was it interesting? Not really. It was a meat and potatoes two paragraphs that need to be rewritten but decent in that it forwarded my plotless plot.

Are you still with me?