• 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 Miss the Earth so Much I Miss My Wife

 

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It’s the end of year and that can only mean one thing: best of lists. The New York Times released its top ten books of the year and one hundred best books. I can’t believe my fucking Bridge Ladies didn’t make it. Or was it published last year.? Who can fucking remember. I never wanted to be on a best books list anyway. Give me an Oscar or give me nothing. And you shall have it in abundance!

What’s on your top worst list besides Dunkirk, Starbucks low fat bacon sandwich and Larry David’s return especially the episode with Salmon Rushdie,

 

Like a Fool I Went and Stayed Too Long

 

inkwell-porcelain-blue-signed-louchetTwo first-time authors in the last few months asked my advice about what to sign in people’s books at their readings. For The Forest for the Trees, I wrote: Keep Writing! For Food and Loathing, I wrote: Love and Doughnuts. And for The Bridge Ladies, I’d sometimes write: Don’t forget to pull trump. Or I’d write: Learn Bridge.  Or: Are You My Mother. Or: Get My Daughter Drugs! Or: Fuck me dead.

What do you sign?

You’re Amazing Just the Way You Are

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What would it be like to paint or sit in an orchestra pit? Or Bruno Mars moving like silk. What would it be like to audition, stare into the face of a director and casting agent in a darkened theater. You are a monologue, a pair of tap shoes, the horse hair on Cezanne’s brush. You discovered the filament, the fiber, the fringe on a red velvet curtain, burnished and dusty, ropes of gold. You have no idea what your body beholds. You can’t remember your name. You cannot sculpt, or sing, or make anyone laugh.

What do you wish?

You Get What You Need

 

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Today: client got nominated for a grammy, talked to a promising young writer, helped set up social media for book event, saw first pass at a marketing idea for Christmas, finished writing an editorial letter to a client, made three lunch dates for the new year and one drinks date to celebrate a book bestselling to close out the year, reviewed a contract, begged a writer to cut 30,000 words from his first novel, took my mother to tour an assisted living facility, bought a few gifts for the holidays, made a chicken.

How about you?

 

I Got All My Sisters With Me

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You all know how I feel about holidays and family. I mean it’s material. Only then you get older and all the “toxic dynamics” are no longer interesting. It’s like the turkey; you can only stand so much. And then you’re underneath the crawl space with a composition notebook and blanket for the mildewed floor. “Loyalty to the family is tyranny to the self.” A friend told me that a long time ago and I tattooed it on my heart.

What does your tattoo say?

I See My Light Come Shining

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When people discover that I work in publishing, they always ask what I’m reading, and the answer is pretty much always manuscripts. When aspiring writers ask me about going into publishing, I warn them about this occupational hazard. It has always seemed to me that if you wanted to be a great writer, you had to read the greatest writers. Some years back, I was reading the sixth or seventh draft of a book that was never going to find its pulse and I thought: I’m going to go to my grave having read this manuscript multiple times and having never read Crime and Punishment. That night, I went home and started Crime and Punishment. One of the all time great reading experiences of my life.

What do you want to read before you die?

 

If You Don’t Know Me By Now

 

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So nice to hear from so many of you. Sorry to read about losses, too.

I always hated people who said, Thank got it’s Friday. Or hump day. Or Monday is the new Thursday. Or who talked around the “water cooler,” or talked about the weather as if observing rain were original or interesting. Unless it was like two nights ago. Do you feel me? When I was in Miami for the book fair, a young woman got up at the Q&A and read a poem. I would have never done that in my entire life, which has made me re-evaluate my entire life.

Ballsy or obnoxious?