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

  • Follow me

  • Archives

The First Cut is the Deepest



Gave a reading tonight in a small town in Massachusetts. When I pulled into the parking lot, there were three cars. Heart sank. Getting out of the car, I told myself that I’m a professional. Doesn’t matter if there are three or three hundred people; it’s a job. A Bridge Club of twelve women showed up. By 6:00 pm there were 30- 40 people. I was never so happy to see faces. After the reading, I went to the bathroom and discovered that my part had gone haywire and there was loop of hair that looked like the cyclone on the top of my head.

Embarrassing moments in the fields of publishing? Please share and make me feel better.

If I Could Make Wishes Come True



Would you sleep with Louis C.K.? Do the words “syndication” mean anything to? When I got to graduate school, I was told that my writing was okay if I wanted to be the next Fran Leibovitz. IT was said as a put down, but I honestly took it as a compliment. I think being funny on the page is more difficult that anything else. Once, a reader of this humble blog said that he spit coffee on his monitor because of something I wrote. The reason I remember it is because it THE BEST compliment of my writing life.

Do you write funny?

Sharing Horizons That Are New To Us


lightweight-scarf_library-card_3_1024x1024Spent the day in the library, piles of books, my yellow pad, left the friggin’ phone in the car. It was heaven. What I love so much about library books are the cards tucked into the envelope glued in the back with the dates stamped in: a trail of readers. This physical manifestation of a book being shared, of having its own history, traveling through different hands. In a biography of the Wright Brothers, someone wrote in the margin: yes.

Do you have a library memory?

I Made It Through the Rain

Dear Readers of this blog: This is one to stand up and cheer. Not only did our every own SSS challenge herself to a year of dares, write about them with great wit, she accomplished the most difficult undertaking of all: she got the fucker published. Join me in wishing her a big congratulations. Better yet, buy a copy of the fucker. Truth: We love you Sherry!

And Good Old Boys Were Drinking Whiskey and Rye



Question (thank you Mike): Platforms, credentials, social media presence, published articles and stories; is it at all possible for someone to come in cold, with nothing but a magnificent story and a so-so query letter and find a way out there in the world of letters? I mean, if a thunderbolt split the sky and rattled the windows, a lone ray of light shining down on an anonymous pile of pages, would that manuscript stand a chance?
Or have I just not been paying attention?



It’s not that you haven’t been paying attention, and I hear all the frustration behind the question. That said, there is no thunderbolt. If you have a magnificent story, send it out and keep sending it out. There are no rattled windows or lone rays. It’s just you, the lone writer, sending your work out over and over and over. Writing more, getting an MFA or taking classes if you keep hitting a wall. Getting your writing workshopped. Maybe going to writers conferences and networking with editors, other writers, agent. You don’t have to have a million twitter followers or an MFA from Iowa, but you have to build your name/profile in the literary world. Yes, it’s an imperative.

WHat say you?















Don’t You Ever for a Second Get to Thinking You’re Irreplaceable

Did I ever turn down a book that went on to become a bestseller. Have you heard of The Liar’s Club? It happens. But there is also a kind of hubris at work to imagine that the book would have had the same impact no matter who published it. The same manuscript published by five different publishers would have five different trajectories on its way into the world. It might have had a different title, would definitely have a different jacket, the editorial work would be different. And the marketing and publicity might have focussed on different medial. Even the time of year when the book came out would have been different and had an impact on the publication. But, yeah, I fucked up.

What bestseller would you have turned down?

Yesterday Don’t Matter If It’s Gone


2cooldollssmallerIt’s elusive even to me sometimes and that’s with thirty years of working in publishing as an editor, agent and writer. I think it’s because what makes books good is so subjective. You can look at the bestseller list and think it’s all crap. You can read the National Book Award winner and think the emperor has no clothes. When I started as an agent, I sold two novels. One went for a pittance and the other for a small fortune. It made no sense to me whatsoever, especially since I thought the reverse would happen. How does it work?

What do you want to know?