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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Let Me Photograph You In This Light


Just finished my last reading on this mini-tour.  I finally caved and got a Kit Kat. I’m crashing. It’s hard not to hate on myself. In fact, the better I do, the more I hate. It’s just an old song, a sad reflex, a folie a deux between me and myself. And it’s not all that bad either, just a familiar old friend showing up when you least need it. No mini bar. MSNBC 24/7. A young woman asked why I went into publishing instead of becoming a writer. Why did I become a bicycle instead of a fish? I have to get out of this dress.

How am I doing?












I need to get out of this dress.



It’s Not Time To Make a Change

metal20suit20hangerToday was a double-header. A reading in the morning and  the evening. That’s a lot of Bridge and Betsy. I’m chillin’ now with MSNBC in an overly warm hotel room in Fort Lauderdale. No mini bar. I love the ladies who turn out for these events. They’re major readers and book buyers. It’s easy to make them laugh. They come with their stories of daughters who don’t talk to them, mothers who criticized.They ask a lot of the same questions: what does my mother think; has my daughter read the book, how long did it take to write? Are you working something else? Tonight a first: a fan gave me doobie!!! My mother was not amused.

What did your mother do to you?



I am he as you are he as you are me And we are all together


In a few days, I’m meeting with six students in a MFA program for one-on-one sessions to talk about their writing. They have each turned in twenty pages of their novels-in-progress. I read the pages today and was struck by a few different things. First, the pieces were diverse. When I was in graduate school, everyone wanted to be Raymond Carver or Anne Beatty. Everyone was trying to write the same story. These students were all over the place: sci-fi, elliptical structure, parallel stories, confessional, absurdist and one I can’t describe. It was the stippling of a trout, a column of stacked clouds, a choppy sea dotted with grey-blue seals. They all seemed free.

What kind of writer are you?

The Words She Knows the Tune She Hums


avery-girl_writingBuckled down this weekend and got some serious revision done. For me the key is putting the pages down for a week or so and looking at them fresh. Putting the pages down, stepping away from the car, is really hard. Losing a connection with your work is kind of terrifying. What if you can’t reconnect? What if, when you check in, it’s an unmitigated disaster? Some writers say it’s all about the revision.

What say you?

Feeling Good Was Good Enough For Me


Who’s still in therapy? Not me, but I need it more than ever. Here’s why I won’t go back: I’m tired of the moi. I see all the therapists of Christmas past dancing in front of my eyes, mocking me.  I see the couches and vacations in Turks and Cakes that I paid for. I think about all the pain that pools into an hour, the Persian  carpets whose threads I counted. I might as well start smoking and drinking again. Coke Zero. You have to stand up sometimes. Sometimes strength means asking for help.

People Fall In Love In Mysterious Ways


I cleaned my desk today and organized a desk drawer. That should give you some indication of the suck ass day I had trying to patch a few sentences together. Why am I alive? Why do I want to do this more than anything else? Why can’t I ever be happy? I wish I went by Elizabeth. Betsy Barrett Browning. Betsy Harwick. Betsy Bishop. Betsy Gaskell. I wish I went to Nova Scotia after grad school and married a potter. I actually separated large from small paper clips. I threw away pens that dried up and pencils that went stale.

How be you?

You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go


Big front page article about how much reading means to President Obama. As if it didn’t already hurt enough that this beautiful man was leaving office. This man who loves Shakespeare, and Emerson and Toni Morrison. He invited five writers to the White House: Colson Whitehead, Barbara Kingsolver, Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith and Junot Diaz. I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the list and not just because it didn’t include me. I feel like the list could have been a little more provocative, different genres, or just weird.

What five writers would you invite to the White House?