• 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 Send You All My Love Every Day In a Letter

December 1987

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To Mark

Whom I hope will always remain a poet in eternal youth and never lose his precious innocence.

Merry  Christmas baby

I love you, Rachel

 

I grabbed my copy of Poets in Their Youth by Eileen Simpson to take to Jury Duty (I got dismissed). I’d had it for years, found it in a second hand book store, was desperate to read it, but didn’t. When I opened it today, I found the inscription above. I felt like I was eavesdropping. Why was this beloved gift abandoned, returned, tossed back into the sea. Next, precious innocence? Doesn’t every poet want experience? But mostly I was so touched one person would give another a gift about poets in their youth.

Where are Mark and Rachel now?

There Were Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things

 

ac73a58d909a128c7b123b9580879d1cI have jury duty tomorrow and I’m probably one of the few people in America who likes being called. (I also like conventions and trade shows). I love the people watching/scrutinizing, the bailiffs, the lawyers in their ill-fitting suits, and the ceremony. It feels like walking into a short story. I like the rules. I like to see what people are reading, if they are reading. I like the boredom, the slow hands of the clock, the linoleum. The thing I love about being a writer is the goddamn anthropology of everything.

What do you like that everyone else hates?

 

 

But It Wouldn’t Be Make Believe If You Believed In Me

 

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Did you see the eclipse or were you too busy writing? Did you feel the atmosphere change, the air charge, the shadows fall hard on the pavement. Did your heart darken, harden? Did you feel a drop? Did the wind die down? Your cape fall from  a telephone pole. Were ravens praying on a bench. Did you find a tangle of cellophane or a cup of moss, a cairn made of many stones? Did you think about nothing or how hollow you feel most of the time, even now under this delinquent sun?

Your eclipse?

I’ve Been Afraid of Changing

Congratulations to our beloved and beguiling SSS on her publication day.  This is true cause for celebration. Sherry thank you for being such an integral and supportive and loving member of our truly dysfunctional family. We love you. Congrats. You not only finished the fucker, you got her published. Wow.

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The Love You Save May Be Your Own

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I’m going on vacation tomorrow, which means I’m going upstairs to my home office, lashing myself to the desk for seven days, and hoping that I win. It’s a death match, this writing business. It’s you against the beast. I don’t have any spiritual feeling about the work. I hate the words process and journey. I don’t send postcards. To me, it’s work. I don’t plan on learning anything new about myself or growing. I just want to go in punching and be the last man standing. Love you and leave you, fellow nut balls. Hope to see you next week.

What’s your idea of a vacation?

 

Regrets Collect Like Old Friends

 

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Today was my birthday and if you’re a writer you know what that means. Misery. Never enough attention. Want to be alone. Disgusted with lack of output. Disgusted with attitude. Inured to good wishes. Lonely when surrounded by friends. Hopeless. Speeches to self. Recriminations. Regret tinged with fear.  Bad hair. Bad skin. Rage against the machine, the body. No candles. No cake. No let up.

What’s your one wish?

I Sing Because I’m Happy, I Sing Because I’m Free

 

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Do you bounce around between fiction and non-fiction, poetry and plays, you get the point. Do you think writers are drawn to a certain genres almost genetically. For me it was poetry from age 15-25. A solid decade of line breaks and metaphors. I never dreamed of writing anything else. And when I went to grad school, it was nearly frowned upon to cross the aisle. Like you were a dilettante. I think anything is possible when parsnip marries potato.

Are you faithful or genre-promiscuous?