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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Just Like Me They Long to Be Close to You


How many times have you heard show don’t tell? What exactly does it mean? One writer I worked with described making scenes three dimensional. A glowing net that sweeps the skies. A cage filled with birds. The locking limbs inside a kaleidoscope, the tiny glass bells beneath the branch. What if I said tell, tell, tell.

Are you Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchette?

Picture Yourself on a Boat in a River

Day two of the big revise. Worked for four hours. Did pilates (yes, you heard that right). Did more work. Went to a late afternoon movie about a woman who goes off her Lithium. No idea why that would speak to me. I’ve never plugged a movie in all these years of posting, but I urge you see Empire of Light. I was so deeply pulled in. So moved. Olivia Colman is my spirit animal.

Got any movie recs?

Someone Told Me Long Ago There’s a Calm Before the Storm


Today is Day One of work on my revision and my plan is to report in every day until I finish the fucker. When my friend George read a draft of The Bridge Ladies, he asked me if I had printed it out and read it aloud. I knew what he was getting at and I was ashamed to say I hadn’t. I work too fast and the computer is my ally in that. I’m taking some time off to slow down. This is new for me and I’m filled with excitement, which means dread if you know me at all. I printed it out and wrote some new scenes in long hand in a notebook. Honestly, that felt luxurious. And in between I cleaned the closets within an inch of their lives.

What’s your speed?

Is This the Real Life is This Just Fantasy

I’m not going to say happy new year because we all know that last year, this year, and next year are all the same fucking thing. But I will say this, I had a revelation about writing yesterday while walking in the NYC. At least for me, part of why I write is to say what I want and need to say, but part of why I write is to find out about myself. That’s the scary and thrilling part like biting into something you can’t see inside. I think I’ve been playing it too safe, dearest dumpling, going for the easy laughs as a former editor once pointed out to me. And you know how it hate when other people are right. Well, I’m going to start revising my book and I’m going to push myself on a language level, on a personal level, and on a fuck it level. Reports to come.

What are you going to try not to do this year? What’s your anti-resolution?

So I Put My Hands Up They’re Playing My Song

Closed the books yesterday at the agency. Filed final payrolls. Sent out gifts, cards, bonuses and put the out of office notice on. My dog is curled up and sleeping beside me. We’re watching My Cousin Vinny. The dishwasher is running through its cycles. I’m ready to call it. I’m ready to detach a little. I’d like to throw my phone in the lake. But most of all I want to thank all of the beautiful commenters and mysterious lurkers who hang out at the Okay Corral. I love you all. Thank you for listening. See you in the new year. Love, Betsy

Make a wish.

It’s the Only Thing That There’s Just Too Little Of


My mother said that when I was three years old, I kept a car full of adults waiting to go somewhere because I insisted on tying my shoes myself. I’m still like that. I hate accepting help. I want to do everything myself. I know it’s completely false and yet I cling to this idea of myself as impervious to help. I still can’t reconcile all these warring parts of myself. And I’m almost sixty-three.

What myths did you grow up with?

It’s Laughter and It’s Loving I Disdain


Publishers are shutting down. Emails are trickling in. False cheer pervades the air. It can only mean one thing. It’s time to write your ass off. It’s time to shut out the world and stay in your housecoat. It’s time to reflect on nothing and go forth into that bad night. I hear so many excuses for not writing that if I had a nickel. Do you feel me? I am daring you to get 15 pages done by the new year and then we’ll talk resolutions and weight loss. I love you but I love solitude more.

What’s your pledge?

Whistle Blowing Through my Brain

I’ve hit the halfway point in War & Peace. I would like it be among a few artifacts in my casket including my say no evil plastic monkey, my great grandmother’s gold pocket watch, and my iPhone. I’m not sure which will come first, the end of W&P or my demise. I’m surprised that I prefer the war parts to the parlor parts. It’s in war, I suppose, where true character is revealed. I’m already plotting my next classic. I figure I have twenty good reading years left if I’m lucky and I want to make them count.

Any recommendations?

Everyone Knew Her as Nancy

Why does Meghan have to call Harry “H?” And why does he feel the need to call her “M?” And who started it and why couldn’t they keep it to themselves. I don’t refer to my husband as Corn Chip or Bunny or Goose or Mighty Oak. Not on national television. I don’t want to hear it and you don’t want to hear it. I have a friend who calls me Butter. It’s our business. Another calls me Dodo, and another calls me Barts. Okay? No one gives a shit. Lovey dovey affectionate names are PRIVATE. I think this whole “H” thing is going to blow up in their faces. It’s tempting fate. It’s stuck up. You heard it here first.

Do you have a nick name?

A Kiss for Luck and We’re on Our Way

If I may flex, two of my clients’ books are back on the NYT bestseller list. Some think that bestsellers and prizes are shallow and ultimately insignificant. That what matters is the work. The process. The journey. Okay, whatever. I’m in it for the glory, for the gold, the adoration of the masses. I’m looking for prizes and page turners, ribbons and medals. The sound of many hands clapping. Do I need outside forces to confirm my self worth? Fuck, yes.

Where do you get your self-worth?