The Ambivalent Writer, The Natural, The Wicked Child, The Self Promoter, The Neurotic: which one are you? These are the first five chapter titles of Betsy Lerner’s (agent, writer, editor) book, The Forest for the Trees. It was published in 2000, and I’ve probably read it yearly since I buying it. (Note picture of worn book reflecting clutching, bathtub reading, and talismanic lifting to heart, kissing, and offering to God)
Lerner’s book will always be on top of my constantly changing TOP TEN WRITING BOOKS list. Not because it teaches one better ways to write, not because it teaches one how to navigate the shoals of publishing, and not because it will teach you a guaranteed way to get an agent (though it will help with all the above) but because it takes you to the other side of the desk and holds up a mirror. An unflinching mirror held in a sympathetically lit room.
Lerner holds your hand; she interprets your dreams (and the meaning of query responses) and scolds when needed. In other words, you’ll get a writer’s shrink for the cost of a trade paperback.
Most notable, is Lerner’s writing. Clear as water, cool as the same, and welcome as a brownie to a food addict, her words entertain, teach, and soothe. For this writer, it’s self-prescribed two ways: 1) take as needed. 2) Read minimum once per year.
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