Betsy Lerner is the author of The Forest for the Trees, Food and Loathing and The Bridge Ladies. She received an MFA from Columbia University in Poetry and was the recipient of a Thomas Wolfe Poetry Prize and an Academy of American Poets Poetry Prize, and was one of PEN's Emerging Writers. She also received the Tony Godwin Publishing Prize for Editors Under 35. After working as an editor for fifteen years, she became an agent and is currently a partner with Dunow, Carlson and Lerner Literary Agency. She lives in Connecticut.
In this extract from her warm and funny memoir The Bridge Ladies, Betsy explains how discovering the unsung lives of her mother's oldest friends helped her to develop a better understanding of, and a more meaningful relationship with, her mother.
Don’t Go Changing to Try and Please Me - yesterday
You’re a first novelist and your mentor from the Iowa Writer’s Conference has referred you to her agent. You send your book to the agent who replies right away. At the same time, your uncle’s high school friend is a famous agent, famous for his A-list writers and unscrupulous ways. Both agents read your […]
Sometimes When We Touch, the Honesty’s Too Much - 2 days ago
The first time you sent out a story the first time you got rejected the first time you got accepted the first time you kissed a boy the first time you started a novel the first short story the first time you saw a play and cried when the convict died. The first time you […]
Cecilia, You’re Breaking My Heart - 5 days ago
Pip, Holden Caulfield, Lily Bart, Humbert, Ethan Frome, Miss Havisham, Portnoy. How do you name your characters? Phone book, high school year book, book of names? Or do they come to you in a dream, visions of Johanna. Do you start with a name and build from there, or does it emerge later, organically. […]
I Can Be Whatever I Want to Be - 7 days ago
I can’t tell if I’m a writer because I’m unhappy or if I’m unhappy because I’m a writer. I can’t tell when everything first went wrong or right. For me writing has always been about keeping secrets, which probably explains why my first loves were the confessional poets. I’m talking about writing in a […]
I’ve Looked Around Enough to Know - 10 days ago
Do you write for yourself or do you write for others?
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