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Posts from the ‘Betsy’ Category

Betsy: Pitches/submissions wanted for my blogazine

Hi. I’m really happy with how my new blogazine, The BetsyG-Spot, is coming along. I’ve gotten great feedback on the quality of the essays, and I’ve published one wonderful essay by another writer, with another in the queue.

I welcome your pitches/submissions for my site. While I am not currently paying writers, the more readership the site builds the more likely I will be to pay writers in the future.

I take pitches for the Sex in the Suburbs feature. I recommend that you read what’s there already and also take a look at my Submissions page. As you’ll see, I don’t take stories about marital bliss (though I am really happy for you if you have that!), so if you are interested in writing something, dig deep and go somewhere you might not ordinarily go when you think about relationships. The subject doesn’t have to be dark—in fact, I really favor humor—but it does need to be personal and go somewhere unexpected.

The Wheel of Fortune feature is a bit more flexible, and I am willing to look at submissions of any length for it. Topics include Weird Things that Happen (an informal vignette is welcome here from any reader), Mind and Body, Media (reviews, points of view), Getting On (ack…this is really about aging), Nostalgia, and Random…with more topics to come. Really, humor should be at the fore, but a really great, true story or essay about something on the poignant end is also welcome.

In any case, I hope you’ll give it a read and pass it on to others you think might like this type of content. Growing a blog turns out to be a lot of work!

Betsy: My new blogazine

I’ve been a bit incommunicado from Creative Construction, because I’ve been creatively constructing a new blogazine, including unraveling all the technical mysteries of self-hosted WordPress blogs. But tonight (or this morning, as it were), I am announcing The BetsyG-Spot, at

I hope you’ll come take a look. I’m calling it a blogazine because it’s a blog format, but most of the pieces are essays rather than true blog entries. Here’s the way I’ve laid it out:

Each Monday, The BetsyG-Spot features essays—humorous, personal, and often poignant—about relationships, written by me and other authors. Similar in tone and style to my essays that were published in the Boston Globe Magazine’s Coupling column, the content of these pieces isn’t constrained by the limits of a family newspaper.

Wheel of Fortune Wednesdays feature essays in a variety of forms and on a variety of topics, ranging from “weird things that happen,” to diet pills, to media reviews.

On Fridays, I’ll publish reader stories related to the Monday column, compiled and edited from the most original and interesting reader send-ins.

I hope you’ll take a look, give a read, subscribe, link to it (*please* link to it), rate it, and favorite it on whatever social networking sites you belong to. If nothing else, please do look at the thank-you page…appreciation is shown to our Creative Construction blog mistress.

If anyone has a blog with similar content (humor and personal essays), let me know. I’d love to put you on my blogroll. and, if you’re an essayist (particularly with a humorous or quirky bent), take a look at my submission guidelines…I’m planning to feature the work of other writers, and I’m hoping to be able to pay them not too far down the road.

Wish me luck!

Betsy: Productive turnabout

I’ve had a huge turnabout since I last posted (which was a while ago) that I am pretty excited about. I think one major trigger for this turnabout has been the writing Fridays I have been spending with Miranda. The other trigger is that I am not working as much, which is why I have time for “writing Fridays.”

I have always had a hard time writing for myself when my job is writing for others. It just doesn’t leave much writing brainspace, if you know what I mean. So I’m glad, in a way, I’ve been a bit short on work so I can focus on some personal writing projects, as I’ve been meaning to for the last several years when I’ve had to work full-time.

My current project definitely got its kickoff when Miranda and I got together for writing. While we do spend some time gabbing, for the most part we are both working intently. I like having a place to go and a “co-worker” in the room. It is a highly productive time.

In any case, I have written a ton and am really excited about getting my new blog off the ground. It is taking up pretty much every minute of my time (I don’t really have time to write this…PhotoShop calls…), but I look forward every day to doing the work, whether it’s writing, designing the page, or dealing with some of the technical issues.

And now, knocking water pipes call… (What is that about?)


Since I had to go back to work full-time about two years ago, I have not been nurturing my creative writing career. When I write for work, I find it hard to find the brainspace for my creative writing. That and, as a single mom of three kids (one not-self-driven and applying to colleges), I’m just so darned busy.

In the past few months, I’ve been able to cut my hours back some, and more recently, I’ve resolved to set aside at least a few hours on Thursdays for my own work. There always seems to be something that encroaches on the time, but for the second week in a row I am at least doing some of the business of writing if not the writing itself.

Last week I spent the morning preparing submissions for a contest. Granted, I hadn’t written anything new for a while, but I had a stack of stories I’d never submitted anywhere that fit the contest category. While it wasn’t as grand an accomplishment as writing a new story or finishing revising the epic essay I’ve been working on, it was something, and for now that’s all I can ask of myself.

Today, I am spending the morning doing pitches for a column in which I’ve been published in the past (the last time a year ago). Hanging over me is an article I need to edit for the publication I work on, as well as the oil-change in my car, the shopping and packing I need to do for a ski trip this weekend (as well as aforementioned epic essay revision), and a half hour on the StairMaster, but I’m determined to at least get this out and have it be killer. Not so easy, but at this point any small steps I can take are better than what’s been going on creatively with me for the past couple of years.

Of course, the fact that I’m writing this post on a Thursday morning tells you a little bit about my ability to procrastinate. Oh, let’s put a positive spin on that and say that I am actually processing what I’ve written so far so I can go back and refine it…

Betsy: Success stories

I noticed in the last couple of days I seem to be spewing advice about how to write/finish large works while being a mother. Where do I get off…? Aren’t I struggling just as everyone else is?

I am, but for very different reasons, ones that have more to do with not having time to feed my creative spirit than logistics. Currently, I’m divorced and have every other weekend free. My kids are older. I could conceivably find plenty of time to write. Different problem there, which perhaps I’ll share some other time.

As it turns out, looking back I realize I had success writing creatively when I had young children. I just confirmed that I apparently wrote a whole screenplay when I was still married and my kids were just under 2, 8, and 10. I wrote my first screenplay when I had a 6-year-old and 4-year-old with a chronic illness requiring frequent hospitalizations. How the heck did I do that? I’ve thought back on it, and I wanted to share how I did it in case it is useful to anyone.

I can remember pretty well writing my first screenplay. First, I wasn’t working. That helps a lot and certainly not everyone has that freedom. My mind was clear to focus on my work and I didn’t feel like I was squeezing in my own writing between my “real” work. (When I write for a living, I have a very hard time writing creatively.)

Second, I knew what I was doing. While I don’t tend to work with an outline, I find that when I have a pretty good idea of the beginning, middle, and especially the end of a piece at least vaguely in mind, it is easier to aim for the ending, like galloping toward a finish line. Except it’s more like hiking up a mountain, because I really enjoy the view along the way.

Third, as we’ve discussed in other posts, I had a scheduled writing time. My 6-year-old was in school for most of the day, and my 4-year-old was in preschool for three hours a day, five days a week. With the drive to and from preschool factored in, I could count on 2.5 hours every day for my work. I probably used one day per week for straightening the house or food shopping.

Finally, the minute I sat down at the computer, I worked, making the most possible of the time available. Knowing the time was there–and how much time I had–was very helpful.

The funny thing about the second screenplay is I don’t even remember writing it, but according to e-mails with review comments that I saved, I managed to get the thing done while my youngest was between 1 and 2. Because I did not use any childcare at the time, I can only assume I wrote it during his naps while the others were at school. (My ex was not very helpful, so I’m sure he didn’t watch him while I worked on weekends.) Alex must have been a decent napper (funny how you forget what #3 did). And I imagine that the minute I put him down I went right to the computer to work.

As we’ve talked about in other posts, there were tradeoffs. For sure, the tidiness of my house suffered. The first screenplay is probably around the time that I stopped keeping Lego Systems kits together, which meant that all of those expensive kits became useless. Honestly, I regret that, but I can’t say I regret having a finished screenplay that was at least read seriously at several studios, even if no one ultimately bought it. I guess this is what you need to think about when you let things go. multimedia-message10.jpgRight now, I’m surrounded by mess, the result of years of letting things go in favor of writing. (Oh, and I gained a lot of weight, too, as I let exercise go and healthy meal preparation.) It’s hard to recover from, and cleaning is not what I want to be doing during my spare time. I think my neater friends shudder when they see my mess. What’s ironic is I really, really like things organized and I hate clutter. But I guess I’ve trained myself as much as possible not to see it anymore, or to convince myself that I’ll take care of one small pile of it tomorrow…

As a technical writer, one small tip I recommend to anyone writing large, structured documents–fiction or non–is to keep each chapter or chunk in its own document. While you might title each document by chapter number, you might alternately want to title each document by subject or current contents, at least in the early going. I find that doing so helps me think about which chapter I want to tackle, and also I don’t have to open documents to find out what’s in them (which can waste time and distract you from what you really mean to do).

As a working mom, I find it infinitely more difficult to do my own writing. How some of you manage to juggle it all is beyond me. I’m in awe and admiration of you.

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