Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goober Writers Anonymous--Barbara G. Tarn

Goober Writers Anonymous is a group for writers to vent about past or present writerly mistakes for therapeutic reasons, to educate others, or just for a laugh.  If you would like to join the group and sign up to submit a guest post, please leave me your email address in the comments below.

Perks of joining:  You get to put the nifty little badge on your blog (yes, this does indeed make you cool), sharing with others and being a part of a group is always fun, and I will put a link to your blog on my blog below under Members of GWA.

There are plenty of slots still open for December and I would love to get January and February filled up as well!  So, join today!

Today's goober post comes from Barbara G. Tarn from Creative Barbwire.  One of the great things about GWA is finding out about other amazing writers out there, and I've been stalking Barb from the shadows.  :P  She has a great blog that each and every one of you dear readers should check out.  Right. Now.  :D

Back yet?  Have you made sure to add her to your follow list?  Excellent!  


I've been writing since 1978, and I'm still unpublished - how's that for a start? It's a neverending love, which is great, but I MUST have done something wrong!

Well, my first mistake was thinking one day I'd be a published author without submitting. How was a publisher supposed to find me, you ask? I don't know, but shy me wouldn't send out stuff. That was the 1980s for you. OK, I was young and naive, eventually I got it. I started going to book fairs (comicons, actually. My first self-published works were comic books) and talking to editors and publishers.
My second mistake was much more recent, and I still wonder how I could... actually, I know, writer's insecurity. I tried to please every beta-reader, losing my vision in the process. You know how it goes: send out manuscript, get feedback, revise, send out again, get feedback, revise again, receive some contrasting opinions, wonder what's better and lose track of where the story is going. You can't please everybody, that's for sure.

So from now on I'll give my best draft to a batch of beta-readers, the very same to everybody: if all point out a weakness, a confusing plot point or whatever, I'll address the issue, if it's just one or two, I'll probably ignore it. THEN I'll hire a copy-editor for grammar and typos (as English is not my mother tongue) and THEN I'll either self-publish (fantasy novels too original to be marketed to publishers and agents) or start querying (historical novel when done). Trust me, this second mistake gave me a writer burn-out I want to avoid at all costs in the future. If you see my old manuscripts (yes, handwritten on notebooks) there are no corrections at all. I want to get back to that.

Some stories I write for myself (I call them uncensored) - but then I will never share them. I am good enough now with the "censored" stories to go out in the world, though - if I don't try to please everybody. This is never going to happen. So this is my best piece of advice for those eternal rewriters out there (and I'm including you, Emily! ;-)): finish the damn thing first! You won't believe how many writer friends of mine never finished their stories because they wanted them to be perfect. First drafts suck. Always. That's what Second Draft is for. But don't go past Draft 3 (or Final Draft) or you'll lose your vision.

Happy writing!

Indeed!  Great advice!  I've heard stories of writers working on their tenth, fifteenth, TWENTIETH draft and I'm wondering if there's even anything left to the poor thing!  

Nope, you can't please everybody.  In fact, I've been reading THE FOREST FOR THE TREES and the author, Betsy Lerner, suggests that if your work is offending people, you might just be onto something.

Thanks, Barb, for sharing such a great post with us today!  

Discussion:  Any eternal rewriters out there?  If not, what's your secret for ignoring the steady hum of opinions that just don't jive with your vision for your book?


  1. dah! yeah, i do that too! it's hard for me to not apply crit- even if i don't agree with it, because i always think that the other person knows better than me!
    great advice! :)

  2. My secret is to STOP sending my ms out to beta readers once I've corrected a batch or two or revisions, hahaha. I consider it finished and start querying.

    I admit I do sometimes come back to novels after they've marinated for a while, and revise again. But I like to wrap things up and move onto new projects.

  3. Way to go barb!! I loved Air - You know it actually inspired me to "imagine" myself as a writer. You already are an expert story teller and on your way to become an expert at searching for a publication solution.

    One day you'll get your 5000 (including me). Don't forget me then :-)

  4. Hey Barb, I absolutely agree that you can please everyone and you shouldn't even try because you'll end up pleasing no one. The first rule for me is to write what I think is great and see what happens. I take suggestions with a grain of salt and trust my instinct to guide me in the revision process. Things seems to work out that way.

    Emily, this goober group is getting bigger all the time! Love it!


  5. @aspiring_x that's what I used to do too. I was World's Humblest Author. Not anymore! :-D
    @Carol I'll do like you from now on, definitely!
    @Keshav I've done the final edit for Air, I'm in the talk with an illustrator, and you'll definitely see it sometime next year in its final version - thank you for reading it!
    @Jai I will definitely go back to that - I've wasted enough time trying to please everybody...
    @ Emily - thank you for letting me into this great club!
    Keep writing!

  6. Yeah; sometime you have to realize what YOU as the author, want to tell.

    I'm not one to ignore advice from fellow writers/readers, but I do weigh it with some of Barbs criteria. How many people did/didn't like it, why, what were the suggestions for improvement. And how will the changes impact the overall story. Sometimes beta readers get so involved in specific aspects of a story, they want the whole plot to change for that.

    Eeh, we're all human.

    I guess the best advice I can think of for not getting stuck on the revision treadmill is to know yourself, and know your story. Keep a good eye on the premise.

    Thanks for posting your Goober Barb. Very nice to meet you.


  7. Thanks for all your comments, everyone! Yeah, I think it's really hard for us to know which comments we'll take and which ones we won't. It's so easy for us to think the reader knows best. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.

    Thanks again to Barb for sharing this with us! :D

  8. Thanks to Donna AND Emily, sorry I'm late but I was out of town for the weekend... To the next Goober Writer! :-D


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