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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I've been writing since 1978, and I'm still unpublished - how's that for a start?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.
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?