Lies for Fun and Profit: Barbara Barnett

What does a writer-librarian-musician do when she’s being assaulted by a colossal weather phenomena so ferocious only the name “Sandy” can contain it?  Obviously she thinks about her life and what she’s doing with it.  Then she lies to me.  Check it out below.

You do music and fiction. How do you balance them? Does one drain from the other?

I use the seesaw at the local playground to balance them. I put a pile of music on one end, my fiction manuscripts on the other. It’s tricky keeping them balanced like that, especially during inclement weather. And don’t even get me started on those pesky neighborhood kids whining about the crazy lady who monopolizes the seesaw. The little cretins clearly don’t appreciate the creative process.

And yes, there’s definitely a drain. Every time I sing a wrong note, I lose a vocabulary word. I get a lot of criticism for my creative dialogue tags—he exclaimed, pronounced, chortled, ejaculated, etc. Everybody wants me to use that common four-letter dialogue tag word beginning with S. But I lost my ability to use it performing an aria from La Traviata.

You’re a graduate of Odyssey. What role do you see the major workshops playing in the careers of aspiring writers?

Clearly, the role of major workshops is to teach you the secret handshake that gets you published in professional markets. It’s not easy to master. We spent the entire first week of Odyssey learning exercises that strengthen the hand muscles. Having large hands helps too. The only reason I don’t have more professional sales is because my hands are so tiny. And some people have seriously injured themselves performing the secret handshake. One guy’s hand snapped clean off at Worldcon last year. True story.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Two weekly services at the Church of the High Holy Squid. Apparently some people think we’re a cult. At least that’s what my family used to tell me before I was forced to cut off all contact with them.

Your writing covers a wide spectrum of genres and tone. What do you see as your “writerly brand” ?

I see my writerly brand as the black, charred outline of a chicken on my left shoulder. I’d show you a picture, but the burns haven’t quite healed. It’s not pretty. My critique group promised the branding iron wouldn’t hurt, but they totally lied.

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2 thoughts on “Lies for Fun and Profit: Barbara Barnett

    • The slide is great for editing, especially if you need to trim your word count. I put a novel manuscript on the top of a slide, pushed it down, and by the time it reached the bottom, enough pages had blown away that it was a flash story.

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