For those of you who are writers, do you ever wonder if you’re like one of those people you see on American Idol who is all pimped out by her parents, waiting for her turn in front of the judges? Ryan Seacrest interviews her and asks her why she thinks she is the next American Idol. She replies, “Because I’ve been singing my whole life, it’s all I know how to do and I’m good at it.” We then get a quick clip of the parents who gush about how talented their child is.
Now at this point, those who have watched season after season of the show know that she’s probably going to be horrible. Sure enough, she struts her stuff out there and proceeds to sing way off-key and is promptly ripped to shreds by Simon while Randy and Paula laugh into their coke cups.
Clearly that girl has been led to believe that she’s wonderful by her family and well-meaning friends. Who knows. I sincerely doubt performance anxiety makes someone sing that poorly come audition time.
But my point is, and I do have one, how do writers know whether they are “that” girl or Taylor Hicks or Carrie Underwood or Adam Lambert? If your voice is not mainstream sounding, how do you know if your singing or writing “style” is quirky but captivating or just plain bad? How would Stevie Nicks have fared on American Idol? I’m thinking she probably wouldn’t even have made it to Hollywood. Ditto with people like Macy Gray, Dave Matthews, Joe Cocker, Toni Childs, and Madonna, to name a few. Is it better to be a singer with perfect pitch, who can write and sing her own songs or to be a singer that people want to listen to? F Scott Fitzgerald or Stephenie Meyers?
At what point do you say, “hey, I don’t write the best prose you’ve ever seen but I can write a can’t-put-it-down story. Sure I head hop, put in tons of infodumps, use adverbs excessively, gratuitously, and abundantly, but is the story something you’d want to read enough to overlook those gaffes?” Or am I “that” girl who is looking for whatever excuse is handy to forgive the failure to make the grade. It’s this lack of objectivity that I am convinced makes all artists (which writers certainly are) just a little eccentric and odd at times. And really, can you blame them, us?