18 Jan 2013

What Simon Cowell has taught me about writing

Okay, I confess (but don't tell anyone). I really like reality TV talent shows, particularly Britain's Got Talent and the X Factor. American Idol also has its moments. Over the last couple of years, I've been struck with the notion that there are equivalents between me and my writing and those would-be singers. Plugging away at my craft, facing the judgment of literary journals, agents, granting bodies and publishers, and dealing with the mostly rejections and occasion encouragement or minor success, I think I've learned from the successes and failures of the likes of Susan Boyle and Chris Maloney and the countless others whose names I have forgotten or never knew. Amid all the strutting and crooning and crying, I've gleaned a think or two. Here's my attempt at summarizing what Simon Cowell and his friends have taught me:

1 There are many reasons that people with talent don’t make it. These reasons might include:
·         Someone judging had a fight with their girlfriend/boyfriend/hairdresser
·         Someone judging is drunk or under the influence of narcotics
·         Someone, like a producer, gave bad advice
·         The person with talent chose the wrong song/genre/medium, etc.
·         The person with talent has the personality of a wet noodle.

2  There are many differences in opinion; don’t trust what any one person says, but if lots of people say the same thing, they are more likely to be right.

 Just because you think you have talent doesn’t mean you actually do. We can delude ourselves.

4 Just because you don’t think you have much talent, doesn’t mean you don’t. We can underestimate ourselves.

5 Sometimes you should listen to no, and sometimes you shouldn’t. (See 2,3, and 4 above.)

6 Young people are capable of a great deal, not just in terms of raw talent, but drive, dedication and maturity.

7  Humans like surprises, in art as well as in people.

 Everyone likes a good rags to riches story, but especially the rags part.

9 People considered strange in everyday life are often fascinating and attractive if put on a stage. Big personalities need distance to be most appreciated. NOTE: there is such a thing as being too weird (see below).

 10.   Talent in restraint with the occasional burst of brilliance is ideal. A wild streak is great, as long as it is just a streak and not a full immersion.

  11.   Humility is appealing. So is authenticity.

 12.   Hard work and determination are essential, but not enough on their own.
 13. There is a big difference between good and great.

1 comment:

Tanya said...

I think I'll go with number one instead of number three. Next time I get a rejection, I'll tell myself, "that editor was obviously drunk!"