Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reality Show Overload

Our national networks have made it possible for us to watch reality programming every night! There was even a minor squabble a few weeks ago when Idol went a few minutes past the hour, thus stepping on the opening of that week's Dancing with the Stars.

It may be that these two are the most popular, and they are polar opposites. In one show you have absolute unknowns with an amazing amount of talent. In the other you have relatively well-known stars with absolutely no talent for the task at hand. I'm not sure which is more frightening.

You have to admire those people who audition for Idol. When will they get that it isn't enough for Grandma to think you're a great singer? If Simon Cowell doesn't buy it, you're going to be humiliated. But they line up for a shot at the show by the hundreds of thousands. The celebrity dancers are equally gutsy. They stand to make complete fools of themselves if they don't have the least bit of rhythm. Celebrities are usually attention-grabbers, though. They will do almost anything as long as everyone talks about it afterward.

How does this relate to writing? Let me count the ways. Too numerous to mention are the times some tearful woman has shoved a dog-eared manuscript into my hands begging me to read it because she got rejected again, but her mother says it's the best book she ever read. Of course she said that. She's your mother. It's in the contract she signs at your birth. If you want to know what's wrong with your book, listen to the words of those rejecting you. They usually will point out one or two things that could make a huge difference.

The best piece of advice I ever received about writing came from a woman teaching a creative writing class. She said, "The only opinion you should pay attention to is that of someone who's in a position to sign a check to you."

True that. Is your mother editor-in-chief at Harlequin? No? I didn't think so.

But still you'll see those people coming out of the Idol audition room, fat tears coursing down their cheeks. "I don't care what they say! I know I can sing. They'll be sorry."

My cat sounds better than that when I accidentally role my office chair over her tail.

Still, you have to admire the spirit. Don't give up. Follow your dream. Just don't expect Simon to vote for you.

Have a wonderful day.

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