I’d like to stay on the author/talent show comparison for just a little while longer. I mean, the name of the blog is, “So you think you can WRITE,” right? And for this blog segment in particular, the word “think” is the operative word.
Let’s talk “American Idol” for a moment – a very short moment, I promise. For the first eight years we watched every single episode. (Please don’t ask me why or how. Just know we’ve stopped watching and are now leading more productive and happy lives.) What was most surprising throughout the years were the contestants who auditioned and were completely incapable of holding a note or staying on key.
Now I’m not talking about the people who wanted their fifteen minutes of fame or were obviously out of their minds. I’m talking about the contestants who really believed they could sing, yet were so off pitch and out of tune, we’d squirm in our chairs. You know who I’m talking about: the competitors who would stare at the judges in disbelief when they were told the truth about their lack of talent – their eyes filled with incredulity, helplessness and tears.
And why were they so incredulous? Because most of these naïve people, if not all, had been told by their friends and family that they were “wonderful,” an “amazing vocalist,” the next, “American Idol.”
Well guess what? They were getting advice from the wrong people.
My mother loves everything I’ve ever written. From the three-page “novels” I wrote in giant letters at the age of five to the book I just published in May, “One Last Lie,” she devours every word and has never had a negative comment regarding any of my work.
Is she my biggest fan? Yes. Can I depend on her to find a spelling error or grammatical mistake? Absolutely. But can I trust her opinion when submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher? Unfortunately, no. L
When I need honest judgment and unbiased reviews, I stay away from friends and family. I contact writers groups and do a little review-swapping; I enter contests (legitimate ones) and see how close to the Winner’s Circle I get; I pay editors to provide impartial comments and recommendations. I do whatever it takes not to fall into the trap of false adulation or unbiased opinions. Once I’ve gotten a sufficient amount of reviews and recommendations, I take those I think can elevate my work and revise the writing until the final critique is in – mine.
In the case of “One Last Lie,” it appears my mother was right. I’m getting amazing reviews (see for yourself: reviews) and heartfelt adulation from strangers… people I’ve never met and will probably never meet. And when it comes down to it, those are the individuals who will turn, “So You THINK You Can Write,” into, “So You KNOW You Can Write.”