Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The American Idol Lesson

For nine years people have lined up to pour their hearts out to the judges and America. Even if I haven’t followed every season all the way through, I’ve at least watched the auditions. Most of the time I laugh at the poor deluded people who can’t carry a tune. However this year, as I sit on the phone, watching with my best friend, I felt sorry for many of the contestants. And it had me questioning how these people can be SO wrong about their talent. Which in turn led me to think about writing—see, all things go back to writing.

A lot of people on the show have their parents and friends with them and they all sing these people’s praises even when it’s clear the people have no talent. My advice to these people…GET MORE OPINIONS! It’ll save you lots and lots of pain.

My mother LOVES my writing, thinks I’m the greatest thing since the word was invented. She always wants a poem—even though I hate writing poetry. She thinks the first book I wrote was great and believe me, it wasn’t. And while my sister thinks I’m a great writer, she gives more constructive feed back than my mother. Still, imagine if I dipped my toe into the big bad world of publishing based on the fact that my mommy and my big sis think I’m great.

Not only that, but most of the people who get rejected on American Idol don’t want to hear it. They reject the rejection, let the criticism—which, admittedly, isn’t always constructive—bounce right off of them like a bullet ricocheting.

So what I was saying to my best friend is that, if I suck, please tell me! I know it’s a fine line between being honest and stomping on someone’s dream. So this is where we, as writers, have to open our ears and our minds and listen to what people are saying to us. It’s never fun to get criticized, to have someone tell you that what you’ve created isn’t perfection. But if you want to get better—for some, it’s just not in the cards—then you have to have someone tell you that you suck, tell you why you suck, and then YOU have to do something about it.

Don’t be like the American Idol rejects who stomp away in tears, cursing and saying the world will see you again and the judges are idiots. While some people are mean and don’t know what they’re talking about, most people who critique your work honestly want to help you. So listen to them!

And that is my American Idol lesson.

13 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

Excellent post - the same things crossed my mind as I watched.

I'm very grateful to have crit partners who are willing to critique honestly!

jessjordan said...

Nice comparison.

I typically can't stand to sit through too many of the first episodes--the great auditions are amazing, and I love seeing the raw talent, but they don't always make up for the camera hungry auditions I have to sit through to make it to them. :)

Nickles said...

This was an awesome post! I've had people give me honest opinions of my work and while it's not always pleasant at least I'm learning. And that's the great thing about writing, unlike singing, you can learn it and continue to get better.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great post! Without honest feedback, we are powerless to improve those things that can only be noticed by others. :-)

V. S said...

You speak the truth!!! I would rather know the truth then be told a lie--even if it hurts.

Karen Denise said...

See, this is why were are all awesome writers! We listen!

Anissa said...

So true! I had a similar thought tonight. You have to learn to listen, to hear the feedback that's being given no matter how difficult it may be. It's the only way to improve.

I don't watch a lot of Idol, but usually manage to catch a few of the early audition shows. Some amazing talent there. Though sometimes I just feel sad for the people who's dreams are shattered.

Falen said...

Very true. We all need honest, constructive, criticism. Otherwise we never grow. And who wants to be stagnant?

Natalie said...

Excellent comparison! I'm always annoyed by the contestants who say something like "They took my dream away." They didn't take your dream away. You just weren't good enough/ready. It's the same thing with agents and editors--they aren't taking our dreams away, WE just need to work harder if we want our dreams to become reality.

Karen Denise said...

Anissa--love that name--I feel sorry for them too and I worry about the REALLY devistated ones, because they seem like someone just told them they have 2 days to live.

Falen-Yes, we need the feedback to grow and we need to have the skill to pick through and see what feedback to take and which to let go.

So true, Natalie, we need to work hard for our dreams, otherwise we won't appreciate it.

That guy from last night, who had to have security called on him was a classic example of NOT listening. They were merely trying to tell him that he wasn't ready. But he put up that wall and wouldn't listen. Hopefully, he'll watch that with some people who have some sense and he will see his mistake.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I have totally thought the same thing when I watch Idol. I pray I'm not as clueless because really, I'm just soooo embarrassed for some of those people!

Diana Paz said...

Oh my gosh, you just voiced every writer's hugest fear as they watched American Idol! I mean, we all can't be awesome, can we? Okay, let's just say we're all awesome!!!!

I have an award on my blog for you today, I hope it makes you happy :)

Karen Denise said...

OHHH Diana, I'm on my way to go get it! Thanks!