I am a singing tv competition junkie but I only stick around for the auditions – the “I WANT YOU” turn around chairs, the golden buzzers, those “you are moving onto the next round” proud moments. It is their body’s reaction that I love the most. Their eyes, their mouths, the way their hands cover their faces.
Something changes inside of these amazing singers when they are wanted, when they are good enough to move forward. They must feel as if all the hard work they have put into their voice has made the cut. Their confidence grows, their demeanor is different, they stand taller.
And then there are the achievements along the way – for the best of the best – the passing onto the elimination rounds, the semi-finals, winning IN the final, dropping their first album, winning a Grammy. Can’t you just imagine all the feels?
But for some, there are no turning chairs, golden buzzers, or “you are moving onto the next round” proud moments. This is the heart breaking side of these shows and we all get to watch it LIVE (or previously recorded) on television every single week.
Some contestants think they are really good because their Mom and best friend have been telling them they are for so long but they are just not that good. What about those people? Those poor, poor delusional people who think they had a chance? And then there are the ones whose singing voices do not stand out from the crowd. They are good, but not out of this world amazing.
So, the question for these contestants, the ones who don’t cut it, what comes next? Do they take their act to a smaller audience, a local bar or karaoke night, or even a county fair? Do they try another television show in hopes that those judges will see something in them that was not seen before? Do they practice, practice, and practice until they are ready to try again the next season? Or perhaps they choose to be happy, going home to their babies or houses of worship to sing (good or bad) for those that love them most.
This world of singing competitions is SO much like living the life of a writer.
I’ve got a middle grade manuscript of thousands and thousands of words, completed. Right now, I am trying out my act with my readers. Right now, I am researching where to “audition” because I have got to put my work out there to the agent that will say, “I WANT YOU” as they turn their chair, push that golden buzzer, and say those words, “You are moving onto the next round.”
And truthfully, I am scared. No, I mean really scared. Because as much as writers say that this thing, this writing life, is about the process, I want MY words, my finished product, to reach children and not just my own three. I want my words to reach many, many children, and parents, and teachers, and librarians, too. I want my book to be read and passed to a friend and to be book-talked the heck out of by a teacher who knows a student of theirs might grow from reading it.
And honestly, I want the achievements along the way – passing the test of an agent in the form of a “please send your full manuscript” e-mail, the “I’d like to represent you” and “the publisher wants your book” phone calls, and UPS dropping a box filled with copies of YOUR book on your doorstep! Can’t you just imagine all the feels?
The upside is this – unlike a singer trying out for the couple of big singing shows, we, writers have major good things on our side. WE are the lucky ones.
If we “try out” for years to get one labor of love out there with no success, we can move onto another piece of writing. There are other agents out there beyond the list we are making our way through right now and we can keep on going until we find the right one. AND, we can keep on learning. Lucky for us, we can refine our practice and write more and read more and grow exponentially so that when we look back on our “song choices” from the first “auditions” we can laugh and remind ourselves that “back then” we had so much to learn.
Keep at it, friends. Don’t give up. There’s always another song choice, always another forum for auditioning, and always, always there is more learning to be had.