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Friday, April 26, 2013

What's a Thousand Words Worth?

     My blog has been on hiatus while I participated in my first Nanowrimo Camp. Now that the camp is winding down, and it’s looking as though I will make the 50,000 word goal, I can get back to blogging regularly. An added bonus: I have a new novel to fine tune this summer. For any writers who haven’t tried out National November Writing Month, I highly recommend it. The event is not just in November anymore (which was always my excuse t' NOT to) Writing camps are scattered throughout the year, so chances are there will be one that fits your schedule. There’s no excuse. Do Nano.

Not that Nano. Trust me, the one sponsored by the Office of Letters and Light is way cooler. (Oh, if only we'd been spared the sight of Robin Williams' rise to fame!) So anyway, I’ve been thinking about that old cliché: A picture’s worth a thousand words, which got me thinking about Sarah Simmons from The Voice. (I know. ADHD much?)
     Here’s the tie-in. The Voice is a singing contest based on blind auditions, which shot it over Idol in terms of must-see TV for me. It also makes for a good parallel—at least in my pole-riddled mind—to writing and the query process. Ideally, the query process should boil down to just a literary agent or editor and your words. The big phone call is the equivalent of Usher or Shakira hitting the red button and making their ridiculously large chair rotate quicker than you can say anticlimax.
     Except….for us there’s no audience for first attempts. We get no applause, no gasp of wonder—not even when a polished draft is read. None that we can hear, anyway. I send my drafts to critique partners, who type out comments and email me back. Everything is delayed, all emotions diluted by time gaps and distance. It’s positive reinforcement, but it sometimes seems more like a homework session.
 That’s why I’m so jealous of Sarah Simmons. I’d probably body-slam her if she were in the room with me right now. And I would do serious damage (but I’d avoid her vocal cords, because that would be harsh). I think she’ll win The Voice, and that even if she doesn’t win she’ll get a record deal. Bummer! It’s not that she doesn’t deserve it. She totally does. What rankles about Sarah is that she gets to Wow everyone on her way up. Case in point:

I mean, seriously. Check out her dad. If my dad ever expressed even one millionth that amount of pride in me, I’d pack up writing, torch my laptop and die happy. He never will, because that's how he is, but also because my talent is pretty boring in comparison. Who could blame him for not being impressed? Very few people are wowed by bundles of notebook pages and/or computers displaying screen upon screen of unbroken text. Even someone that gets excited about writing is bound to run the other way when I pull out my notes and first drafts. I would run. It’s scary looking. In contrast, I could watch The Voice for hours.
     What fascinates me about that show is the behind-the-scenes glimpse it gives of the work those songsters-in-progress put into practice sessions. What once seemed effortless is revealed for what it really is: raw talent refined with old-fashioned hard work. It’s gratifying to see something like that. To be a part of it. All I know is that this duet sucked when they performed it for Adam Levine. And now look.

     No one wants to see a behind-the-scenes compilation of my rewrites. Nor will they want to stake a claim in a career that might not even happen. And there's no real proof that it will. If I were an artist, a sculptor, a Slam poet, a filmmaker—if I engaged in any other artistic pursuit, I’d have something tangible to show for it. So yeah, I’m going to whine a little. It’s unfair that our struggle is the exact same as that of the singers on The Voice, yet we don’t get to hear the applause or the swish of those chairs spinning round. One might argue that it’s because we’re not yet writers (in the professional sense). Then again, Sarah’s not a professional singer, either. Yet.
     Maybe I should take up sculpting.


  1. Congrats on winning camp NaNo! If you want to do a June one, my writing group always does it via Facebook (BuNoWriMo). I had a relatively unproductive month--between Blogging A to Z and prepping for a book release I feel creatively sapped. Back to it, though, eh?

  2. Good comparison. Hooray for a fellow Voice fan!

    Next time I'm struggling over editing, I'll try and remember I'm trying to shine for the right judge in the right mood.

    And congrats on winning Camp NaNo! Doesn't it feel awesome? Ready to try it with me in November?

  3. Thanks Jenny! I'm insanely proud of myself for those 50,000 words, especially after my epic fail in November. There is something to be said about peer pressure and charting progress. That is the single reason I kept it up! Maybe I can do Nov. We'll see!

  4. Hart, congratulations on your book release. The Begonia Bribe by Alyse Carlson--for any mystery-lover just stopping by, definitely check that one out! And Nano is why I couldn't do the A to Z thing. My poor blog always takes a backseat. Kudos to you for hitting every letter!