Hasn’t this been a beautiful autumn? It has been here along the Front Range of Colorado. Well, except for the flood that hit Boulder County (where I live) back in September. Thankfully, our property was spared, but I know so many who have lost much, if not everything, in what folks are calling the 1000 year flood. Please keep these folks in your prayers.
What does this have to do with my topic? Well, if it wasn’t for the flood, my vacation would not have been postponed – a couple of times. I finally got to take a week off in the middle of October, and enjoyed the most beautiful weather I could have ever asked for. Which then allowed me to spend a few days down in southern Colorado where there’s no Internet, no cable, no coffee shops.
It was glorious. Try it sometime. Go no technology and you may never want to go back, LOL!
At the house, we did have network stations on the television. Now, for those of you who have fully scheduled days and fill in the down moments with writing, you know watching television is really low on the priority list. We flicked on the TV and started watching The Voice for lack of anything else to do.
I don’t watch American Idol or The X Factor, or other talent shows framed within the concept of a panel of judges determining the fate of hopeful talent as they lay their souls on the line for the approval of a few. If I had been a contestant, Simon Cowell’s rude harshness would have scarred me for life.
This was the first time I’d watched The Voice and by the end of the program, I realized the show, in perception, reflected the hopes and dreams of authors everywhere. It is a desperately needed role model for the encouragement of authors, published and unpublished.
The Voice is different. This is a popular show so I’m positive many of you have followed it over the past few of seasons. If you have, GOOD FOR YOU! I hope to see your comments throughout the day : ) Let’s highlight a couple of my observations that reflect closely what we go through in the publishing industry in order to produce a saleable book:
Practice and compete in contests
The Voice: The contestants who make it through the auditions have honed their talents and competed in various venues until their style and presence shines. They move to an audition where they sing and the coaches listen to the performance with their backs turned to the singer. There are so many contestants, you know only those voices with something special can tempt the coaches to turn their chairs around to indicate their interest.
Publishing: We’ve entered contests and received feedback from judges we either agree or disagree with. I entered countless contests before getting published and learned over the years to recognize whether the feedback I received was viable or not. Did the judge see my vision for the story? Recognize my voice? Did they give me a critique I could work with or just tell me (in thinly veiled comments of harshness dressed as encouragement) maybe I should find another dream to pursue? During this phase, the writer must learn to distinguish what kind of feedback is helpful to them, what will encourage their talent to shine and thus help them begin to final and win contests, and attract the attention of those editors and agents they’d like to work with.
Critique and encourage
The Voice: Once contestants have been chosen, they compete in pairs in elimination rounds. The coach pairs up styles and voices they think will complement the contestants’ talents. Both singers work as a duet showcasing their strengths. At the end of the performance, the other coaches give their input while the contestants stand on stage – all of it framed as positive feedback – and the original coach of the duo must choose which singer won the duet competition based on their performance to remain on his/her team. But wait, it gets better. If the singer who is not chosen by the coach sparks the interest of another coach, that coach then has the opportunity to steal that contestant for their team.
Publishing: The author has finalled or won contests, and the final round editor indicates they would like to see a partial. First three chapters and a synopsis. We’ve been preparing for this moment and know we’re ready. We spit shine our work until it glows. We print off our pages, check…double check…triple check it’s the best we can do, and slip it in the priority mail envelope and send it off to the agent or editor who has sparked our hopes with the simple words, “Send me a partial.” And then we return to our computers and continue working on projects because to sit on our hands while we wait is just plain silly. We’ve got to keep writing, keep learning, keep submitting.
Mentoring and coaching
The Voice: Now the singer has been chosen by their coach or stolen by another coach on the panel. In the next elimination round, the contestants are once again paired by their coach to compete against each other, only this time the contestant chooses the song they feel showcases their style and talent. They sing for their coach. Their coach gives them feedback – they discuss why the song works, how it can work better, how the contestant needs to tweak it. Or change it. They leave the ultimate decision to the contestant, but the same process of elimination applies to this round as it did the last – the other coaches get to leave comments, but the final decision whether you stay in the game or not, belongs to your coach. Do you get chosen or not? Guess it depends on the final product you’ve presented and whether you’ve taken into consideration the suggestions made to improve your work. If your coach likes your final product, he/she selects you. If not, you may get stolen by another coach to join their team, or you walk away the wiser for the experience and hopefully, no regrets.
Publishing: Having sent in our partial, we’ve sparked the interest of an editor who contacts us and requests a full manuscript. Oh Happy Day!! So, this part can work a number of ways:
• The editor/agent (E/A) sends a form letter informing you the submission isn’t right for them, good luck in the future.
• OR, the E/A calls and tells you they’d like to buy your manuscript and welcome you to the family.
• OR, you receive a letter or email telling you the story isn’t quite right. If you’d like to make the following revisions, the E/A would like to review the ms again.
After you are finished rereading that note a hundred times, you wonder what it means to you. Just so there’s no misunderstanding, the choice is up to you. Do you make the changes suggested or think your book is great the way it is and you’ll make changes when someone is willing to pay for them?
Let me tell you, much like The Voice where the coaches are only trying to make your talent better with their suggestions and comments, if the E/A takes the time to send you a rejection with revision suggestions, THEY ARE NOT JUST BEING NICE. E/As have a lot on their plates. If they take the time to specifically tell you what they’d like changed in your manuscript, please realize they see potential in you!
These are only a few gems I’ve picked up and ruminated over since discovering this wonderful show. Have I mentioned the coaches on The Voice are all nice and respectful, keeping the dignity of the competition on higher ground? Public humiliation is not something I crave, nor do I believe it makes the hopeful contestants into better people. Much like Adam, Christina, Cee Lo and Blake (oh be still my heart, Blake Shelton!!) demonstrate, encouragement brings out the potential in everyone.
Yes, I’ve now carved out time to watch The Voice. I’m interested in seeing how the season ends. I’m not certain what determines the outcome, so maybe you can enlighten me : )
|Writing With Emotion, Tension and Conflict|
Also, remember November is NANOWRIMO month! The prize for the day is a copy of Cheryl St. John's new how-to book, Writing With Emotion, Tension and Conflict. If you've ever taken one of Cheryl's classes, you'll know Cheryl is the epitomy of encouragment...even as she teaches conflict, LOL! Winner will be announced this weekend in the WE.