Writing is Like American Idol Because…

Go ahead, tell me. How is your writing and publishing journey like “American Idol”? Let’s beat this metaphor to death once and for all. Knock yourself out… you can include “Britain’s Got Talent” if you want, too.

Bonus points if you can tell me how the writing and publishing journey is like “Lost” or “Grey’s Anatomy.” (Now you know all three of my favorite shows.)

Oh, by the way: This is a CONTEST!

→ 150 words max.
→ Submit your entry in the comments to THIS post.
→ Deadline is tomorrow, Saturday May 2, at 11:59pm ET.
→ WordServe clients can enter but are not eligible for the prize.
→ I will choose my favorites and you will vote for the winner.
→ Winner can choose an evaluation of twenty pages of their work (courtesy of moi), or a $20 Amazon gift card.

Have a great weekend!

Rachelle Gardner, Christian literary agent, WordServe Literary Group, Colorado.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Anonymous on May 6, 2009 at 7:50 PM

    >Twiigs do not give IP addresses, you liar.

    You just decided to ignore all the VALID votes for Aaron in order to favour your pal. Shame on you, this contest was a scam and a sham from the start.


  2. quackingalone on May 3, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    >Too late to submit because I didn’t read this until Sunday. But I like Idol too and I’ve long thought Grey’s is a great exercise for writers. How would you have re-written some of those pivotal points? Like the end of the season episode where McDreamy and McVet were each calling to Mer with their hands extended? How about the one in the lobby way back when Mer first met Addison?

    I work Grey’s into my blog fairly frequently……. Had to do one on that McDreamy proposal.

    Nice to know I have something in common with Ms. Gardner!

  3. susanb on May 3, 2009 at 1:09 AM

    >The next idol show?

    The nervous writer begins to read his manuscript. These words are his life’s blood, his reason for getting up in the morning, his hopes and his dreams.
    “Oh, stop please!” yells the arrogant male. “Oh, this is unique.”
    “Thank you.”
    The dark, haughty one chuckles. “That wasn’t a compliment. Tell me, did someone, at some time in your life, tell you that you could write?”
    “There were some areas of the book where dangling participles were a problem,” admits the female author. “And the characters, at times, seemed to be lacking in motivation.”
    “And personality,” adds the arrogant one.
    All eyes turn to the final judge. “Well dude,” he begins. “You’ve got it goin’ on. You have a storyline and some interesting characters. With a little tightening up of the narrative and some character development you could bring this thing around.

  4. Robin Archibald on May 2, 2009 at 10:56 PM

    >149 words:

    When I heard Susan Boyle sing, I recalled Eric Liddell’s words: “I believe God made me for a purpose. When I run, I feel his pleasure” (Chariots of Fire). As Susan’s voice began to entrance me and everyone else, I think God was smiling, too.

    There’s just something about singing beautifully (or running fast) that seems to touch God’s joy. But the singers on American Idol who delight us with their voices go through a process to develop their craft—a process that starts with a gift and is developed by infinite repetition.

    We writers start with a gift and develop it with infinite repetition. We revise and revise and hope that the words we’ve labored to put together in just this way will captivate our readers in an experience that is as entrancing and delightful as a beautiful song. And we hope our words reach for God’s joy.

  5. Linda on May 2, 2009 at 10:25 PM

    >Idol judges watch person after person sing, easily telling which ones had mamas lie to them. Weary – wanting the day to end, the next potential idol begins. Wow! They perk up. Eyes open wide. This one’s going to Hollywood.
    An editor skims first page after first page, then finally has a catching story line. Impressed – she wants to read more. Finally some potential.
    In Hollywood, the work begins for American Idol “want-a-bes”. Practice. Practice. Practice. Confidence builds. Belief in oneself. Stage presence comes.
    That’s me! I write and write – improving, polishing, building confidence. I believe in myself.
    The postman comes. Rejection. Tomorrow, another rejection. I have to believe in myself like the Grey’s Anatomy surgeons who have patient after patient die, yet must keep operating to save one. I must keep writing if I’m going to sell a book.

  6. S. Leigh on May 2, 2009 at 9:58 PM

    >The sequined gown sparkles as I Shimmy into it.
    My hair rests upon my shoulders,
    I am pretty and soft.

    My parents smile and nod.
    Each week I have produced a new story, chapter, poem;
    They fluoresce with pride.

    My friend drives me to the studio
    And says, “You have such talent!”
    As she pushes me out of the car.

    It’s time for my reading.
    I walk onto stage.
    I begin.

    The crowd jeers.
    They hurl clothing, shoes, hats at me.
    “Hey! Get off the stage!”
    “Get yourself an editor!”

    My first three chapters fall to the floor.
    I run off stage catching a reflection
    Of my naked body.


    I wake up to the ringing cell phone.
    “Hi, it’s Rachelle. We need to
    Make some changes to the manuscript.”

    Whatever you say.
    I can work on it right away.”

  7. sarah on May 2, 2009 at 9:06 PM

    >I love to write. I write from my heart. I write with passion. I feel the pain, the joy, the sadness, the hopes and the fears of the characters I create. I write for me.
    I write to have my voice. Recently I realized, I have something to say that can impact others and make a difference in their lives. Maybe what I write can change the reader in deep profound ways and motivate them to fulfill a dream, a passion of their own. It’s no different than those hopefuls trying out on American Idol. They love to sing and perform. They believe they’re good enough to be picked as the ‘best.’ Some of them make a fool of themselves and get thrown out, but they’re having fun. They took a risk. I’m taking a risk exposing my writing to the world. If rejected? We’ll keep singing, keep writing.

  8. Anonymous on May 2, 2009 at 7:21 PM

    >You must have Tivo or a similar device since “Lost” and “American Idol” opposed each other on Wednesdays.

    Lucky you1

  9. Anonymous on May 2, 2009 at 5:34 PM

    >Well, my family doesn’t have a TV, so I don’t know a lot about the shows you’ve mentioned. Here’s my attempt though…

    American Idol-
    To me there are several parallels between American Idol and the writing world. You start out working hard on your craft. Slowly you get to the point where you have hope of being noticed. You audition, or send out your proposal. No takers. A lot of hard work later, you try again.
    This time you’re in. If you’re singing, you just got a chance at the show. In writing, you just got an agent. Finally the day comes when you (or your manuscript) go before the judges, who are also known as editors.
    After that you’re at the point where your book has been published. But it’s still up to the public whether you pass or fail.

    Grey’s Anatomy-
    All the frustrations, the terrible moments that you can’t stop from happening, the times you want to give up and find something easier to do, it’s all made worth it when there’s that one time. The rare moment when everything goes right. The extraordinary point in time where you make a difference, that gives you hope for the future. Brief as those times may be, they are times worth living for.

    Thanks for holding this contest,



  10. Anonymous on May 2, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    >Eric from Alabama:

    “Ryan Seacrest here and I’m backstage with Eric after he was given four absolute no’s from our cast of judges.”
    Eric glared at the camera.
    “What’s your reaction to their decision?”
    “They’re missin’ out on a diamond in the rough.”
    “Diamond in the buff is more like it. Did you get your costume from the half-off store?”
    “Simon did say my writing was cheap, didn’t he? I think he referred to it as caberet.”
    “I believe cruise ship…ish were his words. He said your sentence structure was as unpredictable as the waves of the sea.”
    “So. What’s he supposed to be…an expert or something? I’m ou–“
    “That’s my line.” Ryan winked at the camera. “Seacrest out.”
    “You wait. The next time you see me I’ll be signing copies of my bestseller at Barnes and Noble.”
    Ryans eyes did a three-sixty. “Okay,” he mouthed, “back to the auditions.”

  11. Jody Hedlund on May 2, 2009 at 4:45 PM

    >Which aspiring novel deserves the title of American Best Seller?

    You decide, America! Call now and cast your vote.

    Book #1: Vampire Aliens Invade the USA (Simon said this one literally sucks)

    Book #2: How I Killed my Family and Didn’t Go to Prison

    Book #3: I Lost 100 Pounds in 1 Day and So Can You (Randy thinks this is rockin’)

    Book #4: Little Princess on the Prairie (Paula’s personal favorite)

    Book #5: Be Ready: Jesus is Returning on St. Patrick’s Day

    It’s up to you America to decide. Don’t let the judges sway your votes. Go with what you feel. Make sure you ignore bad dialog, terrible plot, and shallow characters. In fact, don’t worry about author talent at all. It’s whatever jives most with you. That’s the American way!

    So call now! Your votes, no matter how fickle, will decide the next American Best Seller!

  12. Mark H. on May 2, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    >Like a passenger climbing on Oceanic Flight 815, the journey starts peacefully. We’re cruising along, putting words to paper like nobody’s business. Yup, a whole chapter.

    Then, the crash. The realization that this is a ton of work. We don’t know if we can last long enough to survive. We scratch out a living (or novel) using whatever scraps and spare parts we can find.

    But this is no ordinary island. There are rules. Whether it’s “show, don’t tell” or pushing the right button, you’re bound to hear about it every 108 minutes. People who break them are banished, except for a few who are celebrated and granted leadership positions, like John Locke. Agents and publishers live in an uneasy truce, like Dharma and the Others, and we don’t understand them or fit in. Eventually, we are accepted…but then we have to turn back time, and start over again. Sigh…revisions…

  13. Megan on May 2, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    >Confusion was survival of a crash landing. It seemed almost too easy in the beginning. Then we faced impossible conflicts: polar bears, strangers in hot air balloons, chasings by smoky cyclones of past regrets and fears. We didn’t understand what it meant. It happened too fast, too sudden, we lost control. We played the numbers game, tempted fate, questioned our purpose, banging our fists until the light came on.

    Doubt caged us – stalling us, mocking us. Which was worse: the waiting, or the endless fight for survival? We struggled with giving up, sacrificing everything. We were broken from hiding under half-truths, destroying us until we knew the only way out was to get back to the beginning. We prepared for another crash. Will we erase it all, start over? Or forge ahead, strangling the story to the last breath until it resurrects itself? Will we make meaning of it yet?

  14. Necrovis on May 2, 2009 at 3:14 PM

    >American Idol is like writing because it’s all about me.

    I sing and I sing, and all I see is the white-washed basement wall. I write and I write, and all that blinks back at me is the cursor. So I do it for me.

    I squeeze out whatever I can from my throat. I write and delete, write and delete.

    I stand on that stage, and within seconds want to run away, back, out. But my voice is heard. I hand in my manuscript, and immediately want to burn it to ashes. But my words are read.

    I don’t do it for them, I do it for me. Because it’s my voice, my writing. Because I’ve had that taste of the crowd, of being heard. I care that they read my words.

    The judges cut me down, the audience boos, and I’m kicked ruthlessly out.

    And I’ll go back.

  15. Aaron on May 2, 2009 at 2:41 PM

    >Smiling confidently, you stand before the judges, as an amazing talent finally discovered. People have said they admired your work and that you could make a living at this. You unveil upon them your gift.

    Their apathy and dissatisfaction pierce your heart as your eyes blur with tears. Are they blind? How can they not see your talent? You are so not like the delusional others who are just copycat writers. You are different. You can do this. You must do this. This is your life.

    The final judge takes a deep breath and leans forward. You can’t breathe. Maybe he will give you some validation. Besides, his vote is the most important. If he likes you, then you’re in.

    “Forgettable,” he says with a snide accent, “utterly forgettable.”

    He hands back your manuscript and recommends a total re-write. “We are looking for the next Robert Jordan, not Jordin Sparks.”

  16. Bonnie Latino on May 2, 2009 at 1:58 PM

    >As I blew out an exasperated sigh, my bangs fluttered on air. “Sometimes I feel like my manuscript is Taylor Hicks.”

    My husband rolled his eyes. “And all literary agents are like Simon Cowell looking for the next Daughtry, right?”

    Nodding, I laughed.

    “American Idol” wannabes hope to capture the judges’ attention, just like writers pray their query will captivate the right agent. With easy access to computers, it seems as if everyone believes they’ve written a bestseller.

    “Yo, dawg! You may have done exactly that, but can you get it published?”

    Successful manuscripts, like Carrie Underwood, are more than attractively packaged and marketable. They possess a unique voice, originality, flawless technical skills – and blind luck. Triumphant artists refuse to be defeated by rejection. They have unstoppable passion and self-confidence. Humility is a plus.

    Like Adam, Allison, Danny, and Kris, I will not quit until I succeed.

    “Latino — out!”

  17. Kelly Drost on May 2, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    >First we crashed: we wrote a eulogy to Fido, a love poem, an essay that got us a gold star. There was no escape.
    Our only tool was determination. We gathered food, built shelter and tamed the jungle: we took classes, bought computers and finished manuscripts.
    We were happy.
    Then we realized that Others stood between us and the true power of the island. (Agents and Editors… Oh my!)
    We made contact. We negotiated. Some of us begged. At times it was unclear whether they were friend or enemy. (Agentfail anyone?)
    After a long fight, we gave up, we escaped.
    We tried to live a normal life again, but there was always some glowing light coming out of some stupid hatch. There was always a crazy white haired lady in the back of our heads. Her deep eyes are spinning spirals. She’s whispering, “It’s your destiny…”
    There’s no escape.

  18. Melinda Walker on May 2, 2009 at 1:29 PM

    >Conferences are the writer’s audition. I’ve waited for an appointment, my mouth bone-dry, hands sweating and shaking. The judge glances at my one sheet. Her face hardens. “I don’t take unagented submissions. And your story does not have enough conflict.” Crashed and burned on the first attempt. Finally, a judge’s eyes lit up as I pitched. My nervousness disappeared, and my words flowed. I get the nod! I submitted the performance/proposal via USPS. The judge’s comments in the SASE: If you revise, you may submit the full. I re-worked and polished for my second chance at the preliminary round. The judge’s evaluation: Your writing is not strong enough to break in.
    But next season, I’ll make it to the final round.

    Preparation for the publishing journey parallels the high professionalism of the Grey’s Anatomy docs. They study, hone their skills, receive mentoring, and then they are paid for their work.

  19. The Frustrated Writer on May 2, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    >“I’m an artist in need of a stage! The world will recognize my talent, my uniqueness, my… damnit. I can’t do this!”

    I feel pukey.

    Agent X wants me to see my work first? Oh, my completed work… yes, that. Well, I have something better. What would you like to see? Paranormal this week? I can do that. Historical next week? I got that.

    I should submit to a critique group? And be judged in front of all those people? Not today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have it – that spark. Maybe tomorrow I can get some work done when the kitchen is clean and the husband is off on a business trip.

    You didn’t like my writing? What is wrong with you? That’s your opinion.

    No golden ticket?

    I’ll be back next year. You didn’t see my talent. You don’t know me. I’m gonna be a star!

  20. Kevin on May 2, 2009 at 9:44 AM

    >Writing is like American Idol in that the winner is not the person left standing beneath the falling confetti with a contract waiting backstage, but the people, who after enduring harsh criticism and dismissal, return to their love. They may be bruised, but they’re never broken, because in the end it wasn’t about the bright lights and big money. It was about a story that had to be told.

    Unfortunately I don’t watch Lost or Grey’s, so next time can we compare writing to Iron Chef America?

  21. Chris Kaiser on May 2, 2009 at 9:36 AM

    >Writing is like American Idol because we have panels of judges sitting outside of ourselves ready to pounce on our every weakness. But that is not where the similarities end. We also have judges crouching within our very bone marrow, ever ready to pounce on our cleverness and denounce our right to proclaim the creative. We cower from the inner Cowell, abdicate creative freedom in deference to our inner Abdul, and we kill off randy ideas with unlaughable sorrow just to please the merciless judges caged within our cortex, housed within our hearts, and lodged within our ligaments like bulbous tumors. But within each of us is a bit of Susan Boyle, ready to confound the critics, prove them wrong and propel us, at least, to a stage of comfort where we can peacefully exist alongside our own work…for the mere reason that it is…our own work.


  22. hippokrene on May 2, 2009 at 8:48 AM

    >Writing and publishing are like American Idol in that I am clueless about both.

    PS: I know nothing about Britain’s Got Talent, Lost, or Grey’s Anatomy either. I’m five for five.

  23. Dr. David and Lisa Frisbie on May 2, 2009 at 7:20 AM

    >Writing is like American Idol because you put it all out there, every time, holding nothing back.

    You give it everything, with your family and friends cheering in the background. A panel of judges, each one of whom has groceries laid up for the next twenty years, considers your work and then knocks you for song selection, hairstyle or wardrobe. Did anyone miss the point?

    Rachelle is like Paula, talented but affirming. She can tell you the truth, but she’s on your side.

    Writing is like American Idol because the outcome is random. Sing anyway; you were born to do it.

  24. Jessica on May 2, 2009 at 6:31 AM

    >Wow, people have tons of good posts here. I can’t wait to see who the contest finalists are!

  25. Anonymous on May 2, 2009 at 12:43 AM

    >My writing journey is like American Idol.

    No matter how good I am, the judges will look past me for the writer who will sell the most the fastest.

    To a mindless audience.

  26. Careann on May 2, 2009 at 12:07 AM

    >A comparison?

    Everything is dredged from within me and delivered to the public stage wrapped in the originality that is mine. I make it visible to the world knowing it will be spread eagled for scrutiny. No matter how it is judged it will always be mine so I offer it without apology and await the decision.

  27. Dee Yoder on May 1, 2009 at 11:56 PM

    >I am onstage and my knees are trembling. Out there are faceless thousands who can’t wait to knock me off stage with their jeering, or send me soaring with their applause. And I’m loving my moment in the spotlight…until, I look down and see that I am dressed as the MC in my novel: long, black skirt, white apron to my knees, and kapp upon my slicked back hair. Huh? How did this happen? How did I become…AMISH? Oh nooooo! I open my mouth to explain, and nothing comes forth but Pennsylvania-Dutch. I can’t believe it! My only chance to solo and I can’t speak English anymore! It has happened; just when I least expect it, I have become one with my book. And like many other AI hopefuls who crash and burn at the worst moment, I, too, slink off stage in defeat. But next time…next time, I’ll SHINE!

  28. Michelle on May 1, 2009 at 11:41 PM

    >You know when Katie Bryce accuses Meredith of being lost in the underbelly of the hospital? Writing is a lot like that… going around in circles, sometimes feeling lost, and sometimes getting called out on it.

    Remember that look of wonder (and achievement) after Mer scrubbed in on Katie Bryce’s surgery? And then Derek’s sexy head shake as he looks on at Meredith? That’s the feeling when you finally get it right.

    The thing with writing is that age-old cliche “never judge a book by its cover”. As writers (assuming we’re good) we’re all a Susan Boyle. We step out onto a stage, when we’re more comfortable writing (singing) in the comfort of our office (neighborhood bar) and then we belt out the words. We know they’re good. We believe they’re good. And it takes getting past the agents, editors, spam filters, queries etc. to earn a chance to showcaes our voice.

    The thing is, as writers, our queries are our cover. They’re our looks, our first impression. Even though we don’t like the rejection, we have to step up to the stage time and time again, and hope that the person reading our query isn’t Simon Cowell.

    Now, back to Grey’s… Remember when Derek and Meredith have sex in the exam room during prom?? That’s like sending out multiple submissions… it feels SO right at the time but can have some negative consequences. In the end, when the story gets published… it’s like an elevator love letter proposal!

  29. Mr. Norman Whiskers on May 1, 2009 at 11:37 PM

    >Ever since I was rescued by my Lady I have been sneaking off to her “office,” a laptop on a folding table next to a mismatched pile of socks and the mechanical monster who feeds on them, to type my cat history. As a kitten I dreamed of becoming a famous writer, innocent to the struggles and obstacles that one faces as an adult attempting to realize that goal. At this point in my life, I’ll even settle for prestige as a famous writer’s cat. Alas! I type alone in the darkness, one CAT in a huge sea of bloggers. If I could have one chance to shine before a judge, I would not blow it like that human William Hung. I would recite my prose in a perfectly clear New York accent. Simon would be stunned. Paula would kiss me and feed me sardines. Dreams do come true.

  30. Angelina C. Hansen on May 1, 2009 at 11:33 PM

    >Writing is like American Idol because singers, like writers, believe they have amazing talent. American Idol auditions attract people whose families and friends have convinced them they’re great. Sound familiar writers?

    How about criticism? What happens when Idol hopefuls hear they’re not good enough? Expletives fly, spirits fall, arguments break out. Someone might even get a drink thrown in their face! Sound familiar agents?

    Make it through the slush pile and arrive in Hollywood–a request for a partial. But sometimes the promise shown early on, in the first pages, fades away. Rejection.

    Making it to the top twenty-four is like hooking an agent. Top ten? Selling the book. To become the next American Idol is to hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Balloons and confetti!

    The advantage of being a writer is this: You don’t have to participate in a ridiculous Brady Bunch song and dance. Thank Goodness!

  31. Anonymous on May 1, 2009 at 10:29 PM

    >Writers of all ages and backgrounds share the same hopes and dreams of success: All have different stories to tell, each has a unique voice and varying degrees of talent and experience.

    While each story may have merit, not all will achieve that elusive dream–validation that you have what it takes to succeed. Yet each journey must begin with hope and optimism that you are one of the chosen few to win.

  32. JenE on May 1, 2009 at 10:03 PM

    >Publishing? What publishing? Like those poor screechy voiced contestants with no clue how to really entertain, I find my publishing journey stopped short at the door. I can’t even string together a few chapters I’m happy with because I know they have to be perfect to make it past the preliminaries. To get to the publishing part of this journey feels like I’m standing at the back of the American Idol audition line, debating whether or not I should even be there, and hoping they don’t quit for the day before I get my turn. Maybe by the time I get to the front of the line I will have a decent audition prepared and a query an agent won’t shoot down as cruelly as Simon does. In the meantime, I find that writing is often as frustrating as explaining the history of Lost to someone who’s never seen it.

  33. Jessica on May 1, 2009 at 9:19 PM

    >Wow, I feel disadvantaged. LOL I’ve never watched any of these shows. I’ve heard of them though, so I gotta try to play this game. 🙂

    Once upon a time, a girl had a dream.

    The dream flourished within the garden of her mind, fertilized by imagination until it sprouted from the soil, shooting emerald leaves toward the sun.
    She wrote the dream, rewrote it in a new way, polished and practiced. Cried and laughed. One day, the dream flowered.
    Like American Idol, the girl hoped the fickle audience and subjective judges would feel the strength and power of her dream. Would believe in it.
    Like Lost, the girl pursued the dream, desiring to uncover its secret world.
    Like Grey’s Anatomy, the girl nurtured passion for a dream that might die.

    Once upon a time, a girl had a dream.

  34. Krista Phillips on May 1, 2009 at 9:01 PM

    >*side note from the awesome American Idol/GreyA/Lost comparisons*

    LOVE the new blog design:-) Very cozy and inviting!!

  35. Mrs.Trujillo on May 1, 2009 at 8:32 PM

    >How is writing like American Idol? What an excellent question. So far, for me, it’s been more like the American Idol audition process. You know the well dressed person that walks in front of the judges with their head held high and more confidence than anyone else. And why are they like that? Because their friends told them they were good. We all laugh and think, “Some friends.” Well, here I am deep into the query process thanks to encouragement from my “friends” and getting nowhere. Why do they say it’s good if it’s not? Why do they tell them they can sing when they can’t? I have no idea. But hopefully, like that contestant that just keeps coming back, I’ll make the finals. I’ll win the prize. I AM the next American Idol. (In my head anyway.)

  36. Kathy on May 1, 2009 at 8:00 PM

    >I was actually on American Idol two seasons ago. It was a brief flash on the national television scene as I stood with my daughter awaiting her second audition. And so, I think I can safely say writing is like American Idol because having talent is only part of the key. You also need a great story.

  37. aym on May 1, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    >I am so nervous it’s painful. Must be painful to even watch me.

    When you dream of one thing your whole life and then by the grace of God you actually get a shot, well, it can be scary. Each moment of confidence is followed by wanting to slink away before everyone finds out I suck.

    My competition. Everyone seems brighter and shinier than me. I cheer them on, yet I know that every “dark-and-stormy-night-dream-sequence-infodump” will make me look like Tolstoy in comparison. So I want them to be good. But not too good.

    And now I am going to put myself out there to be critiqued and judged. This is the big league and no one will spare your feelings here.

    Deep breath and give ‘em all you’ve got.

  38. Caroline on May 1, 2009 at 6:35 PM

    >Ah, the journey to a published book or to singing glory. Well, the first step you have to do is get encouraged to even try out for the show, which isn’t too hard. You have to be able to sing(write) first, of course, and some people should probably like it, though that’s not required.

    So you’ve decided you’re going to try out for American Idol (write a novel). You spend countless weeks, months, or years picking the perfect song (writing an awesome book) and memorizing and perfecting your singing of it (editing!!!). Now it’s time to meet your first judges.

    You stand, hands sweating, in a crowd of hopefuls (the agent’s inbox), and wait for your 3-4 minute chance. Now it’s time, and you sing your heart out (your query). The judges (agents) look on with harsh eyes… and probably reject you.

    BUT… if you’re lucky enough to get a request, you get to go through the process with your actual song (book) instead of the audition song (query), and sing (present your book) in front of a whole lot more judges and Idol fans (readers, publishers, etc.)

    The good news is, if you make a decent impression while you’re going through the process you gain fans (networking, anyone?), and you might have a chance when you make an album (write the second book) after you lose (fail to publish the first book).

    It’s not so bad, is it?

  39. Kay Day on May 1, 2009 at 5:17 PM

    >I stand before the crowd, waiting to show them my guts. Hope clings to the shredded fringes of my emotions. If they don’t approve, I will be sent to the Others. The Others have no talent. I will be marked forever.
    If I’m allowed to stay, I will be accepted, finally, and loved. Because all we really want is to have someone love us, truly, deeply, and eternally, even after they’ve seen our guts.

  40. Matilda McCloud on May 1, 2009 at 5:13 PM

    >Initial audition:

    One thousand queries fly in, crowding for her attention. After 323 queries, the agent rubs her eyes and falls asleep and has a dream, or maybe she has a flashback? (No forget that, too contrived). Okay, back to the queries. One comes in, nicely typed with lots of white space, the tone of the query neither too obsequious nor too bombastic. No typos. Please…let this one be a good story. It sounds half-way decent, with an original spin. She peeks at the first paragraph on page 1. Doesn’t start with main character waking up. Good. Intriguing voice. Wow. This one has sparked her interest.

    Advance to the next round:
    She types, “Please send the first three chapters to my attention.”

  41. T. Anne on May 1, 2009 at 5:10 PM

    >No idol life for me

    Not one filled with constant praise,
    Or morose prose form distal frays
    Of staunch reviewers who bless the rest
    Yet berate my work without honest test.

    I find the world and it’s bright lights
    Too full of Simon’s honest blithe,
    To succeed in fiction, I must trust
    In God’s good wisdom
    Not Paula’s lust.

    Randy and Kara seem,
    To understand the music scene,
    They opine from their hearts desire,
    To listen to a lyrics fire.

    But Lyrics do not turn the page.
    Instead it is a noble deed,
    For an authors mind to plant the seed.
    to water the words,
    the readers need.
    To weave the novel that wisdom heeds.

    Lost and Grey’s I cannot see,
    as my muse will punish me.
    Then my WIP I cannot sell
    and my story who will tell?

  42. Sara K on May 1, 2009 at 5:10 PM

    >What it all came down to was the fact that nobody thought I had the gall to do it. Nobody thought I had the patience, endurance, and–most importantly–time to write a story I believe needs to be told. Nobody thought I was actually serious when I told them about my dream–I was young, inexperienced, and from a fairly small town. Whether I get kicked out in the first round or in the final, I’m in it for the long haul. What matters most is that I got here. I am showing everybody that I am proud of what I have done, that I’m not ashamed of it, and that I can take anything they throw at me. No matter what round I exit in, or if I go all the way, I can sleep peacefully.

    I did what I meant to do.

  43. raballard on May 1, 2009 at 4:54 PM

    >I wrote this last September and posted it on Query Tracker.

    “I often ask myself, am I the singer from American Idol that just can’t sing? You know the ones, the ones that think they are sooooo good, but when they open their mouths crap comes out.
    They have no idea they can’t sing. They are shocked when Randy or Simon tell them how pathetic they are. They actually thought they were the best singer in the world. Every viewer and the judges knew otherwise.
    Am I the terrible singer, and are the literary agents Randy and Simon?
    I have only been querying for 6 months, I know there are others who have been doing it a lot longer. It is way too early to throw in the towel, besides the OCD side of me will not let me quit, or throw in the towel” (the towel needs to be neatly folded and hung in its proper place.)

    I thought when I started writing all I needed was a great story line and a willing ear. I was sorely off the mark.

    I have continued to write since I posted this. I have survived cancer. I am an unwilling victim of the down turned economy. I remain optimistic about my possibilities. I am also becoming a little jaded and disappointed.

    I am a dreamer, and always have been. I always see things the way I wish them to be, and not the way they are.

    When is the right time for a dreamer to wake up and realize that not all dreams come true?

    I am not the bad singer on American Idol. I am just one of the two hundred thousand that showed up for the taping, but did not get a chance to perform before the judges

  44. Kat Harris on May 1, 2009 at 4:14 PM

    >American Idol is like my writing journey because:

    I tune out the world while both keep me enrapt with twisting and turning plots. (Okay, maybe I’m giving Idol too much credit there.)

    The green-eyed monster eats me from the inside out when I see someone go onto the next round.

    I’m just as good, right?

    If the judges — er, agents — would look beyond the superficial audition — er, query — they’d see the diamond in the rough.

    What do you mean it’s supposed to be polished first?

    And the deluded side of me continues to believe that someday I’ll hear the words, “You’re through to the next round, Dawg!”

  45. Kat on May 1, 2009 at 3:51 PM

    >Writing, singing- it’s all art. And we are all striving to answer one question: who we are as an artist.

    We struggle to perform our best, to find our niche in this ever-changing industry. It’s about taking that tired old song you’ve heard a million times before- that story about wizard school or that vampire romance- and putting an original twist on it. You have to make it your own.

    It’s about finding that wow-factor, that special something that silences the nay-sayers.

    It’s about finding your voice, and showing the world that you have something worth paying attention to.

  46. Jeannie Campbell on May 1, 2009 at 3:49 PM

    >Writing is like American Idol in that the judges on the show likely are mirrored in our lives. We will surely encounter our version of Simon. It’s inevitable. This might be your crit partner, an agent or an editor. Simons hurt, mainly because they tell the truth with little finesse or thought to feeling.

    But to counter our Simon, we should all have a Paula. Someone who looks on the positive side of even our worse endeavor, who tries to soften Simon’s blow and encourage us to try harder, to try again.

    But our writer’s Randy is usually the best person to have read your stuff. Randys often tell it like it is, but not nearly so mean as our Simon or as pacifying as our Paula. Our Randys should not be ignored as lesser “judges”—in fact, quite the opposite—the middle of the continuum is the most objective.

    word count: 150 exactly. 🙂

  47. Anonymous on May 1, 2009 at 3:41 PM

    >Having completed my novel, I felt prepared for the long, possibly tortuous

    battle ahead. Sending out queries, I was shocked to receive the first rejection so quickly. I

    was the Idol contestant you might see in the first weeks; overly confident, with no clue

    about their utter lack of talent. I imagined the agents laughing at me in the manner of the

    judges, after a grueling and empty day in Phoenix.

    Having tamed my expectations, you can imagine my elation when the second

    query came back, requesting sixty pages. Despite numerous blog warnings that a partial

    was only a small step above the slush, I danced my happy dance, certain I had the

    golden ticket.

    Another letter, standard form this time, thanks but no thanks. I was going

    home. But unlike Idol, it wasn’t over. Many more Randys, Paulas, Simons and even

    Karas were out there, eager to discover the next big thing.

  48. Achim Zahren on May 1, 2009 at 3:31 PM

    >I’m not the Susan Boyle of the writing world but I may be the Taylor Hicks. I’m sort of bumbling and funny. I’ll never be a great writer but I may turn out to be good. Right now I’m just lost and following a lot of interesting clues. Some are on blogs and others on the back of cereal boxes. I’m trying hard to get the judge’s attention. I want to go to Hollywood so badly but I often find my way obscured by the smoke monster. I’m waiting in line with everyone else.
    I’ve practiced my craft. I am so ready. I’m waiting to audition when I find myself suddenly standing outside a church in Los Angeles. I meet a woman inside who tells me how I can get back.
    “You mean back to the island?” I ask.
    She shakes her head and frowns, “no…back to Seattle Grace.”

  49. Rachelle on May 1, 2009 at 3:23 PM

    >I’m REALLY enjoying your analogies! Keep ’em coming.

  50. eiszoe on May 1, 2009 at 3:09 PM

    >Sometimes I think my writing is Mcdreamy, like a soft, healing Seattle rain.

    Sometimes I think my writing is somewhere between William Hung and Sanjaya, and I dream that Simon’s head pops out of my laptop to make some dry comment about how my syntax is simply a disaster.

    Sometimes I think my writing is my destiny, but then I overload on Dharma beer, start speaking Korean, and wake up in the Tunisian desert.

    Most of the time, my prose feels as bright and nuanced as Meredith Grey, as large and smooth as Reuben Studdard, and as driven and spiritual as John Locke. But, then Ben hands me a rejection letter, a workman uniform, and assigns me to the hatch to press the button for the rest of my days.

  51. Rose McCauley on May 1, 2009 at 2:57 PM

    >My writing journey is like Lost because I am continually uncovering surprises about my characters and myself. I am learning that my characters’ back-stories need to be told in snippets, in active mode and only as much as is absolutely necessary.

    My writing journey is unfolding in layers of knowledge, skill and dedication, much like the layers of the characters on Lost unfold to themselves, their fellow cast-mates and the viewers.

    My writing journey resembles Lost because it takes much imagination, grit and determination, and the end of the journey is often not the expected.

    Like Lost, my writing journey is unique and continues to shape me, astonish me and change me.

    My publishing journey is just beginning, similar to the first episode of Lost where neither the characters, writers or viewers knew if the concept would succeed. Only time and effort will reveal the ending.

  52. Lea Ann McCombs on May 1, 2009 at 2:41 PM

    >Everyone shows up. The clowns, the celebrity-seekers, the closet psychos, and—-buried in the crowd of thousands—-the truly talented.

    They’re hard to recognize at first glance, the Susan Boyles who give no indication on the surface of the power that lies beneath the pudgy features, the scruffy hairdo—-or the stilted synopsis. Many would pass them by with a roll of the eye and a snicker. But that’s the name of this game, after all. The search for an undiscovered diamond in the rough; that song, that voice, that book which will transcend differences and strike a chord in us all. Maybe this time…

    So the Simon Cowells, the Rachelle Gardeners, give them a chance. “Show me what you can do, Sweetheart.”

    And while the rowdy wannabes shout and curse and make excuses, the cream rises to the top, slowly, quietly and the world doesn’t have to be told when it’s found another winner.

  53. Jennifer Shirk on May 1, 2009 at 2:28 PM

    >Writing and the publishing journey is like American Idol because
    1)there is A LOT of competition

    2)you may not be that great of a writer even though your friends and critique partners say you are

    3)sometimes it’s not always about being a good writer and having a good story but having a marketable story, too

    4)you may write better than thousands, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always stand out when you’re compared to only a few talented authors

    5)you may be a good writer, but the story your writing might not be suitable for your “voice”

    6)hard work does pay off

    7)talent and timing are key factors to becoming published

    8)dreams can come true!

  54. Sara Cox Landolt on May 1, 2009 at 2:21 PM

    >I want my McManuscript to win. Seriously.
    It’s better than the Others.

  55. A.D. McClish on May 1, 2009 at 2:15 PM

    >You start in crowd of thousands, hoping something—your characters, your stylistic flavor, your platform—will catch an agent’s eye. You send in your audition—a synopsis and a few chapters—then bite your lip and squirm while waiting for the panel to weigh in. Simon is disgusted by your clichéd descriptions. His only comment is “horrific”. Paula thinks your writing style is “adorable” and Cara calls your protagonist “sassy”. Randy just says, “I don’t know, dog.”
    But they send you through.
    By some miracle, you get through Hell Week and you’re in the top twelve. You’re hearing buzz words like “representation” and “three book deal”. By the final ten, your book is bared for the world to see. Simon still tells everyone that you suck. But the bottom line is, America keeps buying your books. Even Simon can’t deny you’ve got some talent because you outlasted everyone.
    You’ve won.

  56. Ellen Painter Dollar on May 1, 2009 at 2:13 PM

    >A friend recently asked how my writing was going. I sighed. “Got a rejection letter yesterday….But then I watched American Idol…”

    “And what?” my friend interrupted, “That made everything all better?!”

    Well, no (although TV is often my drug of choice for making the day’s frustrations less painful). Idol reminds me that success requires more than just talent.

    Simon pinpoints the qualities that separate stars from people who sing well—passion, originality, good timing and judgment, confidence, hard work. The same qualities separate great writers from people who write well. Simon sometimes accuses contestants of being “indulgent.” Writing can be very indulgent. I can write something lovely that means nothing to anyone but me. That’s fine for my journal, but not if I want to be published.

    Simon makes a great writing coach—a little obnoxious, but also honest, wise and almost always right. Plus he makes weekly house calls—for free!

  57. Marilyn Peake on May 1, 2009 at 2:13 PM

    >Simon Cowell lives in my head. “You seriously think you’re a writer?” Paula Abdul whispers, “Oh, that’s just Simon.” I tune them out. I must type on my keyboard, punch in the correct sequence of numbers and letters, or I will be lost forever. Gray smoke encircles me, pulls me into the vortex of my imaginary world. There live all manner of things: dragons, people of bravery and beauty, tesseract-traveling time machines, and politics that rip my worlds apart. Off in the distance, Susan Boyle sings, and I envision angels with silvery wings. I write, encumbered by the thought that fiction must read more interestingly than the medical textbook, Gray’s Anatomy. It must sizzle and pop and seduce, much like the TV drama, Grey’s Anatomy.

  58. Grebbsy on May 1, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    >How is my journey to writing like a TV musical talent show? It is, yet it isn’t. I may not win the top prize, but nobody is going to point and laugh at me on TV for having the temerity to submit it. I may not be photogenic, but I don’t have to desperately pretend to be so in order to even get to square one with my novel. I may gain success and even have my name recognised if I succeed in getting published; but my career, if I do, is likely to last far longer than the fifteen minutes of fame afforded to pop idols.

    And literary agents are human beings, which is more than can be said for Simon Cowell.

  59. Kristen on May 1, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    >The Island, a LOST analogy
    by: Kristen Torres-Toro

    Panting, I stumble through the tangled underbrush in my office—which doubles as a greenhouse—and fly past a stack of papers. A root grabs my ankle as I lunge at the computer and enter the correct code. Rejection and failure loom over me; their dark, smoky haze devours the quickly fading dream that this day will be different.

    The paper tower tips and tumbles to the floor—a heap of hopes and scribbles, of manuscripts and schematics for a new marketing plan. I need a platform so grand that someone in the publishing world will rescue me from this obscure place, the island of the “unknown name.”

    A new message waits. Another agent has to pass because the risk is too great. With a sigh, I slump back in my chair and print off the rejection; soon it is lost amidst the Others.

    It’s time to build that platform.

  60. Julie on May 1, 2009 at 1:24 PM

    >I have learned writing differs only from other types of performing in that it’s read instead of heard. When whittled down to their most basic of elements, the only difference between singing and writing is the perceiving sense. Whether they are the lyrics of a song or words of a story, they are little more than of whispers of promise before they’re expressed.

    It matters little if you’re standing in line for days in a stadium or in an agent’s or publisher’s inbox. To be successful, both take practice, perseverance and most of all, hope. Writers want to be Idolized just as much as those who dream of performing on that grand Los Angeles stage. No matter which line we stand in, we have shown up because we can’t help but hope our own hearts will someday be judged by the world to be worthy of its adoration.

  61. Robbie Iobst on May 1, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    >It never occurred to me that pursuing publication would result in a plane crash. But it did. Here I am, Lost, seeking a contract that will fly me out of here.

    Yesterday the Smoke Monster named Rejection chased me again. It appeared out of no where. I thought I was safe from it, but I never am.

    Every once in a while I run into the Others, those editors who pop out of nowhere. They scare me because I can’t quite figure them out. Am I in some kind of time warp?

    And then there’s Ben (Satan) who wants me to serve his purposes and write his way. But I can’t. I won’t. It’s a battle because He lies to me all the time telling me that he is for me. He’s not.

    This writing journey – am I in Heaven, Hell or somewhere in between?

  62. Holly Bodger on May 1, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    >Sometimes, it feels like I am alone on a deserted island (Lost), and no matter how hard I work (Grey’s Anatomy), it all comes down to whether or not I can gain the approval of the agents, publishers and critics (Paula, Randy and Simon). Yet, even if I succeed in making it to the very few who are published (top 12), the only thing that matters is whether or not the public will vote for me (buy my book).

  63. Kate on May 1, 2009 at 12:41 PM

    >LOST: A Publishing Journey

    It starts with a bang. An idea strikes like a plane flattening itself against the earth.
    Then comes confusion, the need for direction.
    A clear path presents itself and you begin to write, navigating your way through a jungle of characters and conflicts.
    Finally, the next step–the hatch, a closed door you have to open. The quest for an agent feels impossible, but you work at it and eventually blow the thing open with your fantastic query.
    But the journey continues. Now inside the hatch, you must keep working away, revising over and over to the rhythm of a button being pressed. Finally, the sky turns purple–an unforgettable moment when the book finally sells.
    You’re in a different world now, but you build relationships with the people around as you work toward a common goal, always striving to reach that next level without forgetting where you came from.

  64. Lell on May 1, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    >Writing is like American Idol because
    everybody has a dream,

    only a few dreamers
    are brave enough to try
    to turn that dream into reality,

    only a few of those get an opportunity
    to reach an audience with their work,

    and finally,

    enough other people have to see value
    in the expression of that dream
    for the dreamer to be successful.

  65. pameladavid on May 1, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    >Like many of the hopeful American Idol contestants, I was foolishly optimistic when I began my writing journey. I’d been encouraged by many and in my enthusiasm for my story and it’s ‘big idea’, I dashed off a sparkling query letter before finishing the book. Big mistake. Like many eager Idol contestants who had their hopes crushed in the auditions, I was quickly humbled with the realization that my writing wasn’t ready yet. Now I’m taking the time to work on my craft, before taking the plunge again. The weeding out process in publishing really is similar to American Idol; cream rises to the top and right now, I’m a glass of half and half.

    Grey’s Anatomy also parallels my publishing journey. The interns and residents want to dive in and do surgeries from day one, but they aren’t at that level yet. They need to learn and to develop their skills, as I do. Meredith has gone back and forth with Derek, afraid to love, afraid to commit. Alex has done the same, doubting his faith in himself as a doctor and as a person, to have the courage to love Izzy. Similarly, I’ve had a love-hate relationship my writing. One day I think it’s stellar, and the next that it’s pure dreck. I abandoned five manuscripts at page 100 before finally realized that it’s not a race, it’s a journey. I have to take my time, enjoy the process, and finish each book that I start. Like the Grey’s Anatomy doctors, I also have faith that this is my calling, and that eventually I’ll get to where I want to be.

  66. Barbara Early on May 1, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    >It begins with spark too rough to appreciate, and too obvious to ignore. It might be a clear note sung in the children’s choir, or that poem about sunlight glistening on a dewdrop.

    “That’s nice,” they say, and pat your head. “You’re pretty good.”

    It’s fun, so you keep working, keep practicing, keep growing. Life interferes. But soon you’re back on track. On track for what?

    Dare I dream? Am I that good?

    More practice, more learning. Life tries to interfere again; you resist.

    “Wow,” someone says, “you’ve got potential.” But you see only flaws. No time for dreams now, only work.

    Then something breaks–a chance. Surrounded by thousands like you, who have started out just as strong, you hope that perhaps you have been gifted just a little bit more, or have labored just a little bit longer. For what? You’re not sure. You haven’t let yourself dream.

  67. Rowenna on May 1, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    >Like American Idol: Most people don’t get a shot at being heard the first time through, but there’s always another audition location to try again. And sometimes it’s the harshest criticism that improves your voice the most. Thank Simon or your crit group.
    Like Lost: You can try to stop writing, but it draws you back in, just like you might want to leave the island, but the island won’t let you. And, really, it might be better to give the island what it wants. You’re happier when you’re there, right?

  68. Jabez on May 1, 2009 at 10:07 AM

    >1. The best have quiet confidence; the worst have no doubts.

    2. The same errors recur. Judges struggle to find new words to critique.

    3. Industry insiders keep the gates, but the public decides who wins.

    4. Makeovers help.

  69. Melissa on May 1, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    >In the beginning, things are really awkward. Encouraged by those who mean well (mostly your mom), you bravely put your young prose out there. A short story, a poem. Until that first time you’re judged, you have no idea you’re terrible.

    Amazingly, though, if you can keep going, learn to stretch your style a little, maybe connect with a mentor, you get a little better. Your talent begins to shine. Still, the competition is tough. You have to learn to accept criticism and how to learn from it. Eventually you will find what works for you.

    Sometimes the hard work starts to wear you down. Your voice may falter a time or two. The important thing is to keep going. Keep proving you’re here for a reason.

    There has to be a winner eventually. Why not you?

  70. Nate on May 1, 2009 at 9:28 AM

    >Expectations and Reality – these are the two bridges that bind American Idol and my own publishing journey. Like many who forgo a shower and stand in line overnight to audition for Idol, I wait patiently and earnestly to be evaluated. Hoping I am the next David Cook, I secretly fear I am actually William Hung.

    So I practice, I study, I write. My family loves what I have written, making my actual reader-to-fan ratio 1:1. The expectation is that I write in a way people desire more; the reality is I cannot get past the judges – maybe I can get on one of those Idol Rewind shows on late night cable. I’ll take anything at this point. Would it help if I sang “You are my brother”?

  71. H. Scott Hunt on May 1, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    >Randy: “Yo, yo, yo. Check it out. Dude. I was thinking all week long, like, man, how is he gonna do with this genre. But Dude, let me tell ya; you knocked it out of the park!”

    Kara: “I’ve got just three words: You-Could-Write-The-Phonebook!”

    Paula: “I…let’s…I think…what…your cover looks really great tonight.”

    Simon: “Honestly, I don’t know what these other three were reading. Your story was rubbish and quite boring really, and I think the ramblings of a third grader’s essay on what he did this past summer would have been more enjoyable. I really couldn’t wait until it was over. I think you’re in serious trouble this week.”

  72. Eden on May 1, 2009 at 9:17 AM

    >The hardest step is to say, “I have something I want to put out there and I’m going to do it.”

    Then you work hard and research possible venues to realize your dream. There are all kinds of people going the same route with the same dream. Most don’t take it as seriously as you do and fewer still have as much fun doing it as you do.

    You want to get your foot in the door so you offer your work for scrutiny. Some people will mock it (and you) but most people in the industry want to help you. Once you learn to listen to the criticism, you can use it to improve your work. This venue might not get you started in the business but if you can learn from the experience and continue to improve, you can get there.

  73. Krista Phillips on May 1, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    >{Enter Krista’s Fiction World}

    I’m going to be a finalist.

    Wow! It felt SO good to say that. Sweet Jesus alive, I’m going to be a finalist! Every second of learning the craft, every sleepless night, every tear I cried in frustration. It was all worth it.

    I sit, waiting for the results. I suck in a haggard breath as my stomach wrenches. Please God, don’t let me throw up!

    They announce the first finalist. It’s not me. More names are called. Chills crawl down my spine when I realize the haunting reality. Only two people remain. It’s like a horror version of musical chairs. My hands and feet are bound, my mouth gagged with raunchy clothe, the announcer holding the chair, taunting me.

    I hear a voice and close my eyes, knowing I have no power to change what will be.

    “And the last finalist is…”
    I would explain the correlation, but like every good novelist, I’ll let the readers draw their own conclusions from my allegory!

  74. debcleve1971@yahoo.com on May 1, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    >I am Meredith Grey. Afraid, insecure, longing for what I don’t have. Loving McDreamy with a passion (my writing), yet afraid of him at the same time. Will he/my writing just end of giving me more heartache? I’d much rather shake my Meredith skin and climb into Susan Boyle’s any day…plucked or unplucked eyebrows. She believes in herself. She believes in her talent and the ability to pull it off. And, she has never given up. I long to look my judges in the eye and prove them wrong.

  75. Teri D. Smith on May 1, 2009 at 8:57 AM

    >My American Idol Writing Journey

    I dream the same dreams of American Idol contestants, that my passion and personality as it shines in my words will wow the judges. I have a “Paula” writing partner who gives lots of encouragement with tidbits of criticism. Randy’s like an agent giving more direct, specific criticism and occasionally tells me my ideas rocks. Simon’s the scary editor, brutally honest, the hardest to please, but the one with the bottom line I need to hear. I even have a Ryan in my family, asking probing questions, wondering how I feel about the experience.
    My journey’s also like Grey’s Anatomy. I have a number of word doctors in critique partners who perform surgery on the ailing parts of my writing. They stick with me through all of the drama like Merideth’s friends.
    But it’s the Lost-like mysteries which keep my readers turning pages!

  76. Susan Elliott on May 1, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    >In a sea of hopefuls waiting in line, there are both Carrie Underwoods and William Huangs. Carrie will rise to the top because she’s got it all, looks, personality and an amazing singing voice and William will sink to the bottom(though William’s 15 minutes of fame probably does not have a literary equivalent).

    But most people in the crowd are not a clear Carrie or a clear William. Most are “middle of the pack” where, in order to advance, you not only need talent and stage presence but also some luck and being in the right place at the right time.

    Who emerges from the middle of the pack is often left to factors that you have no control over.

  77. Michael Gray on May 1, 2009 at 8:26 AM

    >As I walk to the stage with Susan Boyle ambitions, I can’t help but wonder if I’m really just Sanjaya in a sea of Simon Cowells.

  78. Sasha on May 1, 2009 at 8:17 AM

    >Everyone may think I’m an idealisitic loser, but I know I have a destiny. In order to live the life I want, I must get approval from the judges (agent, editor, and buyer). Scared and angsty, I rely on my over-dramatic personal life to get me through.

    However, unlike Locke, I don’t do flashbacks.

  79. Carie Davis on May 1, 2009 at 8:14 AM

    >After spending years honing my skills and polishing that manuscript, I’m ready to take the leap and try to break into the business. First I have to get noticed out of all the crazy people who think they have talent because their mom told them so. Now I’ve got an agent and I’m competing with the people who can actually write, great. Oh and I have to polish more. What?! I thought I was done with voice, I mean writing lessons. You’re the agent, Simon. Done! Let’s submit it. What do you mean it’s not about how good the manuscript is? Why did I just spend all this time polishing it if that editor is going to reject me just because he doesn’t like my main character’s name? This contest, I mean business is about the personal tastes of people? You mean it’s a popularity contest for books? Oh no.

  80. LivingLove on May 1, 2009 at 8:13 AM

    >Singers make it into the public eye with years of practice; singing in the shower, over the vacuum cleaner, in church choirs. Writers see their work in bookstores and on strangers’ bookshelves through tedious effort during the morning, lunch, bus rides, and midnight hours.

    Singers come before judges with months of preparation, self-criticism (like Dr. Grey in Grey’s Anatomy), and motivation, knowing the possibility of rejection. Writers submit to agents, editors, and publishers with endless mental reassurance, wavering confidence, and the determination to prove themselves.

    American Idol contestants succeed beyond the television show because they know how to touch a chord in the heart of America’s public. Writers hit the bestselling lists because they intertwine readers in worlds of fear and delight, adrenaline and exploration, disappointment and hope.

    Successful writers are like American Idol winners. They overcome hard work, self-doubt, capture judges’ approval, and win the love of the people.

  81. Julie Gillies on May 1, 2009 at 8:03 AM

    >The dream incubated deep in the girl’s heart long before her concious mind grasped its existance.

    She penned her first book at the tender age of nine; 28 pages long, it featured dreamy descriptions of an abandoned farm house and the mysterious happenings within. That particular book would be the only one she wrote for many years.

    Squelched by unspeakable violence, hunger and chaos, the girl’s dream lay forgotten, like a one-eyed, ratty-haired doll discarded on a dusty road.

    Still, the dream lived and grew inside her, crying our for recognition and longing to be nourished.

    When she gathered her courage at last, she quaked before the judges, feeling much like the abandonded doll. When they read her words, tears formed. The achingly beautiful words made their hearts soar.

    And God smiled.

  82. Alicha Marie on May 1, 2009 at 8:01 AM

    >The American Idol Pitfall: I get up every morning, grab my coffee which, until a month ago, used to be tea. I give my daughter her sippy cup, send a glance heavenward, thinking, “Don’t bother me for the next…”

    I look on my email first. Nothing…yet. So, for the umpteenth time, I reread a rejection note from an agent who complimented my talent saying ‘Though there is no doubt in your writing ability…” (a comment even I realize could be interpreted a couple of different ways!)

    Then,on to my Google toolbar, where I have my favorite bloggers bookmarked. I read each word with fanatic enthrall. My emotions mimicking the agent’s tone; my hope soars or deflates on his or her market predictions. I have become a ‘follower’.

    Wow! When did I let human words become my north star, or make my center the winds of chance and change? Good wake-up call!

  83. L. R. Giles on May 1, 2009 at 7:56 AM

    >Writing is like American Idol because I’ve auditioned a bunch of times and still can’t make it to Hollywood Week. And, I swear I’m better than the contestants who dominate the airwaves the first few weeks of the show. You know who I’m talking about, multi-talented guys like Chocolate Lover X who make their own spandex costumes, hum on key, and play kazoo. I’m serious, my spandex costumes are waaayy better than his.

  84. Marybeth on May 1, 2009 at 7:50 AM

    >Auditioning for AI is no different than querying into a slush pile – You are one against thousands. Will your talent stand out? If you are lucky you get to audition or send in a partial. Wonderful! You have one small chance to shine, or not. But your words spoke to the judges/agent. Perfect! You bring out the big guns. Your talent gets thrown in front of the eyes of the ones who could change your fate. NERVOUS! You’ve made it through the first round; the judges/agent like you, no, they love you! You move forward. They are going to mold your talent and with a team point out what’s wrong, what‘s right, and who you are expected to be. Excited…And then it happens, you are showcased in front of the entire world. Now it’s time for America to judge. If you are lucky, you will be number One!

  85. Alps on May 1, 2009 at 7:37 AM

    >Mamas always start it.

    In her best dress, shiny black shoes with a heal,
    Mama in the front row tearing up at the first note
    Of “America the Beautiful.”
    Taking her by the arm afterward,
    Telling everybody, “This is my daughter.”
    Thirty years on, that daughter stands outside the studio
    In a line of people wrapped round the building.
    She can still remember Mama’s bright-eyed tears, and she thinks,
    There’s still time to live the dream.

    “If I Were President of the United States”
    Was his first paper that won something:
    A hundred dollar prize, tucked in his jeans pocket.
    Mama stood, cheeks glowing, her smile hardly fitting on her face
    When the newspaperman came to take the picture.
    Thirty years on, he emails his masterpiece,
    Still recalling the click of the newspaperman’s camera,
    The glare of the flash, and he thinks,
    There’s still time to live the dream.

  86. Andrea on May 1, 2009 at 7:09 AM

    >What’s this? An agent has opened her stage! A real live agent will hear my written voice.
    I’ve worked hard to improve my voice, but will the judge notice me? Will my voice stand out?
    I submit my work and wait. There are so many of us waiting to be heard. Will it be good enough to move me to the next round?
    She calls my number.
    I take a deep breath, step up to the x on the stage, and sing. She’s smiling. I’ve been chosen.
    I am the next American Writing Idol.
    Being chosen isn’t the end though. She says she’ll need to operate. Remove words here; add there, all to strengthen my voice. It’s painful when she cuts, but she is the Doctor. She knows where I need help.
    When she’s done, I’m amazed. My voice is beautiful.

  87. Jill on May 1, 2009 at 7:09 AM

    >Just like on American Idol, the world is teeming with wannabe authors, querying agents at the “tryouts”. Some potential candidates rely on a natural talent, some have studied and honed their abilities and some assume they have talent, but never try to do anything to develop it. They’re hoping they’re the lucky ones to get picked.
    Not everyone with the ability gets picked to go to Hollywood. There has to be something that stands out and triggers the judges’ interest. (Although I don’t think Bikini Girl would have gotten as far with agents and editors as she did with the judges on AI.)
    But there’s no rule against trying again the next season. Sometimes people get passed over in the writing world and in AI, but they study and work and come back again the next time to try again. The only way to guarantee you’ll never make it in the publishing world or on AI is to stop trying.

  88. Chatty Kelly on May 1, 2009 at 6:43 AM

    >150 words:

    I stand waiting with thousands of others. It’s ironic that we all think we have a chance because the level of talent varies so greatly. I look to my left and feel superior. I look to my right and feel intimidated. But I stay in line.

    Many of us are weeded through before we even get to the “judges”…the publishing house. But a few get to stand, knock-kneed and nervous, and show our best. Then we wait for the response. And wait.

    A golden ticket! Publication! The euphoria builds, and then I realize this is when the real work begins. Now is when I really have to shine. And even though the judges loved it, if the American people don’t, it really won’t matter will it? It’s their vote that will mark my success.

    But I won’t let their vote define my worth, because sometimes Taylor Hicks beats Chris Daughtry.

  89. Amy Sue Nathan on May 1, 2009 at 6:42 AM

    >My writing journey is messy, heartbreaking, exhilarating and dramatic. It is strewn with setbacks and disappointments — sometimes devastating ones — yet I’m drawn to the work, it’s my calling…like Meredith and all the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy.

  90. darkened_jade on May 1, 2009 at 5:46 AM

    >American Idol (70 words)

    I’ve tried the usual routes and been rejected. So I published on webook, and went for popular vote. Made it to top ten percent then stalled. Tried again with new collection, and once again the top ten was mine. This is my journey so far. So close and yet so far. Fighting my way through the masses and still unable to make the final cut. Yet nothing is going to stop me from achieving all my dreams.

    Grey’s Anatomy (40 words)

    The characters are chattering and confused. Every step forward, is in reality a step back. Emotions stir when common sense should suffice. And McDreamy is waiting in the wings, with comfort and advice (or my husband, either way).

    This was fun. I’d love to try how my writing journey is like an episode of the twilight zone, I think that could be interesting.

  91. Katie on May 1, 2009 at 5:17 AM

    >My writing journey is like American Idol because I truly think my writing is good, but I worry that when I get on the stage, the judges will tell me I’m delusional.

  92. Erastes on May 1, 2009 at 3:54 AM

    >They looked at my genre, and they laughed. “Gay Historical Romance?” said the dark sarcastic agent, “you really think that’s viable?”

    “It’s so uncommercial,” said the business-suit. “It’ll never sell.”

    “You’re a woman,” said the bitchy female publisher. “what makes you think you can write gay romance?”

    I could hear the whole of New York laughing.

    Then I moved my pen, and started to sing, and they stopped laughing and cheered.

  93. Camille Cannon Eide on May 1, 2009 at 2:30 AM

    >(I couldn’t resist, I’m an addict.)

    Research is like LOST: by the time your question is answered, six more have arisen. In publishing, Jack is the sales director who is convinced it’s up to him to save this rag-tag outfit. Locke is the acquisitions editor who believes there is magic here and will do whatever it takes to convince the others. Hurley is the agent—he’s connected, knows what he likes, and is always there for you, dude. And he’s accustomed to dealing with imaginary people. The Island is the writer’s mind: an endless source of disturbing manifestations that normal people are too afraid to explore. And talk about writer’s block: Kate is the pathetic writer who can’t figure out who her flippin hero is and changes her mind more often than Ben lies. Desmond is . . . just plain cool. And the current whereabouts of Sun and Jin’s baby is a MYSTERY. To me.

  94. Megan on May 1, 2009 at 2:16 AM

    >Writing, much like American Idol, is a journey. This in turn is also like Grey’s, as Dr. Meredith Grey is discovering herself and her profession, the more she practices. As a writer, every day I write I am discovering more about myself and my writing.

    “The journey so far”, as often described on Idol, is our writing so far.

    I was published for the first time this week – in a newspaper – and that is the equivalent of me getting into the top 100 week. Much like the contestants in top 100 week, I know my writing is good enough to get me in, but I have to do a lot of work to progress and improve.

    As I get more and more published, and more recognised, I climb the ladder of American Idol, until finally I win and get a novel published.

  95. thatwemightfly on May 1, 2009 at 1:56 AM

    >Writing is like American Idol because like Idol’s Simon Cowell, Nathan Bransford is both cruelly rejecting (for our own good, of course) and totally hot in some strange old man way.

    And all that talk about chocolate martini’s reminds me of Paula’s behavior.

  96. Kim Kasch on May 1, 2009 at 1:40 AM

    >(AI): Crowded competitors step on the stage, standing shoulder to shoulder they wait . . . for that one chance that will make ‘em or break ‘em.

    (GA) Finally, that do-or-die moment arrives.

    (WWTBAM) Wannabe writers belt out their words, spilling their guts onto the page, then wait . . . for a possible lifeline.

    They sing their stories for the editorial-judges who, quick as a hummingbird’s wing, either dash lifelong dreams to smithereens or send hearts soaring into the stratosphere, with nothing but a thumbs-up or quick kick in the keister.

    (L) These rulers, of the publishing island, prove they are the Gods of the printed page. (S) Those not worthy are shunned because there can only be a few survivors.

    Code: AI = American Idol, GA=Grey’s Anatomy, WWTBAM=Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, L=Lost, S=Survivor. (A few extra for added interest, after all this is like ratings week)

  97. Ng on May 1, 2009 at 1:30 AM

    >I stood on stage facing the unanimous negative vote of the judges/agents. I struggled to speak.
    “Judges/agents, you have rejected me once, twice, maybe even three times! But you will not reject me forever.”
    Then I turned to the audience and addressed them.
    “Because all of these judges cannot grow bigger but I CAN!”