Yep, it is that time of year – American Idol has begun. I used to watch the weeks leading up to “Hollywood Week” to see who would make it through and get that Golden Ticket. But this year, I didn’t. Part of it was because I got behind. I recorded them all but by the time I would get through them it would be well into the season and they would probably be down to five contestants, if I managed to catch up. I loved watching the tears of joy, whooping and hollering and excitement whenever Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler announced someone was “Going to Hollywood”. I assumed it was the same feeling a romance author gets when the call comes that they have finaled in the Golden Heart. One step closer to a dream. Hollywood is that one step closer for these singers. It doesn’t mean they will win, but their chances of being noticed by the record industry just increased. Which is the same for Golden Heart finalists. Once your name is on that list, people who could offer a leg up in your career begin to take notice.
Another reason I wasn’t compelled to watch the audition weeks was I don't like seeing disappointment. Some of these singers put their heart and soul on the line when they step before the three judges and belt out their song of choice. In past years, some have been humiliating. I don’t know about this year, I didn’t watch. Most authors have gone through the disappointment of getting a letter in the mail or e-mail that basically says “You are not good enough.” Oh, it may be couched in kind terms, and even encouragement. Still, there is no offer of representation or publication and despite what words were used in the rejection; an author translates it into “you are not good enough.” This is hard enough to take in the privacy of your own home. For the idol contestants, it must be tenfold. Imagine your rejection letter being read on the nightly news for tens of thousands of people to hear. Or worse, CNN, so the entire world can know you are not good enough.
Of course, the decision on whether and artist continues or not is the decision of two out of three people, and these three do not always agree. Heck, I am sure several armchair Idol judges (which I will admit, I tend to be), don’t always agree. There were times I wondered why a person was sent through and why another wasn’t. No different than an armchair quarterback during a game, yelling at the screen. I don’t yell. However, there was that one season, when a young man was kept on the show longer than he should have been (in my opinion, of course) and better talent voted off and my favorite of the bunch did not win. Oh well, I am sure my opinion would matter if I owned a record label / recording studio. That was also the first year I picked up the phone and voted.
For an author, the decision on being put through also comes down to a handful of people. Just because Agent A wasn’t interested, or Judge B scored you low, doesn’t mean you are lacking anything. It is one opinion. Just getting in front of the judges is a hurdle. For Idol, they all start in the slush pile. Look at how many people show up to auditions. There is no possible way they will all get to perform before the three judges. Instead, they sing before other individuals who make the decision on whether the singer is good enough to continue on. Just like assistants at an agency or publisher read through manuscripts and query letters. I wonder how many gems have been turned away by these other judges that may have been loved by the three who carry the power? It is a slush pile, luck of the draw and being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right person.
So, if you are still waiting to get your Golden Ticket, don’t let a rejection letter deter you and don’t read it as “You are not good enough” even though it seems to be screaming those exact words back at you. It is one opinion in a sea of thousands. Take a day to curl up on the couch, beverage of choice in one hand, box of chocolates beside you and watch Idol. At least when someone goes home, you know exactly how they feel.
Remember, tomorrow is another day and you will find that person who loves your voice and wants you, just like it happened to my critique partner, Lily George. She did not give in or give up and last week she debuted with her Love Inspired Inspiration Regency Romance, Captain of Her Heart. Everyone who leaves a comment, with an email address, telling us about their own Idol moments will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Captain of Her Heart.