Thursday, December 18, 2014

A World of Encouragement

We’re big The Voice fans in our house. Every season, we watch it from beginning to end, cheering on our favorite singers and being disappointed if they get sent home. Occasionally, we even vote for someone if we really believe in them and really want them to win. But most times, it’s so hard to choose, and I really want to see all of them succeed.

The thing I really enjoy about The Voice is how encouraging it is. The coaches are there to help, not tear down, and they build the singers up to make them better—all the singers, not just the ones on their team. I find that approach refreshing. This season with Pharrell Williams seemed especially sweet. He always had something nice and encouraging to say to everyone, including the other coaches.

I’m well aware of the fact that this is a competition and the contestants want to win. And so do the coaches, but they don’t undermine each other or sabotage one another to get there. Yeah, there’s trash talking, but that’s what I expect in a healthy competition, and it makes for great entertainment. By the end, it always amazes me how the singers have forged friendships with one another and want to see each other succeed.

I can imagine the stress and nerves they go through every week before getting on stage. The amount of preparation for each show must just consume their lives. But if that’s what they want to do for their career, then they have to put in the work. They have to be willing to do what it takes to stand out from the rest. And I don’t think any of them are afraid to do it. It seems like they are all willing to work hard to attain their dreams.

The world of singing is much like the world of publishing. It’s highly competitive and full of rejection. The contestants tell stories about how they tried to break into the music industry previously but were denied or they had record deals that didn’t sell enough so they were dropped by their labels. They know very well how cruel the music industry can be, so to have a coach that is famous, respected, and willing to impart their knowledge on them has to be an amazing experience. Even if they don’t win, they get so much out of their time on the show.

I often think how amazing something like this would be for writers. They could call it Words, and agents and editors would listen to an author read part of their work, then decide if they wanted them on their team. As the season progressed, the coaches would help the writer polish their manuscript and make it the best they could.

Each week could feature a different part of the manuscript. One week could be dialogue, the next suspense, or an action scene. The public could vote for their favorite authors, just like they vote for their favorite singers now. Then, at the end, the winner would get a publishing contract and advance.

Wouldn’t that be awesome? I think it would be cool. And it would be beneficial to everyone. Agents/editors would get to discover new authors, readers would get to discover new authors, and authors would be able to build their platform and fan base.

That’s the other thing that is really cool about The Voice: it builds followers for the singers. Again, even if they don’t win, they have fans. Like the publishing industry, the music industry is leery about taking on new talent because they don’t know if they will be successful. They want to bank on something that’s going to make them money (they are a for-profit business), so if an artist already has a following, they are more than likely to take the risk.

Artists can’t do it alone. They need support. They need mentors, friends, family, and fans. The actual creation of art may be a solitary endeavor, but it takes a community to enjoy it. I appreciate every one of you who reads and enjoys my books, and without you, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

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