How a lot of Aspiring Writers are like American Idol Contestants

I'm sure you've watched American Idol at least once, right? If you have, you can't help but notice how some contestants (and their supportive families) often boast about how great they are, how great they sing; how all their friends and family think they are the BOMB and should win American Idol hands down! Yet when it comes times to show their stuff in front of the judges they are...in a word...AWFUL. And when they are told so, they argue with the judges; successful professionals who have been in the music industry for years. When the camera follows them out after their disastrous audition, most of them are cursing at the camera and telling everyone how stupid the judges were not to pick them. These contestants are, in a word: DELUSIONAL.


By contrast, the contestants who truly do sing great are, as a general rule, humble, self-effacing and in no way braggadocios. They are grateful for the opportunity...they don't tell everyone how privileged they should be that they have deigned to share their talent.

Now, I am not a literary agent (but I have a couple of friends who are) or an acquisitions editor for Christian publishing but I often hear from them about numerous aspiring authors who frequently tell them that "God told them to write this story". They have commented that is the number one thing they hear from them. However, there is usually one big problem; a lot of these people can't write - they can't put a coherent sentence together and it's sheer agony for those who are tasked to edit it to get it into a format that is readable.

Some of these authors genuinely think that they have been handed down the manuscript directly from on high. Well if that is truly the case, then someone needs to tell the Lord to take an English Composition class. Why are people like this? Do they honestly think that it carries any weight with a literary agent if they tell them that? If anything, it has the exact opposite effect; they end up thinking the delusional author is nuts.


I was once asked to read a manuscript by a person who had been traditionally published a lot who had written a different kind of book under a different pen name. It was AWFUL. The characters behavior made no logical sense. By the time I got through 1/2 of it I was screaming with frustration. I then went and bought a book by this person under their traditional pen name and it was filled with the same unrealistic behavior by the main characters. (The heroine meets a stranger and immediately begins wondering what would happen were she and this person who comes from a different background to marry ten minutes after meeting him). Who thinks like that?! Only people who don't have a firm grip on reality. This author sold a lot of books - it just amazes me the editors never brought this kind of stuff up as something to be fixed because it was so out of character for the type of person they were writing about. If someone I had only met only briefly began to wonder about marrying me I would run in the opposite direction...fast.

Why are people so delusional about the things they create? Do you think it might be insecurity? I often wonder about my own writing journey, if I was under a delusion as well. I felt inspired to write my first book, The Victor, by an Amy Grant song called Fairy-tale 30 years ago. I even asked the Lord after I began writing it to give me a scripture to confirm that the idea was from Him. My heart's desire with the book was to share the Gospel with people who were like I used to be: didn't want to be witnessed to, wouldn't go to church, and wouldn't read the Bible. I came to the Lord as an atheistic Jew after seeing Jesus of Nazareth on television in 1977. I wanted my book to do for others what the television movie did for me. Immediately after I requested the scripture, into my head popped "Psalm 45". I looked it up and was flabbergasted because the first verse said this: "My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer." It just floored me. I ended up using the rest of the Psalm in the book because it was perfect. I even put scripture references throughout.




My definition of success with The Victor was that people would come to the Lord as a result of reading it but since it was released in 2009, I have never heard that this ever happened and with a name like mine, I'm easy to find. A lot of non Christians have bought this book, Jewish and Muslim included. Of course, I had my own delusions of grandeur too. I hoped that word of mouth would get out and it would sell lots of copies but it didn't. It is still selling after five years and I still get a lot of positive feedback by those who have read it but nothing like what I was hoping for....so I wonder. Was I delusional too in thinking that the Lord wanted to use my book to reach the lost? Guess I won't really know until I get to heaven. I just know that I have been as faithful as I could possibly be with the talents He has given me. I just want to glorify Him in all I do...and that isn't delusional.

3 comments:

  1. When we serve God, there are three things we need to recognize: 1) We are seed planters. (And someone else may water and tend to it.) 2) Nothing is wasted in God's economy. 3) The most important part is obedience. You were obedient to write your book!

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  2. Well said. I'm a line editor for a lot of self-published authors. Some of them are great, but some are...well, I won't trash-talk my clients. Let's just say that if God gave them an idea, it might be for their own edification, not for sharing. Sometimes, though, a humble writer has an idea that is really good, and they learn as they go. Like you said, the key is humility. Those humble singers on AI probably got as good as they did because they were willing to learn and change. Your book, The Victor, is very well-written, and you've been given many signs of affirmation along the way. If you were delusional about it, your delusion spread to me, too.

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  3. Thanks Kathy! You have no idea how much you sharing my delusion means to me! Honestly...thank you! If nothing else, The Victor has enabled me to make wonderful friends like you all over the country and that has been the greatest blessing!

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