American Writer?

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by Sheila Pierson

I love watching American Idol and quite frankly became of fan of X Factor, as well. There’s something about the drama of hopeful singers, good or bad, standing in front of a celebrity panel of judges vying for a music contract worth millions of dollars that I shamelessly enjoy.

It got me thinking about what would happen if there were an equivalent program for writers, with a lucrative publishing contract worth millions of dollars for the winner.

Maybe it could be called “Writer Wars” or “Pen Punisher” or something ridiculous along those lines.

How would it work? Who would judge? Better question, who the hell would watch it? Writers are an odd lot collectively to begin with and yet as individualized as they come. Some have quirky habits, rituals and idiosyncrasies that must be accomplished before the writing can begin – non-writers call this procrastination. Will an audience sit through edited snippets of writers chewing their pencils, playing solitaire on the computer, and jamming out to their favorite music before buckling down to actually write something? Doubtful.

Some writers forge ahead at lightning speed, returning to their work for edits the next day. Others allow the work to “sit” for a week or even or month or longer before coming back to it with fresh eyes, making corrections and adjustments. This could make for a difficult taping schedule.

Of course, there is the question of genre. In music, there is country, R&B, opera, rap, rock, blues, jazz, folk, religious, etc. Writing is no different and yet it is. There are genres and sub-genres. In the realm of these two headings, so much diversity reigns I will not list them here. And that brings us back to judging.

If there is a panel of 3 to 4 judges, they had better be widely read and exceptionally accomplished. They need to be dynamic enough to dramatize “the perfect way in which author #73 drives his exceptional plot to the finish line” and equally able to point out “the horrendous overuse of adverbs by an obvious novice who doesn’t deserve to have a pen in his hands.” Whoa, did someone find a grouchy judge to work the panel? Not sure how that will go over.

After thinking this through, I’m not sure an audience and quite sure writers aren’t ready for this kind of reality programming… or are they?

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