Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm Goin' to Hollywood, Dawg! -- Eve

As I sit here in my pink jammies at 1:45pm (yes, I said pm) squeezing my brain for ideas on how to make my middle grade book “bigger” and “better,” which is what I promised my agent I would do, I came upon a post by Laura Purdie Salas (from the group blog Wordy Girls) that finally flicked the light bulb on for me.

Her post, “It's a Little Pitchy: How Writing For Kids Is Like American Idol” instantly put everything into perspective. This is a huge breakthrough, as I've spent too many days shuffling around the house, morphing into Johnny Depp's character from Secret Window with my tattered robe, greasy hair, and un-bathed body. I've been talking to myself, napping, walking around outside, and avoiding phone calls and e-mail. Slowly I've become the crazy little reclusive writer lady I always feared becoming. Jack Nicholson in The Shining, Emma Thompson in Stranger Than Fiction, Nick Cage in Adaptation…I feel your pain!!

Back to Laura's post… I, too, am obsessed with American Idol. There. I said it. The fascination for me has always been the psychology-experiment vibe of it all. Take a perfect cross section of America, put them naked on a stage in front of a billion viewers, have them perform in front of those judgmental viewers, pummel them with ridicule and/or praise, and see what happens. But as I read Laura's dissection of American Idol and how it parallels writing for children, I realized that I identify so strongly with these contestants because I am them. Okay, in a different profession, not on a stage, and sans paparazzi stalking me. (Thank God, because no human should have to see me greasy, un-showered, in a tattered robe!)

Read her post and you'll understand what I'm talking about. I'm in the “Top 24/Hollywood Week” category, where my book has made it past the arena audition phase of humiliation among the thousands of wannabes and deluded freaks. I've made it to the pile of writers where everyone has some talent. Now, I've got to stand out without gimmicks, and create a voice and product that's beyond memorable.

After a looong talk with Jay and Robin, and reading Laura's post today, I finally figured it all out. I know exactly how to make it a totally original, kick-ass book! It hit me very suddenly, and all it took was a simple American Idol analogy to bring it all together. (Well, that and a lot of Disco Mermaid support.) Here's hoping to make the “Final 12” in the weeks to come! And I promise not to sing “Do I Make You Proud” if I do. Or maybe I will.

- Eve


Laura Purdie Salas said...

Thanks, Eve! I'm thrilled my babbling actually produced something useful! I've had my own epiphany recently that helped me see my own project's shortcomings more clearly...but no solution (yet). Maybe soon!

Fingers crossed,

Debby G said...

I like the post too.

I published an article in the SCBWI Bulletin last year about what writers can learn from American Idol.

Laura ripped me off!

No, just kidding. She had a different take on it.

Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks for the comments, Laura and Debby! I'm so flattered that the subject of my post is posting a comment to me! I actually think we can all learn a ton about life in general from American Idol.

I'm fascinated by the first rounds of auditions, where every freak on the planet comes out of the woodwork (or a UniBomber cabin) and exhibits an exceptional level of self-confidence. Where is this land of self-belief that they all come from? If we all had that much self-esteem, the world would be a better place. Or at least a wackier place!

Rock on, AI!!


Debby G. said...


That's one thing I said in my article. The auditions the first week are like slush piles. Just like everyone thinks they can sing (except me; I know I have a rotten voice, and my kids reassure me of this fact), everyone thinks they're a good writer, that if they sat down and wrote a book it would be of publishable quality.

The A.I. auditions are like slush piles which contain lots of bad writing, some good writing, and some gems. My early slush submissions were right up there with William Hung's singing. And just like the singers' families and friends all tell them they have good voices, our families and friends tell us we're great writers.

I love A.I., and now I can justify watching it because it helps me learn about writing.

Laini Taylor said...

Your excitement here is awesome, Eve! I'm a new reader to your blog, but I recall vividly seeing your crazy mermaids at the party on the lawn of the Century Plaza Hotel! I haven't linked over to read the post you refer to yet, but I will. I hope your revisions go forward with all the excitement you have here. And, to admit my own shame, I am not an Idol watcher, but something -- ulp! -- WORSE. I am a Top Model watcher. But I must say, after last night's profoundly absured Season 8 opener, I feel like I just might finally be outgrowing my one sordid, shameful escapism. . . but probably not! I just can't watch it with my husband in the room because then I feel the absurdity too acutely to enjoy it in any way! ha ha. Good luck with the writing!

Disco Mermaids said...

Hey Laini and Debby!

Don't tell anyone, but I am a closet "America's Next Top Model" watcher too! I've been completely sucked in since the first season. I have no idea why. My excuse is that these shows give me ideas for such interesting characters. Well, that and when someone acts like a total moron on TV, it makes me feel better about myself. Isn't that why we watch reality TV in the first place?

Thanks for the comments!