Tuesday, May 17

Rock on, James!

Fourth round and eliminated.


James Durbin should have won American Idol. He was a clear favorite from the beginning, "giving metal a chance" on the show. But last week, on Thursday night, James was eliminated, not only to his shock, but the shock of millions of his fans around the world.

Including me.

I sat in stunned disbelief when his name was called as the singer on the bottom, the one going home. Seventy-two million votes, and he hadn't received enough to keep him alive. We watched as his career came crashing down around his ears.

His rendition of Love Potion and Don't Stop Believin' hadn't been enough to keep him in the competition.

Not good enough. Out. Better luck next time.

When I lamented his exit on the show in a Facebook post, a friend commented that his career was on track now.

Another friend commented not to worry, that the cream always rises to the top.

No, no it doesn't.

The truth is that the cream sometimes sinks to the bottom. In music, and more importantly, to those of us who write, sometimes the best or the deserving don't always win. Or publish.

The facts are there are many, many talented writers out there who aren't "rising to the top." I can think, just offhand, of at least a dozen writers who should be on bookshelves as we speak, but for whatever reason have not sold yet. It isn't for a lack of talent, or drive. I read a post from an unpublished author who recently said she'd trade her seventeen contest wins for one publisher who believes in her. She, like so many of the talented, yet unpublished, haven't gotten their break or found the right publisher . . . yet.

I saw James Durbin on the Today show this morning, and he had regained his faith and his spirit. The singer I so admired on American Idol was back, and excited about his music career. It reaffirmed what I already know...that like James, so my writing friends' talent is undeniable, and although they have may have been knocked down...they're not out.

Rock On!


  1. I'm going to take the position I do with my family--which they get annoyed with.
    But. James' career is probably MUCH better off for making it as far as he has, but not getting locked into the Idol contract for the next year. That contract is for a cool million$, but hey... I think Daughtry made lots more than that without winning. I also think Jordin Sparks has earned oodles more than Taylor Hicks (I believe she "lost" to him in the finale). David Archuletta has definitely earned more from his teenie fans than David Cook has, even though Cook "won". The exposure of the show--getting in the top 12 or so--is the real "prize" of American Idol. Someone like James is most certainly going forward with his career.
    Now, someone like Haley... she's got an interesting voice, but her style is more blues, and less mainstream, so I think she'd be better off winning that 1 year Idol contract.
    If either Lauren or Scotty gets the boot this week, I've no doubt we'll see them in the top 100 within 6 months. And James will certainly be there, too.

    As for writers... well. We all take our careers in different directions. Sometimes it's the right way, and sometimes it's the wrong way. Impossible to know ahead of time if each choice we make will be the best one. Did I make a mistake by taking my books to smaller publishers in order to get my career going somewhere, rather than waiting to score "the big one"? Maybe. Only time will tell. For all I know, I could still be sitting around waiting for that big contract in 20 years. Then again, maybe I've pigeonholed myself by starting out small. Only time will tell...
    For me, it was simply a matter of not being able to sit on my hands and wait. I needed to be proactive and do something to move forward. Really, the only people who unquestionably are NOT doing the right thing to help their careers, are the ones who are doing nothing at all but writing and not trying to get it contracted anywhere--with an agent or a publisher.

  2. I was shocked as well and vowed not to watch the rest of the season at all. After thinking about it, I realized that James has had the publicity from the show and the ability to showcase all the wonderful things he can do with not only his voice but his stage presense and I beileve he will be a major star. He didn't win the show and the record deal that comes with it, but he has won many fans and some other (maybe better) record deal will come along.
    As for writers out there that should be published but haven't. I am hopeful the new age of e-books and self publishing avenues will make it possible for that cream to rise to the top as well. I agree that there are many who should be published and are not, sadly I also think there are a few who shouldn't have been published but have.
    Great blog.

  3. I have it all recorded and haven't seen it in months. Got to watch them! So behind on that.

  4. April~
    You have some very thought provoking comments. I think you're probably right, that James's career is going to take off now. I hope so.

    The truth is, in writing, that you can be proactive all day long, and not sell.

    Talent or drive doesn't always matter. Sometimes it's just a lot of luck.

  5. Excellent blog. I was right there with you when James's name was announced as being the idol who received the least amounts of votes. Shocked doesn't even begin to describe what I was feeling. Anger--yep. Saddness--yep, complete and utter disbelief--yep. But I'm holding onto my hope that he will become a big star--I know in my heart he will!

  6. Hi, Angie!
    I agree with you.
    It boggles my mind when I read CPs' work or contest entries that are so much better than some published works.
    But the field is getting bigger, and that's good for all of us.

  7. I know, Brenda.

    We were sobbing together. LOL

    I hope that kid gets his break.

  8. I'm not an AI fan. I know, probably the last person in the universe not to like it. But I sooo agree with your post. In the long run, it's going to depend on what James does from this point on - he can go home and sing in bars as an AI contestant or he can take that momentum to a record company in LA or NY...depends on him.

    The same goes with all of us, I think. We can take a contest win (or loss) and sock it away or examine what brought about the win (or loss), make changes and move forward. I'm working hard lately on moving forward...and hoping a little luck comes my way, too. :)

  9. Getting published reminds me of when I was trying to get pregnant. You see all these fertile myrtles who can't take care of themselves having babies left and right, but for some of those who could care for a child they have a harder time. It's not fair. It's just life but we don't have to accept defeat. As the hero in my first MS, Avant says, "The difference between sucess and failure is the direction of your will. It is always too soon to admit defeat."
    Ask Chris Daughtry who was also eliminated 2 weeks before the finals. He has gone on to be the most successful male performer from the shows 10 seasons.

    Hug, D'Ann. Great post.

  10. I so agree D'Ann. That young man is an amazing artist. I'm not a rocker, heavy metal, heck I like country and not much else. But that boy was beyond anything I've seen on the show. He'll go far regardless of what Idol could do for him, and on his own merit...and I'll be there watching him rise. I so get the writing correlation, I know one specific writer friend, Anna, she should have been published ages ago, and I'm sorry there is NO FLIPPIN REASON on the face of this planet for me to understand why she's not. I love her genius mind. Her stories would make some of the most awesome movies, much better than the crap coming out of Hollywood these days. I'll keep hoping and praying for Anna and James as they both deserve to walk their perspective red carpets with pride.

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  12. If you recall, Chris Daughtry left in the same week. Did it damage his career? Hardly.
    The big names from AI, the ones who have sold the most, made most of a splash, aren't always the winner. Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson - none of them won the competition, but it didn't matter.
    AI will be dead in a couple of years, anyway. X Factor will knock it down, and it was getting tired. I won't bother watching the rest of the series, because it's all boring from now on. I don't care about any of the contestants who are left. Children, and far too samey.
    For real talent, watch this:
    Would he have won AI? Then look at the views the video has and look up the band, if you don't know them. Currently one of the biggest bands on the planet. And the best, IMO!
    I'm not sure you can compare that to writing, except in specific competitions. And there are many different ways to the top in writing, there isn't one way and there never has been. I write for epubs exclusively, and I was recently shocked to learn that I earn more than many of my "traditionally" published colleagues. I'm also British, but I found that the British market didn't suit what I write. If you write well, then there's a market for you somewhere. You just need to find it.

  13. Kristina!
    Not an Idol fan???
    Damn, girl, you just broke my heart.
    You're right, you can lay down and die after a contest crushes you, music or writing, or you can get up, dust yourself off and get back on the pony.
    I get back on the pony...again.

  14. Hi, Kary!
    Love Avant's words. Perfect.

  15. Lynne~
    Too cool to see you here. Thank you.
    I don't know if Idol will die in a year or two. It keeps getting more viewers every year. Time will tell, I guess.
    I do agree with you, Lynne, that there are more avenues opening up, and that is fantastic!

  16. Here is my two cents worth... I work with a woman whose son-in-law won 'battle of the bands' a couple of years ago. It was fun wtaching them on tv but the reailty is once you win they own your ass, and that million dollars you win actully goes twoard all the promotion costs and what not to tour for the next year. They soon realized teh guys who had it made were the ones who didn't win but got lots of exposure. Their contracts are of a shorter duration so they are free to move on to the next opertunity while they are still hot. As a writer not yet published my take on this is...keep going no matter what, win, lose or draw. If you throw enough spegetti at the wall eventually something is going to stick. Brenda L

  17. Well, D'Ann, I'm about to break your heart too... I'm not an Idol fan either, I haven't watched it since Carrie Underwood won...Not because she won (I love Carrie and even voted for her) but because I got bored with the show.

    I loved your ideas about writing. It's so true that there are a lot of writers out there who should be pubbed and aren't, just as there are those who are and shouldn't be. This business is so subjective, and today's economy so not conducive to people having extra money to buy books. But I do believe there are other avenues out there. I would love to be traditionally pubbed, but if it doesn't happen, I'll turn to the e-book market and hopefully it will happen there. I'm not a big fan of self-pubbing, but I'll never say never either.

    I will say this though, I'm beginning to think that the traditional market is shooting itself in the foot. And here's why I think this. For instance, the rejection letter I just received from an agent-submitted work basically said that I should write a cliched plot that has been done to death. I took a new twist on the secret-baby plot and the editor hated it. I've also heard of best-selling writers who are turning to self-pubbing because their traditional publishers have them pigeonholed and they can't write the books of their hearts. My own experience with my agent (D'Ann know what I'm talking about) and the direction she'd like to see my career is a prime example. She'd like me to write something I don't even read, just because that market is hot right now.

    The e-book market, at least for now, seems to be more open and allows more flexibility. And I've read some awesome e-books that make me scratch my head in wonderment as to why the author couldn't sell traditionally. But then again, they don't fit a pigeonhole. The writer steps outside that box and that's not allowed.

    Opps, that kind got off topic and is very long...Sorry!

    Hugs, my friend!

  18. Yep. Not an AI fan either. Don't even know who they are--but I do agree that the truly talented from the show seem to do better than most of the "winners".

  19. Great post, D'Ann! I don't watch American Idol, but I totally agree with you about all the talented writers out there who are unpubbed. Out of those, probably a handful will ever see traditional publishing (just my opinion, could be wrong). Talent and drive is only part of the equation. Luck, timing, and heaven knows what else determines the other part. That makes for a very tricky formula!

  20. Missed AI last week. Got tired if it. I've switched to mainly reading e-books myself. There are still some really good traditionally published books out there, but for the most part the books are just that. Traditional. I like the unexpected, finding the story that hasn't been done to death. I usually find it in an e-book. That's also the type of story I try to write.

  21. Hi, Brenda L!
    Love that analogy!

  22. Sara~
    A lot to consider. I have always thought trad pubs were the way to go. What I don't like about e-pubbing (sorry, friends)! is the constant state of promotion that seems to be necessary to sell in it. If I am wrong, I absolutely stand corrected. And apologize. I know, I know. Authors are going to tell me that everyone has to promo, even the big NY names.
    I do like e-pubbing is more friendly to the non-trad plot. Which I tend to write.

  23. Margie!
    You just broke my heart a little more! hehehehe
    I don't know if it's the truly talented, but they do have a good track record of 2nd place winners going on to do good stuff.

  24. Hi, Lisa!
    I agree with you. I think in this day and age, that only a few will break into trad pubbing.

  25. Shawn!
    I can't believe you missed the James exit night. It was rough, lady.
    You have a good story, one which I can totally see fitting in a non-trad publisher. Did you ever finish those revisions, btw?

  26. Revisions all finished and resubbed. In wait mode now.

  27. I don't watch A I. I don't watch TV at all anymore--always at the computer writing. Because you are exactly right, D'Ann. It's not always about talent, but about determination and drive. Do what you have to do to make it happen. Because you don't always get what you deserve. Great post, D'Ann.

  28. Thanks for coming by, Jenna. Appreciate it.

  29. Got my fingers crossed, Shawn!

  30. I'll echo Piper. James will do just fine - lots of the not quite winners from Idol have flourished. And I truly believe that if a writer deserves to be published and works hard, they'll find a way. 17 contest wins do not a fabulous completed manuscript make - rather, they can turn into a crutch. Not always (so I don't get my head bitten off), but contests aren't the same as publication. Write, hone, and throw your manuscript and every possible outlet, and if it is good enough, it'll get out there! And if it isn't good enough, you'll have learned something from the process, and your next one will be even better!!!!!!!