The Karaoke Writer

I’m offering this post as part of my October submission to Alex J. Cavanaughs Insecure Writers Support Group.

Ever wander into a bar/pub/club/coffee house/party, where a karaoke contest was being held? I’ve been to several and I must say they’re fascinating. What’s so interesting is the types of people who take part in such events. Naturally the bulk of contestants are phase shifted (i.e. drunk or otherwise influenced) and really test the audiences patience. Men and women alike brutalize classic songs by utilizing notes never intended to be included and change the lyrics even though scrolling prompters have them displayed, all the while attempting to make up for what they lack in vocal range by doing their best Mick Jagger with a microphone impression. Not a pretty site! Then there are those who manage to sound better than they actually are because they’ve happen to choose one of your favorites songs, and let’s face it, you’re slightly inebriated yourself. But the ones that make the evening are the ones that really stand out, the singers who after just one chorus hush even the most boisterous crowd and ends up eliciting a standing ovation. Those are the performers who make you think of a quote from an old Billy Joel song (Piano Man) “man what are you doin here?” Not only do they ultimately end up taking home the prize money, but also add an aire of magic to the evening because everyone goes away feeling like they’ve just discovered the next diamond in the rough. Those are the karaoke singers…that as a writer… I wonder about.

What do I wonder about? I ask myself, what is the difference between this person and somebody like an American Idol contestant, or the lead singer of that new band I just found on some internet music site? The talent is clearly there, so what is it that separates the person standing before me on this make-shift stage in a cruise ship karaoke bar, pretending to be a performer…and that actual artist doing whatever it takes to achieve success in the music business? Is the difference drive? Determination? Do they not realize how talented they are? Maybe it’s a matter of priorities, or lack of connections, or they’re using these contests to hone their craft? Or is it possible that this person is perfectly content shining brightly on a small stage? So many possible explanations, all of them just as feasible.

Why do I give them so much consideration, and why should you? Because we write novels and tell stories, and most of us ask ourselves what separates us from our published colleagues. I believe I have a talent. My own stage consists of all the friends, family, CP’s and Beta readers who’ve read my work, the only exception being that I perform all original material. But I’m not content pretending, and I bet neither are you. Sure, there are those where the goal of publication is not a motivator, taking pleasure in the writing itself, and there is nothing wrong with that.

For the rest of us, however, let it be known that we are NOT karaoke writers!

22 comments

  1. Great comparison! Lots of food for thought here...thanks, DL!!

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  2. Interesting comparison. I've never looked at it that way! Publication is definitely a motivator for me...but more importantly, I write out of a love for the art of words. Yes, I want to be published. I will continue to strive for that. But...if I didn't write out of love, I don't think I'd write at all.

    Thanks for the post though. As Nicole said, definitely food for thought!

    BTW, I have NEVER sang Karaoke!

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  3. I've never been to a Karaoke bar nor have I ever heard a comparison be made like this before. Wow, super. I do try to write for publication but I also have to write for myself.

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  4. Do you know what I like about you Don?

    You're easy to relate to and easy to like. Even though I've never met you, I get the sense that I actually know you.

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  5. I agree with Nicole~ great food for thought. I've never been to a place with live karaoke, but if I do, now I'll be thinking about writing (strangely enough). Thanks for the post!

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  6. Interesting post, DL! You always come up with great analogies that get us thinking.

    Take care...:)

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  7. Never thought about it that way, but any creative effort is kind of like that. Good point.

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  8. Excellent analogy! If I'd done more Karaoke with my writing, I never would've pursued it though. I just tried to write the best story possible with the goal of getting it published without ever testing my writing abilities anywhere else.

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  9. I agree, we all like to think we're good, though some writers are better than others.

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  10. Excellent analogy, good sir. Enough said :)

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  11. Great comparison. Maybe I should just stick with being the local karaoke star. haha.

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  12. Such a wonderful comparison. Kind of makes you look at the superstars getting the shine and wonder why someone you just met with top-notch writing hasn't become one of them. Will they become one? Do they even care?

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  13. Such a great post! Love visiting your blog!

    Lola x
    http://lola-x.blogspot.com

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  14. This comparison rings so true for me. I think Stephen King says that the difference between talented writers and published ones is hard work. Writing can be just fun and enjoyable, but I guess if you truly want the entire package, it's going to take some sweat. (and maybe some singing lessons, lol!)

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  15. ooh, fun post! I definitely think it has to do with drive, and really wanting it. Probably those people enjoy singing and can do it well, but don't actually want to put in the time and effort to actually do something with that talent.

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  16. ahh karaoke and writing. I don't think I've ever seen these two mashed together... :D But it's a great metaphor! Persistence. Thanks, DL~ :o) <3

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  17. I identify with this on so many levels! Your word picture paints it so well.

    I read Laini Taylor's book this weekend (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) that left me feeling all insecure about my writing because she silences me with the beauty she weaves in words. But I won't let that stop me; I'll rise to the occasion to be a better writer. Thanks for this post.
    My Blog

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  18. What a perfect analogy!!! I REALLY hope I'm not a karaoke writer -- I want to publish! Not just make an ass of myself on a stage! :) but like you said, how do we know if we have talent? Do we really want to know?

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  19. All the talent in the world doesn't matter if the drive is absent.

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  20. Karaoke always elicits a groan in our house (but we are a family of musicians).

    This is a great comparison though. Next time I hear karaoke, I'm going to be thinking about writing.

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  21. Great post, DL! I'm a subscriber to the 10% inspiration/90% perspiration school, but certainly you need both to be a big success. How a writer defines success is also important.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post! :D

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