The Karaoke Writer - Revisted


This is a re-post of a blog I wrote years ago.

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 happened 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 air 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.  I’m not content pretending.  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. But for the rest of us, let's make it be known that we are NOT karaoke writers!    

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