Our family has watched American Idol since Season 3 or so. Usually we ignore all the audition rounds and pick up somewhere in the middle of Hollywood Week, when the school of fish is filtered so only the brightest, prettiest, and most talented remain. They have huge talent—and bigger courage, exposing themselves to the merciless critiques of four industry pros and, eventually, millions of American viewers.
This season, I’ve watched with new eyes. I see the performances and, more importantly, the performers’ reactions to critique, with new understanding. Because recently, I too have been judged.
Through a divinely inspired series of circumstances, my work was placed in front of the Randy Jackson of literary agents. He is respected, successful, and tremendously honest.
And, to my shock and awe, he gave me a “Yo dawg”—the highest praise. “Amazing,” “effective,” and “humane” (which I’m assuming doesn’t mean “kind to animals”) were his exact words.
And he wants me to write a book.
Seriously. A book.
You have to understand: this doesn’t happen in the literary world. Usually, writers have to bust their tails to build experience and a reader base—which translates into thousands of blog followers and hundreds of comments—just to get a meeting with an agent. A writer cannot publish a word without an agent, unless she delves into the murky world of self-publishing. Having an agent is crucial to a writing career. Getting one requires more work and ambition than I am capable of.
Which is why I was drowning myself in a pit of self-loathing a few weeks ago. I know. I’m embarrassed. And I apologize for subjecting you to my pathetic despair. I had to tromp through the muck of my own self-doubt before I could reach a point of contentment. Writing is what God has told me to do, so I must do it, regardless of how many poor souls read my words.
I gave up, in the sense that I released all my expectations of a blossoming, successful career. I was wholly satisfied with knowing my work, although small in scope, was important and meaningful and full of purpose. At the moment of my release, I believe God chuckled. Finally, He must have thought. Now we’re getting somewhere. Okay. Let’s roll…
And once again, He tapped His holy baton, caught the eyes of all the musicians, and the symphony began.
Through circumstances aptly summarized in one word (CRAZY), I received SuperAgent’s request for my resume. I laughed. And then I panicked. I haven’t had a resume in sixteen years. On paper, I don’t amount to much. At least in the publishing world. But I scraped together the scant crumbs of my writing experience and sent them to his inbox, fully expecting a swift dismissal from this highly skeptical professional.
Guess what. He likes me. He really likes me. “Amazing … effective … humane.” Crazy.
And the story I’m about to tell is huge. Miraculous. Awe-inspiring. Courage-giving. I’ll be ghostwriting the medical miracle of my friend, Erika, and her journey—both physical and spiritual—through leukemia and an umbilical cord stem cell transplant. She shouldn’t be alive. In fact, she met Jesus. But she came back to us so we could hear her story, be inspired by her life, her courage, and her faith.
And I have the honor of sculpting her words on a page so the world will know.
I watched the American Idol judges critique Curtis Finch, Jr.’s performance later that week.
You ooze everything good and light and godly and whole and positive and … you just have so much hope in you, and we need so much of that.
This is bigger than ‘American Idol’ to me … What you do—when you make people feel good, when you make people feel powerful…that’s something that was given to you by somebody else, a higher power … you have a calling on your life to bless people and to do so much good. That’s what people need, there are people hurting out there.
Thank you for that performance … that was what I needed in my life right now… Every single thing you said…you made me feel like ‘thank you that Curtis is here tonight.’
And I watched Curtis’ face as he absorbed their praise. I understood.
I understood how hard he had worked, how many times he put himself on a stage and shared his gift, how often he pocketed the compliments of friends, family, and fans—but still wondered if he had what it takes for commercial success. I understood how he wanted his life, his gift, to make the world better, less painful, more joyous.
I understood, in that moment, how deeply he felt the words of these judges. Randy Jackson, for crying out loud. Mariah FRIGGIN Carey?! She’s saying these flattering words…about me?
Even if Curtis is voted off, even if this book is never published, we both had a moment when Very Important People affirmed what we had suspected, what we had been told before:
You have a gift. And it matters.
And that is enough.
Of course, I hope that the book is picked up by a major publisher and skyrockets to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I really think it could. SuperAgent wouldn’t be willing to take on this project and guide two clueless women through the process if he didn’t think it could. It’s a great story, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Even if I’m crazy.