Tuesday, 10 November 2009
In the spotlight
I’m a very recent convert to the X factor. We only started watching it as a family because our ten-year-old convinced us he would be a social pariah at school if he wasn’t able to confidently discuss who is in and who left (weeping) over the weekend. I liked to think I was a bit take-it-or-leave-it. But that all changed when Lucie Jones got voted off on Sunday. I finally understood Simon Cowell’s Machiavellian reputation and very much wanted to throw shoes at the telly.
Now there isn’t a huge amount in common between standing on a stage, singing overwrought pop songs, and being a sensitive, shy flower who likes to write stories, but it certainly isn’t without parallels. Whenever you show your work to another person, let alone stick it in an envelope and send it off to an agent or publisher, you’re offering up something from deep inside yourself. It’s like saying, ‘Here is a little part of me, so be nice,’ [I appreciate WB Yeats put it better]. And it can’t be a dissimilar cocktail of resentment, disbelief and hurt to hear someone say, ‘Sorry, love, I just don’t think you’ve got what it takes to go the whole way’ as, ‘we didn’t feel sufficiently inspired by your work to offer you representation.’ Although I have to admit that it’s nicer not having your writing rejections witnessed by millions of people.
Or having to take advice about music from Louis Walsh.
But amidst the disappointment, there is something strangely comforting about seeing the only singer you really rated in the competition being voted off. There really is, it seems, nowt queer as folk. So when an agent says, ‘This was good but it just wasn’t for me,’ it isn’t always code for, ‘It’s rubbish and I hate you, you talentless loser.’ Sometimes, it really was good.It just wasn’t to their taste.
• On the subject of the X Factor, check out YA writer Emily Gale’s brilliant new novel, Girl Aloud, in which tone deaf teenager Kass Kennedy is unwittingly entered for the competition by her manically up-and-down dad.