I’d long been an avid cynic of reality TV shows such as X Factory, Pop Idle, Big Brooder, (disparaging mis-spellings intentional) et al, citing them as simple ratings magnets that were all hype and no substance.
I’d avoid them like the cliche, eschewing Saturday night television altogether, tutting at the oft-hyped results and the acres of tabloid coverage they seemed to generate.
But little by little, weekend visits to a friend’s house resulted in the television (which seemed to have no ‘off ‘ function) drawing my eye and ear towards the (often hapless) auditionees on ’X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ every Saturday night.
I found myself becoming intrigued, for no reason that I could fathom. I didn’t know these people, these fame-seeking wannabes (only some of whom were quietly talented and later became successful) and yet I found myself increasingly drawn into their stories as they inched their way towards the stars. I followed them from their earliest beginnings. I saw their spotlight-dazzled faces as they shuffled reluctantly onto an over-large stage to croak out a few nervous bars of their favourite song. And then I watched their eyes light up as the crowd called out its approval.
But why was I watching this IQ-sapping drivel; this thinly-disguised attempt to solicit viewers (and before you mentally compose hate-mail, please let me finish), this apparent waste of valuable writing time?
It suddenly became clear to me when I unexpectedly became hooked on yet another reality TV show – Masterchef.
Hooked? Why? I know nothing about food. I can barely make mashed potato or an edible cheese sauce. To this day I am still able to slide rock-hard frozen food onto a microwave platter with only a basic idea of why it emerges twenty minutes later as a hot, steaming meal. I have no aspirations to create Langoustine consommé with lemon tuiles and pea puree, or to begin experimenting with molecular gastronomy (although liquid Nitrogen does look like a wonderful toy).
The chemistry of food defies my kind of logic. It’s a pleasure to eat, true, but the assembly is an alien process to me and most likely will forever remain that way.
But there I was, week after fascinated week, watching untrained but enthusiastic amateurs, their fumbling fingers creating elegantly-assembled dishes of confit duck on a bed of celeriac mash to Michelin-class standards. But why? In the name of the knife, fork and spoon, why??
Then it finally clicked. The title of this post says it all. It was about the journey.
We aspiring writers have very similar goals to those clumsy cooks, those shaking singers, those jittering jugglers. We are all on the same journey of self-discovery - with the hope of our own selves being discovered. Or our work, at least.
I realised that by watching these rising stars gain new skills and achieve undreamed-of heights, my thoughts were paralleling their journey with my own aspirations, because I hoped that I would also (one day) experience a similar journey.
My mind had latched onto these stories in an unconscious act of self-preparation.
It may be that every individual who achieved the final three of Masterchef, X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent has already inspired me; proved to me that it IS possible to lift our (literary) voices from behind the background noise of society enough to be heard.
Ordinary mortals like us can achieve great things. But it takes time. It takes a measure of confidence. But it can require a good measure of encouragement from our peers too.
It is perhaps because of all of this that I am mentally prepared for the next step of ePublishing, the quiet, stealthy equivalent of seeing my work in Bookers or Waterstones. I dare to touch my toe to the chill waters of public consumption and say to them ‘nibble on that,’ whilst thinking ‘pleasedon’tbite, pleasedon’tbite!’
The journey from ‘I could write a book’ through ‘could I write a book?’ to ‘I have written a book’ is moving forward. Who was it that said; ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’?
But where is your journey taking you? How far have you already come?
Have you been inspired by stories of success or sheer determination?
Have you watched others climbing the ladder towards success, feeling that your journey was headed the same way?
Do you feel (particularly with ePublishing opening up new possibilities) that the impossible is now possible?
Share your story with us. Tell us where your journey is taking you.
Write on - and encourage others to do the same in every way that you can.