Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Patience learned from Kelly Clarkson

Even if you don't watch American Idol, chances are you've heard the newest release from Kelly Clarkson. If not, take a second and watch her live performance here. In fact, even if you've heard the song 20 million times, watch the live performance. Just trust me on this one.

First...a little background info

Kelly won American Idol back in 2002. Quick math, that was 14 years ago. She put out six albums before releasing Piece by Piece, which debuted at #1.

This song is gut-wrenching. It's raw, personal, and highly emotional. It also differs in that the rhythms are slightly less than traditional and many of the lines don't even attempt to rhyme, instead focusing on the message of the words.

Piece by Piece details the hurt Kelly experienced as a child and the healing she's gone through as an adult since her marriage in 2012 and the birth of her first child in 2014.

Timing is crucial for creatives

I'm telling you all of this so you'll understand how long Kelly waited to release this song.

This isn't a new emotion for her. This isn't a song she just whipped up one night.  Clarkson wrote this song when the time was right for both her and her audience.

As talented as she is, I don't think she could have pulled off a song like this back in 2002 or even 2010. She waited until she had developed her voice. Not just her singing voice, but her storyteller voice (yep, songwriters need that and yes, Kelly co-wrote this song).

Timing matters in building your audience, too

She also had to wait for her audience to be ready. As a newer performer, Kelly had to focus on giving the fans what they wanted. She gave them songs they could sing and dance to and built her fan base up to the level it is now.

This isn't isolated to just Clarkson. Queen Bey (all hail) had the same amazing patience in releasing her Lemonade album. She gave the fans all the club tunes they could ever want (you should sing All the Single Ladies and do the dance now, because I know you know it). Then once we all fell in love with her, she released the music that spoke to her soul.

You aren't ready to write all the stories

So what does this mean for us writers. It means there are stories we aren't ready to write yet. Some of them are too big for us. We need to work out our fingers and find our voices  in order to tell the story the way it deserves. I have a story like this. It's nothing more than an idea that floats around my head. I haven't written one word of it on paper, not even the wisp of the thought. I'm not ready to write it yet. I'm not strong enough in my craft. Someday I hope to get there and the story will wait for me. We need to have the patience of Clarkson and Beyonce to wait until we're ready for some stores to be told the right way.

Your audience might not be ready either

We also need to wait for our audiences. I'm not saying you can't write hard hitting stories. In fact, those are the ones that most resonate with readers. What I'm saying is that you should save the experimental, not what anyone was expecting type of stories for later in your career.

One of my favorite King novels is The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I won't spoil it if you haven't read it yet, but it's a deviation from standard horror. But as much as I love it, I don't think it would have done well earlier in King's career. He needed to start with demonic dogs and possessed cars, because that's what the genre and the readers demanded. Once he established his fan base and his prowess as an author, he could branch out into books that didn't fit in the mold.

Write with her heart and your head

I'm a fan of the advice that you should write the book that your heart demands be written. However, authors need to also have an awareness of their own skill level and their reader expectations. When you finally write the book the pushes you the most as an artist you want to make sure both you and your readers are ready for its awesomeness.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a moving video, and what wonderful advice you shared as well.
    ke

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