A Lesson from America’s Next Top Model?

Each lily is beautiful in its own way...

America’s Next Top Model is a guilty pleasure of mine and last week’s episode provided a very teachable moment.

The set up: Three models won the opportunity to compete to win a better prize — the chance to be in an actual campaign for high-end handbags.

Now, of course, (it’s reality TV)  one of these models for various reasons, some earned, some not, is intensely disliked by the other two.

The first model (the disliked) goes up and poses with the bags. (The whole time it’s clear even without a voice over that the second model is is thinking not-nice thoughts about the first)

The second model takes her turn. After the third model goes, they cut to the designer who speaks about who she thought did the best and who she was going to choose.

She says the first one was magnificent and so was the second, and that she would have chosen the second, but she noticed the second model during the first’s turn making faces and just not carrying herself with the poise she expects from someone representing her brand.

In other words, the second model was so worried about the first model instead of herself, she lost out on a fantastic opportunity!

What does this have to do with writing? Everything! So much of writing is mental. We look around and see so and so did this and so and so made this list or has a new contract and we fall into the trap of not focusing on what we can control — ourselves.

This business is so rough and capricious that even if we do everything right we might still not sell or sell as much as others. Luck is a huge part of it, not only landing on the editors desk, but landing there at the right time.

As my mom used to say, “Don’t worry about your sister, worry about yourself.”

Make a plan. Set a goal and stick to it. Give yourself a deadline. Let others in on your plan, so they know you treat writing as the business it is and good luck!

Cross your fingers for me, too while your at it. 🙂


Who you calling “low?”

“How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak. I am not yet so low but that my nails can reach unto thine eyes?”

Hermia to Helena A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3.2.289)


While reading Twitter, I came upon a link to a blog and in it, said blogger was ripping apart an actress from a TV show he admires. (Because, you know, cattiness passes as wit these days.)

He went on to say that this actress’s next project was in a superhero movie, so and I quote …”now fans of low culture can see how it feels when she ruins one of their favorite characters too!” End quote.

Low culture?  I sat there for a moment, stunned. First of all, I thought maybe he’s not being derogatory, perhaps this is a term that can be used in a non-pejorative  sense. But after reminding myself of the exact meaning through Wikipedia,


( from Wikipedia: “Low culture is a term for some forms of popular culture. Its opposite is high culture. It has been said by culture theorists that both high culture and low culture are subcultures.

Reality television, popular music, escapist fiction, Kitsch, slapstick, camp, toilet humor, yellow journalism, pornography, and exploitation films are often cited examples of low culture.”)

I realized he did intend the term as a slam.And as an author of escapist fiction, I was part of a despised — majority.

I pondered his hypocrisy for a moment. The object of his blog was  a TV show! (Which he considered High culture I presume.)

Next, I thought, High and low culture? How last century! Are we in 2011 still bound by terms as archaic as the class system? I was in high (low?) dudgeon by this point.

And then I remembered  that panderer to the unwashed masses, Shakespeare and decided I am perfectly happy to stand with the low.

What do you think? Should these terms still be in use? Should Mr. Blogger be tarred and feathered?



Should we review sub-genres we don’t like?


I don't remember adding those last two items.

I would argue that reviewers should not.

Why not? Here’s my reasoning.

I could review literary fiction. I’m qualified. I have a bachelors in English as a writing art. I understand the conventions of literary fiction. I’m versed in its themes and structure.

However, since I don’t *like* those conventions, I would bemoan the lack of plot, the passive actions of the characters and the use of language which draws attention to the words and not the story.  I would, in short, criticize the very aspects of the work that readers of literary fiction enjoy, while ignoring the qualities potential readers need to know to make the decision to buy.

Recently, I read a review of a book in which the reviewer stated from the first paragraph that she was uncomfortable with the sub-genre of the book. That for whatever reason, she was too distracted by the conventions of the sub-genre  to “get in” to the book.

At the end, the review was fairly positive, but this overlying factor, the reviewer’s personal bias, made it very difficult for a reader of the review to get a good sense of whether it was worthwhile to read the book or not, and that after all is the whole point of a review.

I’m not trying to say reviewers aren’t at liberty to give a bad review. If we, as readers are to trust reviewers, they must be honest in their opinions,  but reviewing in a genre we don’t like does a disservice to both us and the reader. The reviewer loses the time spent reading the book and writing the review and the reader is exactly where she started before she read the review.

What do you think? Should we review sub-genres were don’t like?