Though most American Idol wannabes perform in the pop genre, a recent contestant, Scotty McCreery, is an unapologetic country music singer. In a blog post at Powerful Purpose Associates, writer Anthony Fasano says about Scotty,
"...it would be very easy for someone like Scotty to try to sing pop music...to gain popularity votes. However, he refuses to do that! Every single song he sings is either country or he sings it in a country music style."
One can't help but make comparisons to writing. No matter what genre you write in, chances are you've second-guessed yourself, thinking if I were only edgier or safer, more literary or more formulaic, more complex or simpler I'd be more successful. Or you doubt your choice of genre and consider switching from writing personal essays to, say, romance novels because that's what's being published — even though you haven't read a romance in ages and you're really not crazy about them.
Personally I love the world of poetry, have dabbled in it for years and have some very talented poet friends with whom I'm often tempted to compare myself. For example, one of the women in my poetry group won the poetry category of the Surrey International Writers Festival in 2010. She read her piece to us several weeks ago and it blew me away. I could never see myself writing something like that.
Bob Charles in an old Alsop Review article titled "So You Want to Be a Poet" tells aspiring poets (and, I believe, writers of any genre) some of the things that are in store for them as they travel along the road to excellence:
"1. You'll realize that every poem you've ever written up to that point is fatally flawed.
2. You'll realize how awfully far you still have to go.
3. You're going to discover what kind of poet you are. This is not necessarily a joyous discovery...You'll discover what your limitations are. This is definitely not a joyous discovery. You'll realize there are some poems you simply can't write. Not now, not ever. They're beyond your range; beyond your capability."
It all sounds a bit depressing, doesn't it — until one puts it into context. Ephesians 2:10 is a good frame:
"For we are God's own handiwork, His workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew that we may do those good works which God predestined, planned beforehand for us, taking paths which He prepared ahead of time — living the good life which He pre-arranged and made ready for us to live." (Amplified)
In plain words, we don't have the capability or interest to write some things because we were never meant to write them. We won't ever be held accountable for stewarding talents we don't have and opportunities that haven't come our way. But we will want to have done something with what we've been given, whether it's a gift for plotting mysteries, writing cozy devotions, structuring doubt-resistant apologetics, or composing simple poems.
(Hat Tip to N. J. Lindquist for the link to the article "What American Idol Can Teach Us About Career Advancement".)