I like American Idle. At first I thought I was weird but when Rachelle Gardner started saying similar things I felt exonerated in my weirdness. As she says, AI is a metaphor for what writers go through. I see so many parallels between the AI process and the road to publication. But the other thing I appreciate is the critiques themselves. Okay, some times it sounds harsh but let's face it, necessary. I enjoy being involved in critique groups but often stumble at giving sound criticism because I truly do not want to hurt anyone. But AI has taught me how to say things in a way that is honest. When Randy tells a contestant that he's "Just not feeling it." I understand. As writers it is our responsibility to make the reader feel the story. When Simon says, "It's cliched." I understand. I'm not referring exclusively to word choices but to the whole persona of a written piece. Some times the whole story can feel cliched. While it is true that there really is nothing new under the sun there are many, many ways to tell a story so that it won't sound like a cliche. When Paula tells a singer that they haven't worked hard enough and that it takes lots of blood, sweat and tears to make in in the music industry. I understand. Writing is hard. Becoming successful at it is even harder. But hang on to this--great things come from suffering and struggle. I'm convinced that the best writers are the ones that struggle. And when one of the judges sends a hopeful on to the next round I understand. The next round is simply that--the next round. I equate it with getting past the acquisitions editor and onto the editorial board. You still have a ways to go. I don't sing--you wouldn't want me to--trust me--but every so often when one of those young people auditioning sings, I see and hear what the judges d0--a voice with potential. That's what I look for in a writer--voice, song, potential. Talent comes in many varieties but it is all art and, as one of the judges said last night, either you're born with it or not. So here's to AI and all the hopefuls. Here's to all the new writers--may you find your voice.