Sunday, July 19, 2009

How About A New TV Show: “So You Think You Can Write”

I’ve been working at my current job in security for about nine months now, and during that time colleagues have slowly found out that I’m a writer with two published books. (They don’t know about all the published short stories, essays, and articles). In terms of security personnel, the site I work at isn’t large. There are perhaps fifty employees in my area and another half dozen on the management team.

During my employment, I’ve discovered four more colleagues who have or are currently writing novels in science fiction, fantasy and even a historical western. Now, given the number of many thousands of books published every year, I’m not surprised that writers are coming out of the woodwork. Nor am I surprised when they ask me how they can publish their books quickly. But that’s when I’m stumped.

I’ve been working at my craft for nearly thirty years. I’ve attended more workshops than I can count. I’ve belonged to critique groups for over fifteen years, and I’m constantly reading to improve my skills. I edit and edit and edit to make the piece the best it can be before publication, and even then mistakes slip by.

Honestly, I try to tell these aspiring writers about the work and the importance of editing (see Pat Bertram’s terrific blog on this topic), but people seem primarily interested in publishing and making money. I try to tell them, without crushing their aspiration, that there are no shortcuts and that it really does take a lot of work. Am I getting through? I don’t know. But it seems to me that every other person I meet these days wants to, or is writing, a novel. In fact, novel writing is so popular that I'm wondering if the TV networks should develop a new contest. So You Think You Can Write! or Canadian Writing Idol! or Canada’s Got Writing Talent!

Contests from all over the country would submit their first twenty pages to qualified judges with celebrity status. Margaret Atwood, for example. I figure the judges could expect about half a million entries. (The other three million wannabes didn’t get their entries in on time or follow guidelines). Then they’d all gather and the judges would critique their work on camera. Naturally, there’d be tears, and unhappy glares from unsuccessful contestants, and there’d be jumping up and down elation for those who made it to the next round. After all, they’d land a free ticket to Saskatoon for the semi-finals. From there, they’ve have to submit fifty more pages from a new work. If they made it through that round, they’d receive a ticket to Toronto for the finals. And on it would go until a winner was declared. The grand prize would be a contract with a Canadian publisher, provided the publisher’s government subsidy isn’t cut this year. And that’s always a big if. Think the concept would fly? I know there are plenty of contestants out there just waiting for their chance to make it big.

To read excerpts of Fatal Encryption and Taxed to Death, visit

Fatal Encryption is available through at and Taxed to Death can be found at

1 comment:

SM Blooding said...

Hey! I know I'd want to participate. Is there some way you'd allow US citizens to participate? LOL!! No. We'd have to get our own So You Think You Can Write, but wouldn't it be cool to have an international one? *frowning* But how in the world would they judge that? That's way too many markets. Okay. I need to quit smoking dope or start sharing, either way.