I’ll admit I get teary-eyed every time I watch this video. And a lot of people have had the same reaction. What’s not to love? A gorgeous rendition of a haunting aria, a shy young lady braving the limelight and bringing the audience to its feet, and – miracle of miracles – Simon Cowell rendered speechless.
Cowell, the famous (infamous?) creator of the global “Got Talent” amateur talent show franchise, usually plays the role of the cranky critic who’s seen it all, especially after fellow judge Howie Mandell gushes over an act. “America’s Got Talent” features hopeful performers from the US and abroad, and in their efforts to impress the judges, they often rely on the more approachable Mandell for support. But little Darci appears to have dazzled the fearsome Simon Cowell as well.
As if all that wasn’t enough, there are solid principles for the writing craft on display here, too. Watch the video, dab your eyes with tissue if you need to, and read on. Darci Lynne Farmer might be only 14, but she has something to say to all aspiring writers – and maybe some reminders for old pros who’ve fallen into a slump.
1 – Never stop growing. Darci brought the house down in the America’s Got Talent competition two years ago with a soulful rendition of “Summertime.” But when she made it to the competition’s Champions round, she didn’t fall back on safe show tunes; instead, she tackled one of the more demanding pieces in opera. Listen to the range of notes she hits in that piece. That took both nerve and lots of practice. Lots.
We have to practice, too. We should scribble constantly. Ever notice how pro basketball players work on their free throws at every opportunity? If the best basketball players in the world have to continue to sharpen basic skills, so do we.
Of course, the best way to keep growing is to challenge yourself. What better cure for writer’s block than to spit on both hands, take up your pen like a sword, and start writing in a wild and dangerous new direction? Novelists, have you dared to try your hand at flash fiction? The discipline of concentrating your passion and insight into a thousand words or less will trim your prose of excess fat, and maybe even add some muscle to your next work in progress.
Hey, short story writers! Have you tried writing poetry? That’s a discipline that’ll really get you to learn word economy.
2 – Own your work. Darci didn’t have a ventriloquist teacher. She taught herself how to “throw” her voice. Writers must also be their own teachers. Workshops and courses are fine, but the only way to improve your writing is to read a lot and write a lot. Do you have an idol you want to emulate? Fine, use a famous author as a role model, but after a few thousand words, you’ll find your own voice. Only then will you own your work.
And like Darci, writers have to invest their emotions in their creations. Face what you fear and write about it. Figure out what you love and let it move you to capture it in words. Put all of your rage and all of your love into every piece you put your name on. That piece you’re working on must contain your soul.
Darci brought her “lucky” dummy to the competition, a rabbit named Petunia. When asked why she brought that particular prop, Darci responded, “She is a diva and she likes to win.”
Who do you think Darci was REALLY talking about? A cloth rabbit? I’d say she described a shy but determined Darci Lynne Farmer. Writers tend to be a bit bashful as well, and “talk” through their creations – but only after they’ve invested the sweat.
3 – Get back on that horse. Remember the first America’s Got Talent competition when cute little Darci Lynne swept away the competition with her unique, polished performance?
Then you remember wrong.
In fact, Darci didn’t get enough votes to make it to the next round in her first attempt. But she didn’t give up. She hung in there, and managed to get back into the competition as a wild card. Needless to say, she made the most of that second chance.
So don’t curse those rejection letters. Learn from them. Be prepared when the opportunity comes along. If you don’t quit, the right opportunity WILL come along. Just ask Darci.
About the author
M.C. Tuggle is a native North Carolinian whose ancestors arrived in the South in 1647. Raised on a tobacco farm near High Point, North Carolina, he enjoyed a childhood of outdoor living, including rambling through the countryside hunting, fishing, and searching for arrowheads. In college, he took a double major in history and English, and completed his M.A. in English at Wake Forest University on a Wake Forest fellowship.
After a career in insurance company underwriting, management, and office automation projects, he is now a writer and recovering technogeek, spending much of his non-writing time learning (and re-learning) wilderness skills.
M.C. Tuggle’s fantasy, science fiction, and literary short stories have been featured in several publications. Novel Fox published his novella Aztec Midnight in December, 2014. His latest book, The Genie Hunt, was published in May, 2017 by Solstice Publishing. He blogs at mctuggle.com.
Read an interview with M. C. Tuggle at The Book Blogger
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