Seth Godin and the Susan Boyle Syndrome ... no glass slippers

If you're not familiar with author Seth Godin, I'd encourage you to check out one of his ten books or an interview with him. He is a new media marketing guru. He talks about marketing, change management, and finding your on-line community or tribe. Kool stuff. 
In a recent blog post, Hope and the Magic Lottery, he talked about how artists are holding out to win the marketing lottery - or, waiting for their Oprah moment. Here's a teaser from the link:   
"... the fledgling author, the one who has been turned down by ten agents and then copies his manuscript and fedexes it to twenty large publishing houses--what is he hoping for, exactly? Perhaps he's hoping to win the magic lottery, to be the one piece of slush chosen out of a million (literally a million!) that goes on to be published and revered.
You deserve better than the dashed hopes of a magic lottery.
There's a hard work alternative to the magic lottery, one in which you can incrementally lay the groundwork and integrate into the system you say you want to work with."
It got me musing about what I call the Susan Boyle Syndrome.
We all saw the video. I felt chills go up and down my spin as she sang, I admonished those who scoffed at her bushy eyebrows,  and I felt hope for all of humanity. 

The syndrome is the feeling that if I only get a chance the world will see my talent and I’ll be a star. In her case it was true. But we are obsessed with the notion of overnight success. Most artists' ‘overnight success’ is the result of years of professional training and hard slogging. There is this notion that writing or singing doesn’t take any effort if you have talent. 

There is a feeling that you should write it once and it will be perfect. When I talked about how excited I was to learn from the editing process, one non-writer I know (is that like a muggle?!) regaled me with a story of a best selling author who wrote his book in two weeks and got it published. I would suspect that wasn't the case. My story of how I got published is a more realistic experience. We’re not doing students of artistic disciplines any favours if we send the message that you do something once and it’s perfect; and if not you quit. Artistic pursuits are a process. A process that requires continued learning, doing, and excelling. It also requires persistence. Susan sang in the church choir, in every production she could, and at karaoke night. She keep the dream alive, nurtured it, and made it happen by putting herself out there.

I love that Susan Boyle is living her dream. Dream big, be prepared for success, and learn as much as you can along the way.      


Great post and so true, Jan. I think people look at Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling, figure it was done overnight and reckon, without any effort, they can do the same. I read a quote yesterday which sort of fits "inside every successful woman is an unmentioned pain in her heart". Very little comes easily or for nothing.
Anonymous said…
Ditto that Jan,

Reminded me about Steve Carell (Little Miss Sunshine). When interviewed on the "View" the women all said, "So, you're an overnight success" His response. "Yeah, twenty years."
I was so proud of him. Patience and Persistence. Love it. Jocosa of the Earrings
Jan Markley said…
Great quote Nicky.

Right Jocosa, my nephew followed Fiest's 'overnight success' over a ten year period when she was a local artist here in Calgary playing small venues. People only see the success part, not what lead up to it.
Dawn said…
Great post, Jan. There are certainly story of overnight literary success, but they are few and far between. I believe in continued learning.
Jan Markley said…
Good point Dawn, it's all about continuous learning.
Anonymous said…
I like the title of this blog!
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Anonymous - welcome to Three Dead Moths ...