You are the weakest Writer…. goodbye.
So I can freely confess that I love the UK version of The Apprentice and OK, even Masterchef. But watching book club panel discussions makes my eyes glaze over. I’ve devised a competitive reality show pitting writers against each other to win a big publishing deal….. Like a Big Brother crossed with X-Factor snuggling up to The Weakest Link, but with writers who are desperate to be published and believe, mistakenly or not, that they have the talent to do this.
Key Talent: a Lord Allan Sugar of the publishing industry – some acid-tongued editor whose made their career out of spotting breakout authors. He/she can kick off a writer each week with witty vivisection of why their heartfelt words just suck.
A couple of sidekicks to the Editor – could be a couple of camera-friendly literary Agents, who build up relationships with the Aspiring Writers only to agree with the Editor each week when it comes time to boot one out.
10 Aspiring Writers – the contestants who live in some enormous writers’ retreat house near the city, each with their own garret/cell to write in all week, the house will also need a large supply of reference books, literary works, hard liquor, and an espresso machine for each writer. This has to be realistic, after all.
The Format: Each week, the Writers are given tasks by the crotchety Editor and each week one is kicked out of the house until the last Writer standing is given a fabulous publishing deal plus an actual budget to promote their book.
Tasks should range from:
– having to write a 50,000 word novella in one week that’s better than Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Animal Farm,
– organizing and marketing and performing in their own book reading to promote themselves (since we all know writers are supposed to be their own best PR agent these days) whoever doesn’t fill their local bookshop or venue and get a queue of people wanting signatures jeopardizes their place in the house,
– writing a 1,000 flash fiction, or worse, poem, in one week (which really ought to be more polished than the 50,000 word effort),
– pitching their book idea to various rooms full of publishing industry professionals all looking for the slightest excuse to say No,
– designing their own book cover, font, layout, promotional website & blog, twitter feeds and networking platform (watch the technically unsavvy spontaneously combust in this episode since we all know writers are supposed to be timid little creatures scribbling in attics but ALSO media savvy extrovert entrepreneurs who know simply everybody),
– appearing on television promoting their book with an Oprah-style marketing force that could make or break their career – and they have to pick out their own outfit and do their own make-up,
– write something completely against the genre they actually like to write and see whose head explodes,
– chase all over the city looking for research for a particular topic they have to write up the true story of, something so horribly obscure it involves spending a week inside public libraries, births & deaths registries, maybe a few cemeteries, nothing that anyone could GOOGLE, ha ha ha ha, (or if they Google it they go in completely the wrong direction, ha ha ha ha),
– all while finishing their manuscript which they should have STARTED to get a place on the show, but haven’t FINISHED, just to add some weekly pressure as the Writers realize they don’t have an ending, wrote the wrong book, or just plain can’t summon the muse under the pressure of the hidden cameras in their garret filming them in their ‘special writing pyjamas’ and lighting their ‘special lucky writing candle’ etc etc,
– plus, dealing with 50 emails per day about the early pages of their unfinished manuscript full of criticisms and rewrite requests from an invisible team of agents/editors/copy-editors – as if the Writer has a deal already and has to fix all the messes in his manuscript, if the Writer loses it about these 50 emails then that’s taken into account by the Editor who may use such lack of professionalism to kick Writer out,
– and of course, negotiate their own publishing deal terms to their best advantage without having much clue about publishing contracts, rights or copyright.
I think that kind of show about writing and writers would be more fun to watch. Book club shows are just so dry.