Our Northern Colorado contestant on American Idol, Haeley Vaughn, was voted out last night, along with three other talented young folks. I say talented because they were screened and selected to participate in the show from a huge pool of auditions. At several points in the process, the judges felt these kids had something special to bring to the show. They made it to the top 24.
Haeley, from Fort Collins, Colorado, is only 16 years old. After two performances, it was clear she didn't have the experience, maturity, and stage presence to keep up with the rest of the contestants. Her voice is wonderful, but she didn't sing well on the show. She is beautiful, and she has a glorious smile, but it wasn't enough to turn on the viewers who do the voting.
I hope Haeley comes away from her American Idol experience with a new determination to study, train, and learn. It won't be easy to jump right back in the water with the sharks. Judge Simon Cowell was disturbingly cruel, especially considering Haeley's age.
We writers can sympathize with feelings of rejection, especially when the judgment is delivered with harsh words and an angry expression. At some time in our writing careers, we'll most likely face such a criticism. My first slap-down experience was at a weekend writing retreat/workshop, supposedly to help beginning writers. That critique stopped me cold. I didn't show my work to anyone for several years after that happened. That vulnerability slowed me down and held me back, because it's the feedback and the criticism that help us get better. We can't afford to be sensitive, to run away and hide.
It's a tough old world. The ones who succeed have strength, determination, a willingness to work real hard, and a lot of courage. Rejection is inevitable. As hard as it is, we have to listen to it, weigh it, think about it, use it, and move forward.
Haeley has talent, and she'll have a lot of support from her family and her community as she works to refine her voice and her style. I can't wait to see her grow, and I hope she tackles American Idol again in a year or two. I'm very proud of her.