Kid Rock taught me something about writing. No, seriously.

So, last night, Mike and I were watching The Daily Show. You know, the one with Jon Stewart. This was my husband’s selection. I was just watching until it got to the end so we could watch an old episode of Medium on NetFlix.

Remember, Mike = love of politics. Brigid = trying to keep up with politics for her husband’s sake.

Then the featured guest on The Daily Show was Kid Rock, and I rolled my eyes at my husband and said, “I’m really not a fan of Kid Rock.” I mean, I like that song with Cheryl Crow, and I guess I like that one about summertime, but I’m really not a fan of grungy screaming music, like Badwitdaba. And I’m definitely not a fan of grungy dirty men. It’s just not my thing.

But we watched anyway, because my husband loves Jon Stewart, and you know what was interesting? Jon Stewart started talking about how much he respected Kid Rock, because Kid Rock knew his business. He knew what went on in music production, he know how to handle himself on tour, and he took good care of his kids and was a good father.

After watching that clip, I have new respect for Kid Rock.

But I keep thinking about the part where Jon Stewart was amazed at how much Kid Rock knew about the business. When he asked about it, Kid Rock said that he’d started out sweeping up in a record company. He learned all the terms and grew from there.

But I think it’s more than that. I think there’s a tendency, once you start getting somewhere, to forget that there’s one person in control of your destiny: YOU.

Just because you have an agent or a book deal doesn’t mean you should forget about the publishing industry. I still read industry blogs every single day. I read Publisher’s Marketplace to see what’s selling. I read agent blogs to see what they’re looking for. I read editor blogs because they’re jaded and funny. NO! I’m totally kidding. I read editor blogs because I’m curious what they’re looking for, and they have a different insight from the agent blogs.

I read links about new e-Book advances. About new e-Readers. About self-publishing phenoms. About teens having books banned in their schools. About what people are reading. I read the local news, and not just for my locality. (I love going to CNN and reading all the US links. And I mean all of them.) I want to know what’s going on in the world. You want to know where you can really get some good ideas to jumpstart a story? Read some local news articles. In Incendiary, the sequel to Elemental, I wanted to write a scene at a party where some kids would be goofing off with fire, using aerosol cans and a stick to make a homemade blowtorch. I thought to myself, “Would kids really be that stupid?”

And then the next day, there was an article on CNN about teenagers messing around with aerosol cans and a bonfire, and getting injured.

So yes. Kids would really be that stupid.

But I digress.

There’s a natural tendency to get to a point and let the experts handle what they handle. And that’s okay. There’s a reason you want an agent and an editor. They are your experts, and their opinion matters a whole lot. (I’m so lucky to have such great ones.) I don’t keep up on industry news so I can nitpick and second guess. I keep up on industry news because I want to be as informed as I can. I want to be a professional artist, not someone who has to be dragged out of a ladies room at 3am, coked up with hair a mess, with a handler hissing, “You have to be on Regis and Kelly in three hours!”

I want responsibility. 

I want to be in control of my destiny.

In short, when I grow up, I want to be just like Kid Rock.

 (Here’s a link to the clip of the show, if you’re curious: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-july-12-2011/kid-rock)

4 thoughts on “Kid Rock taught me something about writing. No, seriously.

  1. I’ve been impressed with KR every time I’ve seen him interviewed. He is a shockingly solid guy. Have to admit, I love most of his music too – great for listening to while running. I have to share my one Kid Rock story, since you brought him up:

    When my daughter was 2, I taught in a boarding school for kids in grades 6-9. We lived in an apartment on the 7th grade boys hall of the dormitory. (Crazy, but also a great experience!) I realized that I needed to start paying attention to what my daughter was being exposed to on the dorm when I was driving with her in the back seat one day. I hear her sweet little two-year-old girl voice in the back singing and start listening in, only to hear Layne singing, “I’m just sittin’ here, wastin’ time. Drinkin’! Smokin’! Tryin’ to free my mind!” Glad she didn’t sing that one at the preschool that day!

  2. Excellent post!

    What gets me is how surprised Jon Stewart was. Kid Rock has been around a while, so he’d *have* to know his stuff (though, like you, I don’t actually like his music). I think in general we have a tendency to believe things come easily to people who have succeeded, and therefore we either think (a) it’ll come easily to us or (b) there’s no point in trying b/c, after all, it’s all about luck.

    When my parents opened their first bookstore 35 or so years ago, they started from scratch, built their own shelves, remodeled an old gas station themselves, and basically worked their butts off to get just enough ahead that my dad could quit teaching. It all paid off, but it wasn’t an overnight success. The key word is WORK–not money or luck or timing. But too many entrepreneurs go bankrupt thinking it’s *only* money and luck and timing.

    It’s the same with any business. Put in the hours and you’ll see results. Do the research and you’ll see results. . . . or you’ll decide maybe you didn’t want it so much after all.

  3. I’ve never been a big fan of Kid Rock. But I’m with you in that when I see him interviewed (including in the clip you linked here) I just have so much respect for him because despite the image and all of that, he’s actually pretty hard-working and well put-together (which is way more than can be said for most other people in his position…)

    Anyway. This was a great post. =)

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