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IWSG: What Rebecca Black taught me about writing

Inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources.

If you’re reading this, you most likely had childhood dreams of becoming a writer one day.

Rebecca Black dreamed of being a singer.

What Rebecca Black taught me about writing

When she was just thirteen years old, her mother decided to help make that dream come true. She paid four thousand dollars for Rebecca to record a song and make a video.

And through a cosmic turn of events, that video went viral and Rebecca’s first recorded song–the now-infamous Friday–was on everyone’s lips. People couldn’t stop singing it…and trashing it.

Be careful what you wish for.

Before Rebecca–who, remember, was barely a teenager–could blink, adults who should have known a lot better were trashing her vanity project as the worst song of all time. And the worst video of all time. Something she’d done with her friends for fun was subjected to international ridicule.

Can you imagine what it would be like to receive hundreds or thousands of insults the first time you dared to share your talent with the world? Now imagine it happened when you were a child.

And it wasn’t just her singing people had a problem with. Oh no. They had to call this beautiful girl fat and ugly too. She got death threats. Death threats! Over a pop song. Eventually, the bullying got so bad she had to leave high school.

It’s a wonder this poor child didn’t kill herself. Certainly enough monsters encouraged her to do just that. Few adults would have had the resiliency to bounce back from that level of all-out hatred, let alone a kid.

So what did Rebecca teach me about writing?

This is Rebecca today.

What Rebecca Black taught me about writing

Photo credit: Black’s Facebook page

 

Now twenty, she’s still singing. She’s not hiding in a closet or choosing some safe career where no one would recognize her. She may have had to leave school over the Friday backlash, but she never let the haters steal her voice. I once saw a Tweet from her where she referred to herself as “That Friday bitch,” which made me smile. Rebecca can laugh at herself, and because of that, she’s having the last laugh.

We do a lot of venting and commiserating in this group, and rightly so–we’re an Insecure Writer’s Support Group, after all. But the next time you’re bummed over a rejection or bad review, the next time you threaten to give up because it’s too hard, think of Rebecca. Think of this young girl who rose above what must have seemed like the whole world mocking her when she was just thirteen.

And keep right on singing.

*

P.S. – If you missed yesterday’s post, please check it out. Eric Breakfield says he was tricked into signing a contract with the devil when he was a teenager. It’s a fascinating story.

P.P.S. – Thanks to everyone who voted for City of Ghosts in the AllAuthor cover contest! I’m happy to say we won third place. Barbara in Caneyhead won the prize of both books in the GhostWriters series. Congrats, Barbara!

The purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

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48 Comments

  1. Be careful what you wish for …

    But yeah, as much as I’d have loved to be a published author at age 13 with my stories, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to get criticized at that age.

    Reply
    • JH

      Especially with that level of brutality.

      Reply
  2. What a terrible message to send to someone, especially a kid. Good for Rebecca – she’s getting the last laugh!

    Reply
    • JH

      It was so great to see how well she’s doing, and that she has the strength to laugh at herself.

      Reply
  3. I am so glad the Internet wasn’t around when I was a kid. I don’t think I’d have been strong enough to deal with what Rebecca and lots of other kids do now. I’m lucky I can handle stuff like that as an adult!

    Reply
    • JH

      Me too, Madeline. That cyber bullying stuff is awful, to put it mildly.

      Reply
  4. Now that’s an inspiring story about Rebecca. To (have to) grow such thick skin at that age is both sad and incredible. Good for her to fight back and become as strong as she has been! It is pretty amazing and I think it is putting her ahead of the game, which is called “the world and how to deal with its people”, right now. Congrats on winning third prize for the book cover, which is so beautiful and intriguing.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Liesbet, and thanks for voting. I agree with your assessment of Rebecca. After going through that, I figure she can survive almost anything life throws at her.

      Reply
    • JH

      Glad you enjoyed it, Juneta.

      Reply
  5. That would crush most adults. Rebecca is certainly having the last laugh now.

    Reply
    • JH

      And she deserves it.

      Reply
  6. AS I read the post, I keep thinking how I’d react to something like that. I’m not sure I would have continued, so hats off to Rebecca Black. And I’m tucking this away to remember when I get rotten comments on my work.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s a great point, Lee. I sympathized with what Rebecca must have gone through, but I’ve never asked myself what I would have done in her place. Would I have kept writing? Based on my track record, I probably wouldn’t have submitted or published my work again for a long, long time.

      Reply
  7. A wonderful lesson I hope I never have to face. Yep, I’m a chicken.

    Reply
    • JH

      I don’t blame you. I’m in no hurry to face that one, either.

      Reply
  8. The internet can be an evil place. People are quick to adopt the mob mentality especially when hidden behind screen names and such. It’s a scary thing and so sad that happened to Rebecca. It’s good she rose above it and is continuing her dream. It’s true, giving up is easier than fighting through sometimes. I’ve been there for sure.

    Great post and congrats on your win.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Meka. It’s really scary how cruel people can be in the safety of their own homes, hidden behind anonymity.

      Reply
  9. Great story, and a great reminder for everyone who piles on when the Internet starts making fun of people.

    Not to mention putting the minor criticisms I’ve gotten into perspective!

    Reply
    • JH

      Glad you enjoyed it, Rebecca. I’m horrified at how ugly the mob mentality can get these days.

      Reply
  10. Now I feel bad for hating on that Christopher Paolini kid…

    Reply
    • JH

      Then my work here is done. 😀

      I’m sure you didn’t send him any death threats, so you’re in the clear.

      Reply
  11. As inspiring as this story is, I also find it a sad commentary on the world we live in. What’s wrong with people that they think there’s nothing wrong with threatening death to someone, especially a kid, just for singing a song…
    Anyway, I do see the bigger picture of this message and will keep her in mind whenever the road gets rough. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
    • JH

      You’re welcome, Toi. And you’re right–it is a sad commentary. For some reason, people forget that there are real human beings on the other side of the screen.

      Reply
  12. I will never understand why Internet trolls have to go after a person’s appearance and their right to exist when they don’t like a song or a piece of writing or some other creative endeavour. Put some love in the world and move on if you don’t like something!

    I’m so glad Rebecca recovered. She’s got a brave lesson to teach us all.

    Reply
    • JH

      I couldn’t agree more, Joey. Thanks for commenting, and welcome to my blog. Hope to see you back here.

      Reply
  13. That’s good Rebecca is still singing and didn’t let the hostility make her quit. People online can be so vicious and we all know they’d never say that same stuff to a person’s face.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, and the ones who are the most vicious are also the most cowardly.

      Reply
  14. I know it made me smile when I saw Rebecca on Katy Perry’s video. I still sing Friday at work when it comes to the end of the week. I can’t believe so many people were so cruel to her when she just wanted to play and have some fun.

    Reply
    • JH

      Ah yes, that was an awesome moment, wasn’t it? I love it that Perry did that.

      Reply
  15. I’d never heard of Rebecca Black before – I’ll have to check her out now. What a great inspirational story to share with us. I especially like that she’s a singer but that her life lessons are good lessons for people working in other creative pursuits, like writing.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Ellen. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I agree–I think her story could apply to any artistic medium, or even people who’ve been shamed online.

      Reply
  16. I hadn’t heard of Rebecca Black, but I am relieved to hear she made it through the nastiness intact.
    Putting our creative selves out there is, in many ways, a brave move in the age of the social media.
    Good post.

    Reply
    • JH

      Me too, KT. I find the way she handled everything so inspiring. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  17. That is something to think about. Sometimes there are advantages to obscurity! I’m glad to here she can laugh about it now.

    Reply
    • JH

      She’s an amazingly strong person. Courage way beyond her years.

      Reply
  18. People are cruel, ugly and messy. There is no way to sugar coat it and many act this way out of jealousy and because they just get off on being cruel. She chose the right path and I bet she is stronger for it. A lesson learnt for sure and for many people who want to give up. You know what, The same people who bully and are just so mean are usually the first to give up.

    Reply
    • JH

      Very true, Birgit. Well put.

      Reply
  19. You know what’s funny though? The place I used to work at, a co-worker and I would always send texts to each other on Friday with either the lyrics or a video of that song. =) It became our Friday theme song, even after she stopped working at the same place I did. And it wasn’t in a mocking way, we honestly got to the place where we liked the song because it was so bad that it was good. Kinda like B horror films that you know are terrible but you still get a kick out of them. I, for one, truly admire Rebecca because I’m 34 years old and still get my feelings hurt and want to go hide in a hole over MUCH smaller things than what she has dealt with. Why can’t humans just be nice??

    Also, I’m pretty sure a heavy metal band once covered her song. I mean, while I don’t think that any publicity is good publicity, I guarantee you some of the people talking bad about her don’t get half as much attention as she does. =)

    Reply
    • JH

      So true, Nikki. I actually think jealousy is one of the reasons she faced the hatred she did. That, and Friday is one heck of an ear worm.

      Reply
  20. I don’t think I would’ve wanted to be criticized for my writing at age 13, but this is a great post nonetheless!

    Reply
    • JH

      Definitely not! Thanks, Gina.

      Reply
  21. What an inspiring story about this beautiful and talented young woman. And so sad that the lesson is to harden ourselves to public opinion. I will never understand the vicious incivility that saturates our public discourse. But it makes me thankful for IWSG community.

    Reply
    • JH

      I didn’t intend for that to be the lesson. To me, the lesson is to never give up, and that even people who face incredible adversity can go on to succeed.

      We’re definitely lucky to have the IWSG. 🙂

      Reply
  22. How people treated her when she was a child was awful. I think that happens when kids are in the public eye, or do something like singing and acting, people forget they are children.

    Reply
    • JH

      Sad but true. I have no idea what motivates people like that, but they must have sad little lives.

      Reply
  23. Art is dangerous. It reveals the best and worst in people, and pop art more so than other forms. I’m glad she persevered and continued to follow her passion.

    Reply
    • JH

      Me too, Ryan. She’s strong beyond her years. I don’t know how she did it.

      Reply

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