Posts Tagged: writing

Writers, Platforms and My Measly (aka authentic) Life

Are you dreading something inevitable, lurking in the shadows of your unforseen future? Are you putting something off that you KNOW you must face?

I am.

I dread platform building. Platform, for those of you who may not know (or care) is the follower base that every writer needs in order to sell books. Platform is what publishers use to predict an author’s future success. If an author has a popular blog, or celebrity status or can fill a stadium with fans, she has a much better chance to sell books.

No name authors, like myself, have to make a name for themselves. Or die trying. 

I’m Platform Avoidant.  Platform Adverse. Platform Challenged. But, the Platform Issue is coming. And I’m dreading it.

It’s coming because I’m almost finished with a manuscript. This manuscript has been my best friend for the last year and a 1/2. I study her, dream about her, create with her, eat with her and sleep with her. I’m never happier than when I have a book to write.

But in the near future, I’m going to have to put her out there for the world to see. I’m going to have to sell her. And the thought of that makes me sick to my stomach. I’m afraid I’ll sell my soul, right along with her. That’s what “Platform Building” brings up for me. Soul-sucking, foul-smelling, cold-calling, stage-hogging, tele-marketing, look-at-me-look-at-me kind of sales.

I’m afraid that in the process of making her available to the world, I’ll forsake all.

I’ll feel slimy “drumming up” support and begging for likes.

I’ll feel desperate asking friends to read it, and strangers to buy it.  

I’ll feel rejected when they say “yes,” but mean “no.”

I’ll feel jealous because “my platform’s not as big as her platform!”

I’ll feel anxious because “Platform Building” has been for me, synonymous with “Platform Fail.”

Because the fear of begging for attention, and never getting it just sucks. And the fear of begging for attention and finally getting it is even worse because what if I disappoint them? And because getting likes, and followers, and retweets is a friggin moving target that I can’t seem to hit. And becuase Platform Building is a full time job that I just don’t like, don’t get paid for, and never get right.

So, I hate platform building. Because I hate what I micht become.

A desperate, hamster on a wheel, working really hard for the Illusive Platform Slot Machine that never gives back what I pump into it.

My Platform Fail, after emptying me of all my insides, made me hungry for authenticity.

Can I tell you what I want? What I really want, instead of the Platform? Simplicity. Authenticity. I want what feels good, and right, and wholesome. I want smaller, not bigger. I want one-on-ones, not the worship of 500. I want real, not ideal. I want connection, not followers. I want relationship, not audience. I want whatever is the opposite of coercion and begging and attention seeking. I want whatever is not self-serving and self-aggrandizing and self- centered. Whatever doesn’t result in self-bloating and self-loathing. But I didn’t know what I truly wanted until I got sick on all the other stuff.

I learned the hard way, that self-promotion is a sure way to self-destruction. I got drunk on the stuff- so drunk it made me sick. And now the thought of it tastes like bile in my mouth.

Yeah, so I’m Platform Adverse.

My Platform Fail, after emptying me of all my insides, made me hungry for authenticity. God did not grow my Platform, he grew my insides. He didn’t give me audiences and followers and fans, he gave me a few readers who sent letter upon letter detailing their healing.

God gave me the thank you card from a friend.

God gave me binge viewing Once Upon A Time with Sweet and Sassy.

God gave me a handful of clients that come to my office whom I enjoy immensely.

God gave me two small classes at one small Christian University that I would teach for free (and almost do) because it’s so fun.

God made my life and my circles smaller, not bigger.

No award winning activities. Nothing on which to build a “Platform.” I certainly don’t fill auditoriums.  I blog inconsistently, and I’m a fairly mediocre writer. Nothing with any notariety. Just small. Just intimate. Just simple and peaceful. Thank God for the peaceful.

I know that “aunthenticity” is over-used. Everyone and their Levis want to be authentic. Authenticity is trending. I’m pretty sure it’s soooo 2014!  I’m usualy a couple seasons late. Better late than never.

So yeah, I wrote and published a book. I crashed and burned, and made myself sick trying to sell that book. I’ll tell you the whole story some time, over wine and tissues. And chocolate if you have some. I just ran out. And now I’m working on my second book and pretty soon, I’ll have to face that dreaded “Platform Building” thing again.

This time, I’m taking my soul with me.

Hey Writer- What can Diane Ravitch Teach You?

What are Your Small Smooth Stones? There is a debate currently, between one of the world’s richest men and an education research professor. One name you’ll recognize, and the other you won’t. Bill Gates, through his philanthropic foundation, has invested billions of dollars in education experiments in order to reform America’s education system. Gate’s billions, reforms and efforts have not gone unnoticed by New York University research professor, Diane Ravitch. Diane has been called Bill Gates’ chief adversary when it comes to education reform. She doesn’t like what he’s doing, or how he’s doing it. It’s likely that nothing and no one wants to stand in the way of a man and his billions, especially in the name of improving our children’s education. However, Diane Ravitch, author of  the bestselling book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System is doing just that. If you’d like to read about the issue, click here.

This post is less about the debate between Gates and Ravitch, and more about the profound response Ravitch has to Bill Gates. It’s a lesson for every writer, every speaker, every teacher. When asked what is was like to be referred to as “Bill Gates’ chief adversary,” she replied,

“Gates has his billions, but I have my words.”

This a David and Goliath story, with words being Ravitch’s small smooth stones. Ravitch reminds us that our words have enough power to get the job done. We may not have much, or what our competition has, but we do have our words. And our words are enough. In Ravitch’s case, she researches and then writes and teaches the findings. She feels compelled by the evidence to stand for what she believes, no matter her foe. This is commendable.

We must do the same. We are accountable to God and to human kind to use our words to fulfill God’s calling. Whatever platform we have, be it stage, blog, book or cell phone, we can use our words to transform our environment. When odds are stacked as high as rejection letters, when the Bigger and Better seem to be winning, when your small smooth stones feel puny in our pocket, we must not despair! They have their advantages, but we have your words. We will use them. Speak them. Deliver them.  With faith.

Thanks Diane, for your small smooth stone, selected with just enough weight and executed with just enough impact to shatter our feelings of insufficiency.

We have our words, and they are enough.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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