Have you heard about the girl who's caused a huge stir about her decision to stop wearing leggings in public with concern it may make men lust after her?
This post has nothing to do with that. :)
But it is about a similar question: what is the line between being considerate of others' struggles and unnecessarily catering to/coddling them?
Now, please know this post is meant as a fun, lighthearted look at a serious situation. I don't mean to point fingers or offend. I have been on both sides of the map as a writer with a fabulous agent and two published short stories, who is still desperately craving to see her novels in print. Therefore, with one foot in each "camp," so to speak, I feel qualified to look the issue from, well, both sides.
I've noticed that within the past few years, social media has taken a turn towards (sometimes heavy) self-promotion. I get it. Every published author needs to sell books, and aren't we all a little scared of not selling enough? But at the risk of giving advice completely counter to what your publishing house may have told you, sometimes self-promotion makes you sound like that friend who only calls to invite you to Mary Kay parties. There's a difference between building genuine relationships with readers and author friends via social media and using people for sales.
So I thought today I'd write a post that's a little different... some things to consider if you're a published writer as you engage in social media with so many hopeful-heart storytellers still waiting.
Do you remember when you were a little girl and you wore your mother's shoes around the house, wishing they would fit your tiny feet? I can remember this specific towel rack in my parents' old bathroom that I used to look at and think, "When I'm as tall as that, I'll be so grown." Blame Cinderella, but I used to dream about being old enough to go dancing-- really dancing, like learning to waltz and swing. Can you remember things you so badly wanted to do as a little kid?
Now that I'm an adult, it's easy to forget how deeply my childhood heart yearned for these things. In the same way, I think anyone who has been on the writing journey long enough may begin to forget the excitement and longing of those initial stages of writing... as well as the deep discouragement it can bring.
|Photo by khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
I think published and unpublished writers have so much to offer one another, but I've noticed that sometimes unpublished writers get a little gun-shy approaching "success stories." You may not realize it, but if you're published, you're kind of a rock star. Like, really. You are in a HUGE minority. You have written words that are actually printed and in front of other human beings--whether that's a book, a novella, or a magazine. Many... even most... writers never make it to the point of having actual readers! If you do have readers, what an influence you have, what a ministry! Please don't take that for granted.
I write all this not as a critique of published writers, but as encouragement to reframe your perspective. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your deadline, or discouraged by a bad review, take time to remember the big picture. You have the dream in your hands. It may not look the way you thought it would, and it may not be easy. At all. But again, you have readers, and that is nothing short of a crazy, miraculous thing. These stories started in your imagination, and God is using them to touch someone out there in the world--someone you may never meet. Someone who may even be reading your story as you read this post. How cool is that!
I also want to encourage you to be sensitive to your unpublished writer friends and remember what it was like when you were on the waiting side of your contract. Don't forget the doubt, and the tears, and the desperate prayers to God as you wondered if this thing was ever going to happen or if it's a huge failure of a dream. Don't forget that while people celebrate with you because you had lunch with your dream editor or you made it big in a writing contest, with too much detail, these successes will inevitably remind others of what they have not yet achieved... and sometimes that stings. Don't cater to every overly-sensitive individual who needs to get a thicker writer's skin, but do remember that doubt hits every one of us, as well as feelings of insecurity. Do everything you can to encourage the writers around you in their callings and dreams, because you are a success story.
And let's face it. The world needs to hear more of those.
Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.