So I finally got a smart phone.
And I got an Instagram.
I’m pretty much a Kardashian.
Am I self-centered?
* * *
Jesus told a parable that I think is really important.
It’s in Matthew 25, and it’s the story about the man going on the journey who entrusts his wealth to three servants.
To the first he gives five talents (one talent would have been worth about twenty-years of wages for a servant), to the second he gave two, and to the third he gave one.
He leaves and goes on his journey to Disney Land or Canada or New England or wherever. Finally he returns and comes to his servants and kind of just says, “What’s up? What’d you do with my talents?” The first guy, the one with five, doubled it and the man is stoked. Same thing with the second. The third servant, however, buried his talent in a field because he was so afraid of losing it.
The man takes the single talent from the third servant and gives it to the one who has ten. The third guy really didn’t do anything with what he had been given and lost what little he had.
* * *
I’ve taken one class and attended two writing conferences focused on the publishing industry. The steps make sense, and if you’re interested in the details, feel free to shoot me an email.
Out of all of that, there’s one huge obstacle that stands in most writers’ ways—it’s the thing that seems insurmountable: followers.
Since the advent of blogs and websites, writers now have greater access to readers than ever before. (Back in the fifties, I guess the best you could do was write a blog post on dried animal carcasses and hang them around town.) You can find blogs that cover every subject and you can keep searching for years and years and never get to the bottom of the avalanche that is online accessibility.
So publishers started noticing and thought of something kind of obvious: why would they sign a new writer who has no following (i.e. no guaranteed book sales) when they could sign a writer who already has 10,000 email subscribers (i.e. 10,000 guaranteed book sales)?
It makes a lot of practical sense.
Therefore, in 2017, it takes about 10,000 email/Twitter/Facebook followers (not an exaggeration) to garner the earnest attention of publishers. In the industry it’s called platform.
Platform, platform, platform.
It’s the highest hurdle and the scariest one for any writer, but for a Christian? It feels kind of deadly.
* * *
How did the guy who doubled the five talents not get cocky? How did he not sit at a local bar at night, puff out his chest, and use his ability to maximize talents to hook up with women and win games of poker?
For some reason I imagine him swagger-walking down an old western town and randomly shooting finger pistols at everyone he sees.
But I don’t think Jesus would make an example out of a finger-pistol guy.
All we know is that two guys doubled the talents and one guy didn’t, and we are supposed to be like the guys who doubled.
How’d they do that without getting cocky?
* * *
And what about the guy who buried the treasure? What if he buried it out of fear but convinced himself he was doing it out of humility?
That’s what I did a year ago when I shut down the website.
Like I wrote a couple weeks ago, I told myself it was to get away from self-promotion, but in reality it was because I was afraid of the vulnerability necessary to write.
How do you know whether naming your website DrewBrownWrites is to be authentic or to be famous and liked?
Am I writing out of the fullness of what God has given me or out of a need to fill myself with gratification?
Is it even possible to be humble and have a website?
* * *
I have a seventy-page book proposal that I’ve finally finished. Someday I’ll need to write in-depth about how it came to be, but for now suffice it to say the Lord has been moving and working in my life and in my writing.
I shared it this past weekend at a writing conference I attended, and I received some encouragement and positive feedback. The hurdle? My online presence.
They gave me two big action steps for this summer/the near-future: write the entire book, and grow my followers to that magical 10,000 number.
The book feels doable (sometimes), but the 10,000 followers? That feels so incredibly daunting.
I was given that advice on Friday evening. Then, on Sunday, my pastor gave a sermon on Moses and how God uses the unlikely to be leaders. Remember when God used Moses’s staff to turn it into a snake? My pastor used that as an example of the ways God uses what’s in our hands to multiply his message.
Next he talked about the kid with the five loaves and two fish. Jesus could have fed the five-thousand out of nothing, but instead he chose to use the boy’s lunch—what was in his hands—to create a miracle.
Then, I kid you not, my pastor said, “Write the book and God will multiply it.”
It took me a second to realize what he had said. But when I realized it, I froze.
There, sitting in church, I heard my marching orders: write the book.
* * *
I can only offer God my two talents, my five fish, and my two loaves.
I can only offer God my writing.
I can only really offer you what God has already given me. And I never want to forget who the Giver is. I spent so much time running away from a platform because I assumed it was only evil, that it only corrupted, that it could not bring about anything good in my own life.
But I’m learning that may not be the case.
Maybe God has given me words for those without them.
Maybe God has given me words for you to use.
Maybe, like Paul said, it really is out of my weakness that God proves his strength.
* * *
So yeah, I got a smart phone.
And I got an Instagram.
But I really, truly pray they are used to multiply the investment God has placed within me.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.
p.s. If you’re interested in hearing about the book writing process or what my book is about, feel free to sign up below for my email updates! I only try and email about once a week at most, and I really don’t try and waste your time (because let’s be real, my inbox full of emails I don’t actually read either).