The first time I heard the word “platform” (apart from catching a train or giving a speech) was about six years ago while walking with a friend, who was finishing her master’s degree in creative non-fiction. We’d been talking about the book I’d begun writing about the adoption of my daughter, Ruth.
“What are you doing to build your platform?” she asked as we turned a bend in the wooded road.
“My what?” I asked.
“Your platform,” she repeated. “You know, your name recognition–speaking gigs, social media followers, publishing credentials.”
By that time I’d been steadily publishing articles in large regional publications for a decade and had even won awards. Wasn’t that enough?
From the time my friend first mentioned “platform” I shrunk from the idea of self-promotion. In a world full people trying to turn their lives into the next reality T.V. show, I’d rather raise chickens.
Recently, I heard back from a wonderful agent who was everything I hoped: socially conscious, well-connected, and moved by Ruth’s story. Half way through reading the manuscript, she e-mailed me to say she was “hooked.”
Then came her final reply. Although she loved the story, my “platform” wasn’t big enough. This writer was crushed.
If it was just about me or Ruth or my career I’d quit.
But it isn’t.
My family had the amazing privilege of sharing six extraordinary years with a precious and remarkable little girl who would never have had a family had we not adopted her. When I spent a month in East Africa with Ruth while finalizing her paperwork, I stayed at her orphanage and played with, read books to, and sang to dozens of children just like her–children waiting for homes. I learned their names and stories. Raymond. Ce-ce. Agnes. Grace.
They are why I’m telling Ruth’s story.
So, I’ll take this kind agent’s advice in hand and keep building my platform while working on other projects before sending Ruth’s story out again. But I won’t quit. Too much depends on it.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute,” Proverbs 31:8.
Or, in would-be-author lingo, “Tweet, post, blog, and publish for those who cannot speak for themselves…”
Yep, I’m doing it!
Ever faced an obstacle so big you wanted to quit? What kept you going?
So short a time here on earth and yet, what a wonderful and great impact she had on the lives of those who knew her. I will always remember her beautiful smile… :o)
Thanks, Mark. She always loved visiting your church and seeing her grandpa preach!
Well said, Meadow. Better you have a book and no platform (yet), than a platform and no book.
Thanks, Raye. It’s pretty tough going. Your words mean a lot.
I can’t help but think about what it really means to say, “Lord, I surrender myself completely to Your will, WHATEVER it may be.” Even when the Holy Spirit gives us a sense of God’s will and a heart to follow it, it rarely works out as we’ve expected. If you guys had known ahead of time that you would adopt Ruth and love her as your own and then He would take her away…the thought would be unbearable, unimaginable, heart-wrenching. Would you have done it just the same? I thought our family would be on the mission field full time by now. I want to run an orphanage, I want to spend my days loving and ministering to those who have no one. It makes me angry to be here sometimes, the times I have spent on the mission field are the few times I have felt complete peace and a sense of where I belong. But for now we are here, and I have no doubt in my mind that for this season of our lives God has called us to be foster parents. The first month he was here I wanted to quit! I wanted out, I was having a complete meltdown!! The same time he arrived the transmission went in our van and I tore a disc in my back. The loony bin was looking like a good choice. God showed me something so clear though that from that day on I never doubted again. While we were getting the room ready for whatever child would arrive the kids wanted to paint it orange…and I mean bright orange. I was so against it, it was horrendous!! I am an earth tones person, and it matches nothing in my house! But eventually I gave in. In the days following his arrival, during my pending psychosis, God clearly showed me a sign that was quite clever on His part! He showed me that we painted that room orange because of the little boy with the ORANGE hair who would show up on our doorstep, dirty, neglected, and scared.
Wow, Laurie. That’s really beautiful. What a wonderful reminder. Your comment makes me remember it isn’t all about us–orange bedrooms or what! It has been a hard journey, but you’re right… I’d do it all over again had I known. And yet, somehow I know that God uses it all for our good. Right now it is just so hard to see how. So glad you went with the orange bedroom and said “Yes!” to the beautiful little boy with the orange hair! Your family is a true inspiration. You are living The Message. I know it isn’t easy. I hope to see you soon!
I am praying for you! Because of you and your wonderful family, Ruth had a blessed life and touched the lives of many. I am so incredibly thankful to have known her!