Writerbud Cynthia Ruchti wrote a post on Novel Rocket this morning call Seeing Ripples. I’m willing to bet she whipped that up at the last minute last night because, by her own admission, she was called out to go fishing in the middle of writing. Sometimes those are the best posts. As was the case here.
As writers, we’re told to build our platforms, gather a fan base. Stay active on facebook, twitter, ham radio, and wherever else a potential reader might hang out. I’ve been asked by agents how many followers I have. They want the stats. We’re a people driven by stats.
As an engineer who has spent a lifetime gathering stats, the one thing I understand is that those stats show us about 10% of the total picture. There are far too many unmeasurable variables in any system to claim the stats draw a final conclusion. In my job, it takes one operator on an assembly line to have a bad day, catch a cold, get in a fight with her husband the previous night, etc., and all my data collected that day will be skewed. And I won’t even know it.
Many of you will look at your blog stats this week. How many readers. How many page views. How many clicks. Those represent the 10% of the measurable incidents within your circle of influence. But what of that other 90%? Did a late night web-surfer stumble upon a blog you wrote two years ago and is now considering returning to the church she abandoned the moment she moved out of her parent’s home? Did one of your regular readers repeat something you wrote to a friend? Did your comment on another blog encourage a young man to pursue his writing dream?
You don’t know. You can’t know. The variables are just too vast to consider.
I say this because writers tend to have a high mortality rate. I don’t speak of a physical death (though I predict I will die at my keyboard), but the death of our dreams. Today, hundreds of writers will give up because they don’t think they’re making a difference, or the work is too hard, or they’ve gone ten years without a publishing contract.
But what of the intangibles? We often underestimate the power that comes with an ability to string together coherent sentences and present ideas. If you believe that anyone can do this, go check out a few facebook posts. You have this gift for a reason. As Christians, we believe that we are given gifts to do God’s will. While it’s tough to accept the fact that God wills us to write but does not will us a spot on the NYT best-seller list, we must continue to use our gift as best we can. You may never see a response on your blog. Though the 10% stats show that someone sees it. If you have twenty readers, that’s twenty more than you’d have if you hid under the covers today.
The 90% you don’t see is the fault in our stats. The people you’ll reach without any sort of confirmation of a job well done. Don’t lament the fact that you won’t receive a great big thank-you-for-saving-my-life letter from any of these people. Just accept that God is working through you. What greater reward do you need?
Cynthia did not lament the fact that she can’t see all those ripples, or how far they reach, whenever she types out a blog post, but she simply accepted it for what it is: God is at work. In fact, He’s doing most of the work. You only need to make one small splash. Let Him see how far He can take it.
God Bless, my friends. And keep making those splashes.