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A gentle breeze rustled the pages of my legal pad while I took notes on the bistro table—outside so as not to disturb Keith. On the other end of the phone was author and writing coach Lisa Romeo. After attending her reading at HippoCamp 2018, I’d purchased her book Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss. Because I admired her work and knew about her editorial services, I contacted her for help on my query letter and book proposal.

As Fred Rogers’s mother said to him when things got scary, “Look for the helpers.”

Toward the end of Lisa’s feedback on my book proposal, I said, “I think I’m beginning to wrap my brain around the business of writing. But it feels like I’m promoting myself, and I’m not comfortable with that.”

“You’re going to have to become comfortable with that,” Lisa said, “because publishing is the other half of writing.” She listed what I needed to flesh out in the marketing section of my book proposal: 

  • Reviews: media, Amazon, blogs
  • Events: in-person, online, conferences
  • Publications: book excerpts, essays, guest blogs, news articles
  • Publicity: interviews, lists… 

That’s where my scribbling trailed off.

“Maybe if I think about publishing like I did teaching, as a mission,” I said to Lisa. “I enjoyed promoting the missions of the schools where I taught. So, building a writing platform is my new mission.”

To define a writing mission I felt comfortable promoting, I needed more helpers. Wouldn’t you know…

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I met Kate Motaung at the Festival of Faith and Writing in 2018 and follow her on social media. Last week on Instagram, she posted a picture of herself and coauthor Shannon Popkin, holding copies of their book Influence: Building a Platform That Elevates Jesus (Not Me)

“How exciting, @katemotaung!” I commented, “Just purchased – can’t wait to read!!”

And I read: “God is the one who lights the lamp, and God is the One who sets it on a stand. He doesn’t tuck it away where no one would see it. No, God is strategic! He lights up our understanding and then sets us on a stand. A platform. And what is God’s strategic end goal? Is He calling attention to the lamp? Does He intend for people to gather around and admire its brightness? No, He wants others to be drawn to the light, that the light might spread.” (51)

How has God worked through me? I asked myself. Through my spiritual gifts: service, generosity, and leadership. That’s how I build community and offer hope to others on their journeys.

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This morning, one more helper showed up, in Richard Rohr’s reflection: “…we can only lead people on the spiritual journey as far as we ourselves have gone. We simply can’t talk about it beyond that. That’s why the best thing we can do for people is to stay on the journey ourselves. We transform people to the degree we have been transformed.”

So, I’m staying on the journey, because building a platform is part of my transformation.

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P.S. Yesterday at church, I played flute in ensemble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fqiLvadqqk — about two minutes into the recording. Building a platform, sharing my gifts.