The Middle

First of all,  I’m so sorry this post wasn’t up this morning.  I would blame Friday the 13th but the truth is, I thought today was Friday the 12th and  my inability to read a calendar resulted in the inability to get my post up on time.  Anyway…

Have y’all seen the show “The Middle“?  I love it… and average family from middle America does average things and does them in a mediocre way.  What’s not to love?  (Sidenote:  I read this aloud to my husband and his answer was:  “Sure, it’s great as long as you don’t mind watching people who are poorer than you, uglier than you and less talented than you do things that you do everyday.”  Touché.)

But, as it turns out, talent and wealth aside, when it comes to writing, I am a lot like the Hecks.   I think a lot of writers are.  Yes, getting my book deal was a big deal.  Yes, seeing my book on the bookstore shelf for the first time was an amazing experience.  And, yes, I have sold a fair number of copies of my book.  But I’m not John Grisham.  Or even Ann Voskamp.  I’m a middle-of-the-road author.  And, if we’re honest, most authors are.

So, how do Middle Writers survive– and thrive in “The Middle”?

1.  Being in the middle doesn’t mean settling for mediocrity.  No, I probably won’t sell a million copies of my next book, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write it like millions are going to read it.  I choose to put forth my best work every day– regardless of whether it’s a short essay to be read by three people in my family or a book that will potentially be read by thousands.  Work hard to hone your craft and never settle for less than your best.

2.  Be realistic.  I admit– there are days that I daydream about multi-million dollar sales and huge contracts.  Days that I imagine the “what-ifs” of sold-out audiences and huge second printings.  But, then I get realistic.  And realize that those things would be nice– but they are not essential to my success as an author.

3.  Think about why you write.  I love putting words on paper.  I love making people laugh.  I love telling stories.  I love giving advice.  And, when I really get down to the nitty gritty of why I write, making money and selling books is not at the top of my list.  Which is a good thing.  So, when I find myself getting caught up in sales numbers and money and contracts and all that stuff, I remind myself why I write.  And remind myself that the rest is secondary.

4.  Build your platform where you are.  I write non-fiction, so platform is important.  But, as much as I’d love it, I’m probably not going to get Heidi Klum to endorse my book.  Or Oprah to put it on her book club list.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t work hard to build an awesome platform where I am.  I go to local Mom’s groups and speak.  I am heavily involved in MOPS.  I write for several parenting magazines.  I blog about what I love.  All those things build platform– even for authors in “The Middle”.

5.  Don’t be afraid to dream about “the Top”.  I know I just told you to be realistic but it’s also important to have dreams– and some of those dreams can involve “the Top”.  Set your sights high.  Live the dream.  Write like you’re going to make it big.  And never give up on your dream.
Question for you:  How do you thrive in “The Middle” (Or, if you’re not in “The Middle”, how do you like the view from “The Top”?

8 Replies to “The Middle”

  1. Great thoughts, Erin. Personally, I believe the middle is where we learn the most. At the bottom, we’re too busy scratching and clawing our way to a better _____ (fill in the blank). At the top, we’re too busy maintaining a status quo, topping the last book’s sales, and worrying that someone else might be doing it better. The middle is the crawl space. The oxygen tank of learning. Where we understand the growth in climbing and work on honing our skills to make a run at the top. Frankly, I love the middle. We can offer encouragement both up and down the ladder.

    1. I kinda like the middle, too, Donna. And, you’re right, I’ve learned a lot being here.

  2. I like your perspective – how important we are to other people has no place in our lives as Christians, it’s only our importance to God that matters.

    I used to be in a sales filed and went to many a seminar on how to be successful in business. After an adjustment in my attitude, I would always come away with a little bit of truth amidst the sales pitches. Ultimately I realized that if I focused on what was important – my clients and their needs- the success came as a benefit. I considered it a huge privilege to help people with their purchase of a home and became very (not hugely) successful.

    As an aspiring author I choose to follow the advice the Lord gave to me all those years ago; “just do the best you can do and leave the rest to me.” I consider that my life’s theme. His way is always better than my way and if I become a published author it’s because that’s what He wants for my life not what I want.

    1. This is a really good point, Sandy. I think so often we strive to be successful in the eyes of the world and forget about how important it is to be successful in the eyes of the Lord– which may look a lot different.

  3. Erin, great post!

    I’m definitely not at the top…and not sure I’ve even seen the middle from where I am. Today I had a radio show interview and they clearly forgot about me. Talk about a reminder that I’m Little Mz. Nobody.

    A good place to be, I think.

  4. Excellent points. 1-3 especially spoke to me. Thanks for the reminder we don’t have to be at the ‘top’ to be a success! (:

  5. I like your comment that we’re not necessarily in this business to sell a lot of books and make a lot of money. Would it be nice? Sure! But that’s not going to be a satisfying goal for most writers, as the vast majority do not become bestsellers. Thanks, Erin!

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