There are so many voices competing with each other: internet, news shows, even churches. “Follow me … read me … put your faith in my politics or spiritual outlook or life theme.” There are times I hate to add one more entry to the chorus.
When I was a girl living in Africa, street hawkers lined up selling their wares. To compete with others on the crowded street, they’d call out. “Over here, Madam! I have the best one, perfect for you! I will make you a special price!” Sometimes, they would even grab my arm. It was understandable; making a living in Africa was uncertain. But the vendor I was most likely to visit was the one standing quietly by his stall. He seemed less overwhelming.
When I visit my social media sites, I sometimes feel like those overly-aggressive vendors. If I want to get the word about my novel out, I do have to speak out. But I still think the answer lies in silence. To write a novel, what did I do? I took long walks alone, letting ideas ruminate and grow. I sat at my computer, sometimes just staring into empty space, letting characters’ voices take shape. I listened, and a story worth writing grew.
By the same token, when I pray, I don’t feel the need to shout at God and wave for His attention (usually). I sit with His Word and let it speak. I sit quietly in prayer and it’s then I sense His presence.
I think of the many saints and heroes and poets who turned off the noise and worries of their day so they could spend time alone with God, an hour or hours of their day. The apostles, too, even with all they had to accomplish, took hours to pray, to listen. Then, when they spoke, it wasn’t just more noise. They had something so worth hearing that people stopped what they were doing and listened. People came to them. Now I’m not saying our prayerful marketing will put us in a category with the apostles or make us the next Mother Teresa.
I am saying that if we speak from a place of pressure, that place where we have to get the word out, and we’re stressed about it, in combination with all of the other pressures – writing, work, family, finances – the desperation will show, and we’ll be that aggressive street hawker. On the other hand, if we spend time in silence, letting our marketing ideas well up from a place of peace and strength, it’s going to come across differently. Quiet confidence has its own language.
If we take time to listen our ideas might be fresher. If we call attention to our books after prayer, we’re more likely to feel in our bones that God holds our writing destinies and general good in His hands, and people will feel less bombarded. They’ll feel like it might be safe to stop by and see what we’re selling.
By all means, speak about your writing. But speak out of the silence.