About Olivia Newport

Olivia Newport writes novels that twist through time to explore the faith and passions that make us who we are. Sometimes she manages to do this from the Brazilian hammock hanging on her patio. Chocolate? Of course. Coffee? Not so much. Walking her feet off? Absolutely.

This Business of Story

Fall Road Olivia Newport

photo by Lorri Nussbaum http://www.keeperscards.com


On the day that I’m writing this, I’ve typed the word novelist several times and it keeps coming out noveling. “I’m a novelist” comes out “I’m noveling.”

Well. There’s something arresting there, especially since I decided long ago to write about “this business of story.”

I love stories. I read stories. I write stories. I live stories, with plot and character conflicts disassembling my tidy life plans every day. I share stories when I go deep in conversation with friends or walk beside them through their dry valleys. The fact is I see bits and pieces of stories flung around my ordinary day.

Dialogue. Humor. Moods. Obstacles. Disappointments. Faith gone dark. Determination. Overcoming. What it is that binds me to story?

My meanderings around this business of story take me to some dead ends and some scary places.

• Can I sell stories? We’ll find out when my contracted books start releasing.

• Can I survive the story of the storytelling industry, which seems to have a new cliffhanger every week?

• Can I shape stories? What am I contributing to the lives of people I care about?

• Can I sustain myself with stories? Can I make a living as writer? Can I carve out the time to feed my soul with the fruit of writing even if I don’t make a penny?

I tend to want to be at the end of stories. As a novelist I want to write stories that keep readers turning pages to get to the end. But I also want to know how things turn out in my own life story. What will be the payoff for my efforts, whether it be in relationships, ministry, or the next manuscript?

Almost every month, though, someone in my book group turns to a page to read aloud a striking passage that stills my hurrying. Mentally my tongue sloshes around trying to slurp up the wisdom and craft dripping from the words I hear. One exquisite paragraph, the precision of one sentence, even just one delicious word—story mingles in the writer’s choices, and zest lingers long after the book is closed. How could I have missed those morsels in my own reading? It’s a reminder to me of the splendor of being on the way somewhere, rather than being at the end of the story.

This business of story is about seeing life through a lens of story. We capture life within the words we wrestle onto the page. The meaning of moments comes into focus when the time is ripe.

As much as I want to understand the business of story to make a living as a storyteller, I want even more to understand the business of living a good story.

So I am “noveling” after all. I may just hang onto that accidental word.

How is your noveling going?

Note: On the day this posts, I’ll be driving across four states to be with extended family on Thanksgiving for the first time in six years. I’ll be on the lookout for free wi-fi along the way to check in with comments. Even if I’m late to the discussion, though, I hope you will find richness in conversation.

Introvert Marketing in an Extrovert Market

My name is Olivia Newport and I am an introvert.

I’m not a hermit. Rich relationships nourish me, and my peeps keep me buoyant. Speaking, preaching, or leading a workshop do not scare me. But they take from me, rather than give to me.

At least 25 percent of the general population are introverts and charge up during time alone. Among writers, the percentage of introverts likely rises.

The rub comes because the rest of publishing runs on a 75 percent extrovert mindset. “Why Writers Have to Market.” “Ten Steps to Building Your Platform.” “Authors Must Be Speakers.” “How to Suck All the Readers in the World to Your Blog!” (Okay, I haven’t actually seen that last headline, but you know it’s a game winner.)

Um. Markets and platforms are places where hordes of people hang out. And since I don’t fuel my creative energy by hanging out with hordes of people … well, you see where this is going.

I do want to be a novelist. I do want to build an audience. I do want to be successful over the long haul.

My challenge is this: How can I accomplish these goals without feeling thrust into a 75 percent extrovert mindset that is counter-intuitive to who I am? I’m not talking about the work of learning new skills, including social media. We all have to do that. I’m talking about being able to meet readers out of the strength of my natural introversion, rather than being squeezed to set it aside in order to play the game.

I can’t turn myself into an extrovert. I don’t even want to pretend to be one for periods of time. It’s exhausting, and how does that help? As I got ready to launch a website and blog, I thought a lot about how to build an online presence based on my strengths, not on rules that are a foreign language to me.

• Be present. It’s not hard to find me. You find my name, you find me. I don’t spurn social media, and I don’t make it tricky to be cyber-friends.

• Seek connection. I like people. Really. My heart rejoices with those who rejoice and weeps with those who weep.

• Risk authenticity. I’m not perfect. I’m figuring life out as I live it. I love to go deep and share that experience with others doing the same.

• Build on consistency. I am a creature of habit and lists. I’m generally predictable. This will serve me well in an expanding author-reader universe.

• Celebrate being me. I’m not competing in that reality show, “She Who Dies With the Most Wins.” Embracing and celebrating the person God created me to be is the greatest value I offer to readers.

We all connect with readers by building on strengths. Being introverted is a different sort of strength than 75 percent of the population, but it serves me well because it’s my strength and I understand it.

Are you introverted or extroverted? How does that affect your experience of publishing?