I spent five days last week with a group of thirty-odd women speakers. That’s thirty-odd, not thirty, odd.
Maybe we were odd, come to think of it. If you could have heard us screaming and crying and laughing and praying, you might have thought we were odd.
I didn’t feel odd when I was with them. We had several things in common. We were Christians, we all felt called to speak to others about what God has done for us, and we had all suffered—lost children, broken relationships, illnesses or depression.
Well, then, we aren’t that odd. Every woman I know has suffered loss and pain.
As speakers, we need to figure out how to connect with others the way I was connected to those women. I’ve never lost a child or been abused as a child, but I could relate to those who had suffered those things, because I’ve had my own brand of suffering.
So what does this have to do with children’s writers?
To speak to any audience—librarians, school children, or writers’ groups—we have to find our point of commonality. We have to speak so our audiences can relate.
So, I was thinking this past week at the Christian Communicators Conference, and I plan to keep thinking this coming week, about my audience and my purpose. Have you ever done that? What is your target audience for your books? Is that going to be your target audience when you speak, too?
Yes, this applies to children’s novelists. We all have a message we are trying to pass on to future generations. Many of us have not thought it out, though. Take some time to think now.
Stephen Roxburgh once said writers have one book they keep writing over and over. Mine is the story of a neglected child looking for someone to take care of him. No matter what I start with, a neglected child always barges into my books demanding that I find a true love and a happy-ever-after ending for him.
What would be my purpose statement, then?
Maybe my purpose should be to help others find a safe home with Jesus, who loves them. That seems pretty broad, on the one hand. On the other hand, not broad enough. After all, some speeches and books aren’t about God at all. They may be about how to choose the best plumber. Or they may be about falling in love with a boy or defeating an evil empire. But if I keep my broad purpose statement in mind, it should help me decide which speeches I want to give and which books I want to write. So later, you know, when the world is banging down my door and people are offering me thousands to speak, I’ll know which gigs to take and which gigs to pass on.
What’s your story, and how does it inform your purpose for writing and speaking?