By C. Kevin Thompson
Watch this video, then we’ll talk.
Do you feel a little small after watching that video? Insignificant, perhaps? Hopefully awestruck, though, right?
Now, read this article, then come back for the finale.
I watched this video and read this article within a couple of weeks of one another. Although the article was not quite so factual, as Dan Balow notes at the end, it still caused me to do some thinking.When we got into this business, regardless of our place in it (i.e., unpublished author, icon status, or anywhere in between), we would be exceptions rather than the rule if we didn’t think, even for a few seconds, how nice it would be to be a bestselling author. Most authors I know had dreams (have dreams?) of writing full-time, seeing their books on the store shelves of every brick and mortar store across the fruited plain, that sort of thing. I think you know what I’m talking about, or am I the only one who struggles with this issue?
When you take the statistics of Balow’s piece, factor in numbers like present world population, the population of people to have existed between the years of publication of each book, something amazing–and humbling–happens.
Take Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo, for example. If the estimates of ten million copies sold are accurate since its publication date of 2010, there have been well over eight billion people in existence since that time. If you consider 60% of those to be of reading age, then 4,800,000,000 possible readers existed between 2010 and now (I know they all don’t read books in English, but just go with the flow for a moment because we do have international rights, and they could have picked up the book in their primary language ?).
When you divide the number of copies sold by the number of possible readers, you end up with 0.0020833333 or 0.20833333%. Not even one percent. If you consider the Book of Common Prayer or The Imitation of Christ with their top notch numbers of 300 million-plus and do the math, the percentage would be even lower because billions and billions of people have lived and died since 1418 and the mid-16th century, respectively.
Now, bring in the facet of us living on a planet so very small in this massive universe we call the cosmos, with billions of galaxies swirling in the inky blackness of space, and those sales numbers become even more miniscule by comparison.
What’s the point? We serve a mighty God. We may accomplish great things with our writing, but it’s all dross and rubbish compared to His infinite greatness.
To think that anyone would want to buy a book I wrote when there is so much good reading out there to be had is humbling. To think our God would even wish to use my feeble attempts at crafting a sentence to possibly reach a soul for His kingdom is awe-inspiring. To think He rules this vast cosmos yet has time to be concerned about my whether or not my manuscript gets published is wondrous.
This fills me with awe because I know how great God is in comparison to me.
When I hear students at my school parrot the chants of the masses, “The struggle is real,” I think to myself now, “Yes, it is. Because of sin. That is why we all struggle. Against God. Against each other. Even with ourselves.” But it wasn’t meant to be that way.
This fills me with humility. And sadness. Because as I contemplate the Lord’s glory, I know how much of me still needs to be transformed into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Hence, the struggle. A heart of joy for salvation’s gift hindered by a heart of pride because of a generous gift from God we call writing.
“Heavenly Father, the pen is yours. The paper is yours. The computer is yours. The words are yours. The books are yours. I am yours. Now, help me avoid the struggle and keep it that way. Everyday. “I am not the Creator, but a scribe with a pen. I’m recreating visions through a cracked and broken lens. And only One has ever seen the hope for which we long, and I am just a beggar who gives alms. Amen.”
C. Kevin Thompson’s novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, won the 2013 BRMCWC Selah Award (First Novel category). His second novel, 30 Days Hath Revenge-A Blake Meyer Thriller (Book 1), was also an award winner and will be available in reprint soon! Visit Kevin @ www.ckevinthompson.com: “Where imagination meets eternity.”
Thank you, Kevin. Great perspective and yank back into reality.
Even considering all that, with all His bigness, God is able to look into the tiniest portion of our writing, just like He looks into the atoms of the pollen on the flowers, and say, “I care about that.” The details count. So should we care about all that. And like you indicated in your prayer above, we should avoid the struggle, but care like He does about our details.
Thank you again for this encouraging perspective.
Beautifully said. Thank you!
Jen & Elaine, Thank you for your encouraging words.