Passage to Purpose #6
I had been attending the Southern Christian Writers Guild for several months when Milena Rimassa, the Northshore Bureau Chief for NOLA.com was introduced as the guest speaker. She shared her film making and writing experiences and then invited the members of the Guild to post articles to a new feature on NOLA.com – The Faith, Beliefs and Spirituality Blog.
“What’s a blog?” inquired one of the guild members.
Blog is short for Web Log. Whenever someone posts an article the top article moves down forming a log of material on a specific subject. All interested Guild members would be assigned a password to the blog so we could post an article on the theme of faith, beliefs or spirituality at our discretion. I had a lot of Bible lessons at home that could have been fodder for the new blog. Teaching was no longer an option for me, and I didn’t want to revisit that pain. I had moved on to writing short fiction stories and skits.
My first fiction story, “Eliohym’s Words”, about a wavering angel was on the now defunct Amazon Shorts program. I had planned to write a series of stories about Waver, the name of the main character described his nature. But Amazon.com’s exclusive contract prohibited me from using the material elsewhere. The skits I wrote were my only possibility.
I raised my hand to get Milena’s attention. “What about videos of skits performed by my drama team?”
“That would be a great idea,” Milena replied.
I left the guild interested but not enthused. Until I did some research. NOLA.com is the sole internet affiliate of the Times Picayune, the largest newspaper in the state of Louisiana. The stats were phenomenal. The website received millions of page views monthly. Most of the viewers are not looking for something religious, but that much traffic guaranteed an audience for the blog and gave me a platform.
“Platform”- a venue for an author to expose their work to an audience is very important for a writer. There is no point in writing if no one reads it and it’s the first thing a publisher looks for when considering new authors. Milena had not offered compensation. I settled for the compensation of a “platform” thinking I would be one of many contributors. I planned to post the videos of my skits and an occasional devotion.
When I received my password, I posted an article I had written about my sister’s long struggle with drug abuse, and followed that article with a testimony of an answered prayer. A smattering of other articles appeared on the blog from the other writers. Then I posted “Immigration”, the video of a skit I co-wrote with a friend about three people attempting to enter Heaven.
While attending a minister’s meeting, the Presbyter talked about the miraculous rebirth of House of Prayer that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. “Someone should record these stories,” he said. I knew the pastor of the church, so I did. I made a video of pastors Jon and Elizabeth Smith talking about their journey from youth pastors to senior pastors, the loss of their church and decision to rebuild. The video was edited into a six part series and released on the blog weekly.
One day, I noticed that I was the only one posting to the blog and wondered if I was wasting my time. I contacted Milena. “I thought writing for the blog was a collaborative effort.” My statement, more of a question, was met with silence. Milena didn’t know why the others were not posting material. It was unfair of me to ask. My next question, “Can you tell me if anyone is reading the blog?”
“I’ll check and let you know,” said Milena.
Several days later she sent me an email with the stats. “The blog is widely read” began the email. Since its inception in May 2007 it had received 400 unique views weekly, an average of 2,000 people visited the blog monthly. In the words of one pastor, “That is more than most churches average in attendance.” Clearly, God had given me the venue the church had denied me.
The desire to teach had already died but I could not forsake writing. Milena had envisioned a community of writers submitting witty prose about the spirituality of New Orleans. She got a community of one – me. Two years later she returned to California, and I’m still writing. More about that in my next post.