“Platform” is a key catchphrase in the jargon-laden language of marketing. It’s something a writer is supposed to have and be able to describe, quantify, and contact when pitching a story or book for sale. Publishers want to know not just what you know, but who – and if you can count on that audience to buy your published work.
For a long time, I shied away from the very concept of “platform.” In my mind, I envisioned the ten-meter affair that athletes dive from during the Olympic games. No thank you. I don’t like heights, and I don’t dive. But I do write, and over time, I’ve learned to jump.
I started my adult writing career innocently enough, contributing columns to a local home health agency’s monthly newsletter. Before long, I was asked to write a parenting column for the local paper; a year later, I was writing for the editorial page. I was even getting paid. In time my essays were published in a statewide magazine. I had readers and received fan mail. The year I turned forty, I did something I’d avoided my whole life: I jumped off a three-meter cliff into deep water; I challenged myself to fly off a rope swing. With a solid local and developing regional platform, I felt secure enough to jump. I started a novel.
Those Olympic athletes don’t just fly; they also train for endurance. As I approached fifty, I ran a half marathon. I had drafted two novels. Then I learned to scull. The keys to rowing are balance and efficiency. I start most summer mornings on the Connecticut River at dawn. I’m learning to write faster, with focus.
I now have a whole new concept of “platform.” I no longer think of it as some scary precipice from which to launch myself in a spiraling death-dive. Now I think of my platform as a stone foundation, square and plumb, on which I’m constructing a sound writing career. My platform is more like a launch-pad than a precipice – a safe place from which I can soar.
Deborah Lee Luskin is the author of the award-winning novel, Into The Wilderness, “a fiercely intelligent love story” set in Vermont in 1964. She is a regular Commentator on Vermont Public Radio and teaches for the Vermont Humanities Council. Learn more at her website: www.deborahleeluskin.com