This piece originally appeared on the ACFW blog on March 29, 2016.
Who wants to be ordinary? If I asked that question at an ACFW conference, I doubt anyone would raise their hand. For some reason, ordinary has become associated with dull, listless, uninteresting and uninspiring. As writers, we may be content to live ordinary lives, but we want our writing to be extraordinary, to be the kind of work that everyone talks about and that inspires greatness in others.
As Michael Horton writes in his excellent book, Ordinary, “Our life has to count! We have to leave our mark, have a legacy, and make a difference. And all of this should be something that can be managed, measured, and maintained.”
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us would say, “Yes! I want my writing to count, to leave a mark, a legacy and to make a quantifiable—and noticeable—difference!”
But what if for most of us, our writing lives turn out to be more ordinary than extraordinary? What if we have end up with an average list of published books with average sales numbers? In other words, what if God is calling many of us to be mid-list authors?
Would we be content with that? Would we think our writing in vain if we never reach more than thousands of readers rather than hundreds of thousands of readers? Would we continue to strive to write the best ordinary women’s fiction or the best average romantic suspense novels or the best everyday historical fiction?
I’ve been pondering this lately as I think about my own writing goals. To be honest, I’m struggling with this idea of ordinary as a good thing, as a God-given calling to make a difference in the small area in which He has placed me. I might never sell hundreds of thousands of books (or even hundreds of books). I might never hit a best-seller list. I might never have a robust speaking circuit.
I might, in fact, live a quite ordinary life.
And what I’m slowly coming to terms with is that I’m okay with that. What I’m striving for is that I should be more than okay: I should rejoice in the very ordinariness of my existence. Not that it means I’m settling for meritocracy—heaven forbid!—but that I’m embracing where I am and living that life to its fullest, richest way possible. That I’m writing the books He has given me to write. That I’m encouraging other writers in this wonderful calling we share. That I’m content with where I am in my writing career and enjoying the ordinariness of everything with a passion and perseverance to continue running this race to the best of my average ability.
So to all of you who are, well, ordinary, remember that to be ordinary in a life God has give you is to be truly extraordinary in all the ways that matter most.