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Thursday, December 09, 2010

When I met a Publishing Me Monster

Yesterday I read this post by Micheal Hyatt about two kinds of leaders, one narcissistic and one other-centered. It reminded me of an encounter I had at a book trade show one year. I was relatively new to the author scene at that point. A new friend, gracious and famous in his own right, took me around the floor of the show, looking for a specific author to introduce me to. He felt we were a good match in terms of what we wrote about and figured we'd like to meet.

We did run into the author. My gracious friend introduced me. The man half-extended his hand to me, then looked over my head, not catching my eye. I could sense my friend's alarm as the famous author continued to "uh huh" while he looked around for more important people to meet. In short, he was a Me Monster.

After that meeting, I vowed that if I ever became "famous" (ha ha ha), I'd try my best to be deeply engaged when I met people for the first time. I'm sure I've had times of distraction. But the idea of engagement reminds me of author Randy Alcorn's advice at the first writing conference I attended. He said any fame that comes our way is simply an avenue to serve more (not to be served.)

I've run into supersar authors who are gracious and engaging. And I've encountered superstars who love their stardom more than people. May it be that we as authors become the former--deeply interested in people, not buying into the press about ourselves.

Before I attended that first conference where Randy Alcorn spoke, I had a painful encounter. It was as if the story of my life flashed before me, particularly the trials. "Jesus," I said. "I've had a lot of trials."

His answer to me has haunted and spurred me: "Yes, you've withstood many trials," He said. "But will you withstand the trial of notoriety?" That's been my prayer ever since--to not only withstand that trial if notoriety comes, but to do well. I don't want to be a Me Monster. I don't want to have my books be all about me, my sales, my fame, my my my.... I want to serve, to listen, to facilitate healing in others. And I certainly can't do that if I'm filled to the rim with myself.

What about you? Have you met a publishing Me Monster? What do you do today to prevent yourself from becoming one?

Mary DeMuth writes about healing from the past, the subject of her fiction and nonfiction, at http://www.marydemuth.com.

13 comments:

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Love that sentence about any fame coming our way being an avenue to serve more. Yep, I've met a ME monster.

Being humbled helps and finding a way to learn from humility.

Your desire to not have it be all about you speaks volumes about the kind of person you are.
~ Wendy

Mary DeMuth said...

thanks Wendy. Yes, those are Randy's words, and they have stuck to my ribs (and heart) these many years.

Heather Sunseri said...

"He said any fame that comes our way is simply an avenue to serve more (not to be served.)"

Love this!!!

Mary DeMuth said...

He spoke about bringing books with him wherever he went. He'd give them away to hotel clerks, taxi drivers, etc.

Laurie Wallin said...

For me, as I grow into what God's building in my life, I intentionally repost others first before my own material, and I spend my first half hour of the day supporting other people's work. They all teach me so much, and it helps me feel a connection to the community instead of being a me-monster.

Mary DeMuth said...

Laurie, I love how intentional you are. That inspires me!

Gina Holmes said...

Certainly have met me-monsters, who I strongly suspect are simply insecure. It's funny to see someone so talented yet humble like Randy next to someone maybe less talented but full of themselves. I think God keeps most of us humble. I know He does me, even if others don't always get that. Perceptions are often way off the mark. That author you met could very well have been looking for his/her lost child. Maybe not, but it could have been something like that.

Mary DeMuth said...

True, Gina. Which is (of course) why I didn't name him. :)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I love this post! Yes, I have met a Me-monster, and one so blatant that I was interested to read Gina's comment here. True, we can never be one hundred percent sure our perceptions are correct. But in the case of this author, she was so unapologetically, openly, and constantly a Me-monster that it was as if I had met someone from a different species than our typical ACFW wonderful, humble author. I think we have to be careful about being so reluctant to discuss matters of discernment that we can no longer identify destructive behavior. I think Mary handled it perfectly here: she discussed the problem without making it personal.

I have often wondered about that Me-monster I met and observed on more than one occasion: Wow, does this woman have no good friends in the writing community to tell her in a spirit of love that she is a wee bit insufferable and sticks out like a sore thumb? :-) I know that I value the friends most who will tell me when I'm being insufferable. They're the ones who love me the most.

By the way, this Me-monster has no idea who I am, so my conscience is clear that that she will not be identifiable through this post.

Mary DeMuth said...

Well put in terms of community and helping each other out. Unfortunately Me-Monsters tend to produce an aura of unapproachability. And when you confront, they typically don't see it as a loving gesture. :)

Donna Perugini said...

Your thought provoking words, Me Monster, sound so much like the description of a two year old.

Rather than tsk! tsk! my neighbor, I lean toward what you discovered,

"His answer to me has haunted and spurred me: "Yes, you've withstood many trials," He said. "But will you withstand the trial of notoriety?" That's been my prayer ever since--to not only withstand that trial if notoriety comes, but to do well. I don't want to be a Me Monster. I don't want to have my books be all about me, my sales, my fame, my my my.... I want to serve, to listen, to facilitate healing in others. And I certainly can't do that if I'm filled to the rim with myself."

Thanks for the posting!

Anonymous said...

A great post, Mary! Me Monsters is sure a great term for what over-inflated egos can do to people. And I can never imagine the Mary De Muth I was so privileged to meet at the ACFW Denver conference ever having that problem - even now you ARE a famous writer! And I've tried to publish this but for some reason my Google account isn't being accepted, hence the nonymous Mary Hawkins!

Millie Samuelson said...

Hi Mary -- This is such a great blog! I'd love to use it/you as my guest blogger on Hoosier Ink (hoosierink.blogspot.com) on Jan 14. If you agree, I can easily copy and paste what you have here. Thanks for this powerful message for all of us writers, expressed with such wit and inspiration!
milliens@aol.com