Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WHAT ABOUT ME??????


 
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored fourteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Road to Kingdom series, “Inescapable,” came out in July of 2012. The second book, “Unbreakable” released in February of 2013.
All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”
Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com or her blog www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com. She is also active on Facebook.


What About Me????

The journey from aspiring writer to published author is, at the very least, interesting. I’m sure most of us offered up the “If you’ll give me the chance, Lord, I’ll use my career to glorify You” prayer. And we meant it. At one point, with all the honesty I possessed, I put my writing future on the altar, giving it all to Him. I’ve never removed it from His hands. But…

With a measure of success came some side effects I didn’t see coming. Attitude adjustments are constant. One of the first surprises is the appearance of the green-eyed monster. “Why is she on the best-seller list?” I murmur, first making sure no one else can hear me. “I can write rings around her.” Or “Why did they sign him and not me?” Most authors immediately recognize the whiny voice of the jealousy demon and banish it forthwith. First hurdle down. Big sigh of relief.

Then, like Creeping Charlie, the demon crawls back, unnoticed. It reveals itself a little differently this time. Through comparison. Does my agent have a better reputation than hers? Is my publisher larger? How much was her advance? What does her contract say? Whoops. The demon’s repulsive fingerprints are unmistakable.  At first glance, comparison doesn’t seem like jealousy…but it is. So once more we drive out the vile creature who wants to separate us from our previous vow – to glorify God with our writing.

For the most part, Christian authors are great about confronting these attacks from the enemy. We know these feelings and thoughts are wrong, and we deal with them. For some it might be harder than others. Most of the time insecure writers have the toughest time. But eventually we cast out our green-eyed nemesis, hopefully for good this time. Surely we’re walking the straight and narrow now, right?

Don’t get too cocky yet, Bubba. Last year I had to deal with an even more insidious attack. It happens slowly, and nothing about it seems wrong – until one day when you suddenly realize the Trickster has wriggled back into your life through another entrance. Through a backdoor that most of us don’t keep closed. Unfortunately, this assault can end up being the worst soul stealer or all. Cloaked in positive words and encouraged by agents, publishers and fellow authors, before you even realize it, you’re caught in its talons. You find yourself being consumed by this new monster. Its name?

Promotion.

Before all my author friends out there come after me with pitchforks and torches, let me explain. Of course I realize promotion is important. Something we have to do. I try hard to promote my books. My publisher does a great job as well, and I appreciate it. But what can happen if you’re not very, very grounded and aware of the potential for disaster, is that all this promotion turns your complete attention on…YOU. First you’re flooded with interviews. Tell us about YOU. How do YOU feel about… What were YOU thinking when YOU wrote… Where do YOU want to be in five years? You get the idea. Your picture is popping up all over the Internet. Your book is featured in magazines and catalogs. Readers (and author friends) send you pictures of your book in stores. It’s exciting and fun! Please hear me out. None of this is wrong. In fact, it’s exactly what should be happening. As good reviews pour in and people ask to be added to your Facebook page, you wake up every day eager to see what people are saying about YOU today! Google searches under your name reveal new reviews and articles about YOU! And then one day you roll out of bed with a headache, not sure what happened to your joy. I mean, everyone’s talking about YOU! Shouldn’t YOU be happy?

This scenario played out when the first book in my Kingdom series was released. After a few weeks of promotional activities, I felt wrung out, tired, and discouraged. I just couldn’t figure out why. Then one Sunday evening I walked into church and slumped down in a pew. Suddenly, as if Someone shone a big spotlight on my life, it all became extremely clear to me. All I’d been thinking about was ME! My efforts over the past several weeks had been about ME and MY book. Everything else had taken a back seat. Because I was so busy, I hadn’t been involved in any of my volunteer group activities. I’d missed a lot of church because I was too tired to go. Even my prayer life had suffered. I was tired because concentrating too much on ourselves doesn’t bring us any joy. Proverbs 11:24-25 makes this clear.

There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.


I had no joy because I wasn’t sowing seeds of joy. I was drying up because I wasn’t watering anyone else’s life.

So what does an author (or anyone else) do when they realize the demon of self-centeredness has its hairy hands around their throat?

For me, the answer was to get involved in the lives of others. Starting the Suspense Sisters helped me to concentrate on other authors - to help and encourage them. Starting a private group with other ladies wanting to lose weight has been a great source of joy. Going back to my volunteer group brought my perspective back. Just having something on my mind besides ME and MY books has been a Godsend.

For those who don’t write, hang on. This principle doesn’t just work for busy authors. It works for everyone.

I heard a story once about a woman who was drowning in depression. She contacted her pastor, asking for a counseling appointment. Her pastor, a very wise man, said this: “I’ll be glad to meet with you next week. But before our meeting, I want you to do something. I want you to bake cookies for someone. Someone who is hurting or needs encouragement.”

The puzzled woman agreed, although she couldn’t figure out why in the world her pastor would request something so odd.

The next week, before the time she was supposed to meet with the pastor, the woman called and cancelled her appointment. “I just don’t have the time,” she said hurriedly. “There are a lot of people I know who need encouragement. It never would have occurred to me that something as simple as baking cookies could be a…ministry. My depression has completely disappeared. Thank you, Pastor.”

This lady learned what I did. Too much concentration on self can bring depression. Whether you’re an author, a busy housewife and mother, or a nuclear physicist, if you’re battling the blues, do something for someone else! Give joy and it will be given back to you, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing.

By the way, if you decided to follow the path of the woman who baked cookies, coconut macaroons are my very favorite. J

 

 

17 comments:

  1. This is so true. Helping people does put a smile on your face and bring joy. My major problem is that sometimes I give too much and don't leave anything for me. I really enjoyed your post!!

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    1. Thanks, Melissa. You've brought up an important point. Going too far the other way can leave us drained and feeling depressed. I guess balance is the key!

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  2. So many good points in your post that apply to so many things. For instance, I occasionally sing solos at church. I know that my voice is okay and nothing outstanding but it is so nice to hear people say how beautiful it is and how much they enjoy hearing me sing. The music director will tell me how the choir just isn't the same when I'm not there (small choir) as well as the pianist agreeing. Makes it so easy to start thinking it is you and not Him.

    Thanks for the great post.

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    1. We all have those areas, Cindy, where the enemy likes to get in. I find that people who are depressed are always thinking about themselves. Usually, it's the past - or a situation they can't do much about. If we would only learn to cast our care and trust God. Our lives would be so much happier.

      Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Thank you for writing this..I know I have been struggling with what can I do to help my sister who has disowned me and now is in a mental hospital.No matter what Ive done nothing helps.I then decided to concentrate on giving it to God and let him lead..Looking forward to seeing what he can do and in the meantime working on encouraging others.Gives a sense of peace.It helps to know you are human to ...love ya

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    1. I love you too, Donita.

      Sorry you've been going through this. Family situations are tough. I have one too. But you're right. Giving it to God is the only thing that will bring us any peace.

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  4. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the "Me" game. It's funny you mentioned dieting, each time I decide it's time to shed a few pounds the focus immediately becomes about "me" and what "I" can eat. It seems that every moment is a focus on myself. Yet when I become busy serving others I don't focus on the food, I use up more energy and before I know it I've lost the pounds I was so concerned about.
    It's almost as though scripture knows what it's talking about when it tells us to "Seek first the kingdom of God". :O)

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    1. What a great point. You are sooo right. This is another area I need to be aware of. Thank you for bringing it up.

      Blessings!

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  5. I spend time with my cats and it makes them and me feel good. I liked your previous post about cozy mysteries; they're my favorite type of book to read.

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    1. I feel the same way about my dog, Michelle. He sticks right by my side, and he seems to know when I need to cuddle. He's such a blessing to me.

      Thanks for the comment about cozy mystery. I love them too. Writing or reading! LOL!

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  6. Nancy, what a great post. I really didn't know that authors struggle with such issues but then again when you are writing to glorify God you know that satan is lurking just to see you fall on your face and so it only makes sense that he wants it to be all about "You."

    I have been focusing on me as a result of half my family shunning me because of lies a family member told about me. To this very day, I don't know what I supposedly said or did. I need to get over feeling sorry for myself because I find myself on the outside looking in. Since God knows the truth I need to focus on Him and how I can Glorify Him in helping others thus taking the focus off of myself.
    Thank you so much Nancy!
    Blessings!
    Judy

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    1. You're welcome, Judy. I applaud you for facing this situation and refocusing yourself on Him. Sometimes it's hard, but to glorify God in our lives, we've got to become more like Christ who gave himself completely for us. Praying for both of us that we can do it. :)

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  7. What a great post. I remember a Dear Abby column from years past, when she responded to someone who was blue and lonely over the holidays every year with that same type of advice: to spend the holidays helping others.

    What you wrote is applicable to people of all kinds, not just writers. Bless you!

    And thanks so much for giving so much time and effort to the Suspensesisters!

    Roxanne

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    1. Thanks, Roxanne. I love working with all of you.

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  8. Loved the story about the pastor telling the woman to bake cookies. Enjoyed the rest of your blog as well. Hugs, Susan Fryman

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  9. Hi Nancy,

    Great post. I'm aspiring to become a published author, and I appreciate your honesty and advice. I found your post especially intriguing because you have already found success as an author, and I often consider how best to balance being relevant in my work while while still glorifying God with all aspects of my life. I've often imagined the additional promotional demands I would face once published, and your post has offered great advice.

    I hope that I will be able to utilize some of the advice you've given while promoting my own book in the future. :o)

    Thanks for posting. God bless,
    Ashley
    AshleyLynchHarris.com

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