By Chris Morris
Did you ever hear the one about the 6’7” accountant who barely kept himself from jumping in circles and wringing his hands in unadulterated joy when he met one of his writing heroes? No, well how about the one about the 6’7” chronic illness author who had the unbelievable privilege of receiving an endorsement for his book from one of his writing heroes?
Well, today is your lucky day, because I am going to share both with you.
Even though I don’t have many people I fanboy over, Mary DeMuth is someone I deeply admire, and it goes beyond her success as an author. In a world of platforming phonies, Mary chooses the path of transparency. She builds her brand based on who she really is, whether it’s perfect or not. Beyond that, she’s generous with what she knows. Oh, and she has published over 30 books. So, when I found out we were on faculty at the same conference, I was looking forward to learning from her and maybe building a friendship. I was approaching it very objectively, if I do say so myself.
But my ability to keep my cool went out the window when we first met at the airport. She walked up to the group and introduced herself as Mary. My mouth dropped wide open, and I said “As in DeMuth?”
I should have closed my mouth then. But I didn’t. Instead I just stared at her, wide-eyed and grinning like some ginormous idiot. My stupor only stopped when she said, “And you are?”
“A fanboy. I mean, Chris.” Yes, I did say that.
I eventually recovered a bit, and we started talking about writing and accounting (my two favorite topics). She told me that she would need to sit down with me and ask a few questions, because she didn’t trust her accountant. I giggled. Yes, like a schoolgirl.
It honestly wasn’t until the latter part of the conference that I was finally able to get over my fanboy tendencies and talk to her as a normal person, and I’m grateful she tolerated my stammering. We did sit down and talk through some accounting stuff. I had a cool moment where Mary told me that she was glad we met, because I helped her with questions she didn’t even know how to ask.
But more than that, we connected as fellow travelers on difficult paths, trying to find God in the midst of crazy circumstances. I talked with Mary about how much my daughter’s seizures affected our family, and she commiserated with some of her own stories.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I got an invitation from Mary to be on her podcast. We talked about my own journey with seizures, how it impacts my faith walk and my confidence as a parent. And again, we had a real connection, enough that she playfully told me I was her bestie.
A couple months after our interview, I sent an email to Mary and asked if she would be willing to consider an endorsement for my newest book – Perfectly Abnormal: Uncovering the Image of God in Chronic Illness. She replied almost immediately and said she would be happy to read it. A few days later, she sent me an endorsement that was, to be frank, stunning. I still get a big smile on my face every time I look at my book cover, which of course has that endorsement on it.
So, over the course of about six months, I have had the privilege of not only meeting one of my writing heroes, but I have unexpectedly been able to build a friendship with her. It’s still a bit surreal to me, if I’m being honest. To think, this started with a gape-jawed fanboy moment.
I’m not telling you this story so you can go buy my book. It’s really not even about the book at all. As I thought about this, I realized there’s likely some application for all of us as writers.We all have those people we simply adore, and would barely dare to dream about having any interaction with them, much less an endorsement for our books. But maybe we ought to stop dreaming about it, and instead figure out a way to build an actual connection with them. Who knows where it will end up? At worst, you might find a famous friend.
Chris Morris writes about redefining normal and building hope in the face of chronic illnesses and special needs. His writing is founded on the belief that circumstances don’t prevent thriving, but create opportunities for God to demonstrate his goodness. By day, he is the founder and managing partner of the creatively named accounting firm Chris Morris CPA, so Chris brings a unique analytic perspective to deeply emotional topics.