Aug 23, 2013

Being a Pretend Extrovert

Writing is an interesting thing. Generally writers (I think) are people-watchers. Because we aren't all that social, we watch people. I have friends who regularly post things about how to know if you are an introvert, how to care for an introvert, why being introverted is the new awesome. Introversion is like, a fad right now. And I find it kind of embarrassing and self-indulgent. But it doesn't make things any less true... perhaps part of the reason the fad took off so spectacularly is us Introverts (see my self-indulgent capitalization there) have spent most of our lives wondering what's wrong with us, or feeling like we're somehow missing or lacking in some strength or quality, that we don't enjoy large, loud parties or run for class president or make friends with everybody.

As a writer, we all run into this at some point, too. Why do I struggle to hand out bookmarks at book signings? Why do I have a problem selling my story, even though I love it and really do think other people will love it? Why don't I schedule a dozen book signings per year and walk out of the bookstore completely unfazed I've sold less than half-dozen copies because the experience of talking with and meeting scores of people was fulfilling enough?

There are writers who love that kind of thing. Who are that magical blend of creative/introspective and extrovert. I'm not one of those. I think most of us writers aren't, in fact.

I'm dreading this whole book launch thing at the same time as I enjoy planning it, enjoy collecting reviewers over the internet, (written conversations = so much easier with strangers than face to face)I actually dread the actual thing.

I've realized that one thing that is expected of me is to gain a "following" online. In fact, one article I read actually said that I'm supposed to gain "stalkers," people who get addicted to my life and follow it like some kind of lurid TV series or soap opera or something. Well, unfortunately, I'm not really that exciting. With this blog, my purpose has never been to gain a "following" but to express things and have real conversations with others. I can think of it that way on this blog, on twitter, on Facebook and feel more OK about things.

The other day, my Father-in-Law said something that stung a bit. I mentioned I'd said something on Facebook that I had forgotten to pass on to family by word-of-mouth, and apologized. My father-in-law then said, "well, we all know how much you LOVE facebook." Like i'm some kind of teenager who posts statuses about what she eats for lunch and if I get enough likes I'll tell you whether I'm in love with you or not, and post self-portraits constantly with self-obsessed or manipulative captions.

Oh sigh.

Well, I love you guys, anyway. The people who tend to read my stuff and comment tend to be people I'd be friends with in real life. So.... I can handle it.


Joy Buhler said...

I think there's all types of writers. Writers who preach, writers who teach, writers who tell, writers who show.
There takes a certain amount of silence, introspection and relationship with inspiration to be a truly honest writer no matter where you fit on the extrovert/introvert curve.
Some writers are natural or learned extroverts and others will never be learned extroverts, and that's okay.
But yeah, introversion is enjoying a comeback right now in our society for better or worse. The reality is most of us fall somewhere on the spectrum. My best friend is a pretend extrovert. Many people I know are "pretend" extroverts. Just give yourself some time to recharge in the way you know how you recharge best, and you'll be okay.

Krista Quintana said...

I think it's interesting that writers do tend to be more of the introverted types - the kinds that observe and often do need to escape into their own worlds - yet we're still expected to step out of that comfort zone so that we can feel like we're 'real' or 'accomplished' writers.
I love how you're willing to accept yourself as you are and not try and force yourself into the premade boxes that a lot of writers tend to get stuck in.