The other day one of my two office mates was saying how she is not like me in that I can pretty much talk to anyone in a room. I can find people to laugh with, or with whom I have a common interest. She may have used the word “bubbly” to describe me. She definitely has seen that side of me; a side required by my job many times.
To be fair, though, that is not the me that most people see. I was one of those kids everyone told to smile*. People still say this to me. I’m 38** (as of yesterday). I want to hit people when they say that. It’s not that I’m scowling, it’s my face. Please stop making me self conscious about my face. I mean, it’s my FACE. It turns out, though, that there is a name for this. It’s called a resting b*tch face (I’ll save my rant for offline). Who knew? I think the RBF is found among women who are introverts. And I am definitely an introvert. Sure, I never shut up, but if you were to ask me what the ideal weekend is I’d answer with some combination of: time alone in my house, being in the woods with the dogs, reading… I, like all introverts, get my energy from being on my own. I learned once in a workshop that you’re supposed to say it’s where you get your “power” but I don’t really have power. I especially lack upper body strength (despite being awesome at tennis).
My tendencies, if I were left to my own devices, would be to interact with as few humans as possible. I wonder what the extrovert/introvert ration is in writers. I’d wager more of us are introverts. But we have to connect with others. That’s vitally important. Here’s why.
- Practice Makes Perfect: In addition to being an introvert, I’m incredibly awkward. I say stupid things all of the time. Usually I find them funny or interesting or things the world needs to know. And other people just look at me. Now, imagine me going to a conference and trying to network and connect with others. Agents, other writers, editors. It’s important to know how to conduct yourself with others. Again, introverts are different from shy people. Introverts, though, can become reclusive enough that they forget things like how to moderate their voices (Kris told me I was “getting excited” at breakfast this morning. This translates to, “Would you quit being so loud?!”)
- Networking: I find out everything I find useful through connections to others. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face, but it does require getting out of my own head and space. I started reading this blog recently (it’s awesome, you should read it to) and while flipping around I found out about two awesome things. First, this club to which I need to belong (already printed my app and am filling it in, I have a loooooooong way to go). I thought it was some sort of cycling/wine thing but no. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse. It’s awesome. That’s what matters. I also learned about the Wine Bloggers Conference, an annual national conference for wine bloggers (did I really need to say that?). I’m a wine blogger over at an emerging wine website. And now I’m going to this – after speaking to the owner of the blog we agreed this would be a great experience for me. It’s in the Finger Lakes this year, a place I was going to go to anyway for a weekend to do some vineyard tours and interviews. If I were only writing in my house, tucked into my own little world, I wouldn’t have found either of these things. Get off your own page and check out blogs of others in your wheelhouse – you never know what will further your career.
- Curate Your Stories: In addition to wine blogging I write fiction (I’d like that to be my primary source of work some day). But my house, while pretty, is not a place where I get ideas. My ideas come from being out and about in the world. From the conversations I eavesdrop on in coffeeshops, first dates I sit next to at bars, people who cross my path when I’m traveling… you can’t create fiction based soley on your head, you have to get out there and live life, which often requires interacting with others. Only then do you get material you can fictionalize.
What about you? Are you an introvert or extrovert? What impact does it have on your creative process?
*Don’t do this – it’s creepy.
** I still think I’m 34.