The Curse of the Introverted Writer
That’s all there is to it.
I feel awkward in crowds. Making small talk is a challenge. If I spend too much time around people I get anxious and need to barricade myself in the house for a while so I can recharge. I want to be charming and witty in social situations. I want to be the person who can network, and entertain, and all that jazz. But I’m just not.
Sometimes people (always outgoing people) tell me: if you don’t like being shy, work on changing it.
As if it’s that easy. As if being extraverted is a skill that can be learned.
Believe me, I’ve tried. When I was a kid my parents tried. My teachers tried. It never worked. I guess part of me hoped shyness was something I would outgrow. I haven’t. This is just how I am, how I suspect I’ll always be.
The problem is, I want to be a writer.
Why is that a problem? Writers are expected to be introverted. Writers write. They’re not movie stars. They don’t need to be in the public eye. Writers can hide in cabins in the mountains. They can avoid and ignore the rest of the world because all that matters is their stories, right?
Or, at least, wrong for most people.
I’m sure there are writers who are so amazing and talented and genius that they can do whatever they want. They don’t need to leave their mountain hideaway. Maybe people even love them more because they're reclusive. They're mysterious.
But for the rest of us, we need a platform. If we want to be successful we need to have an online presence. (Oh, and don’t I know all about building an online presence? Isn’t that what I focus on for forty hours every week, the forty hours spent at my real job?)
It’s not just about the story, it’s about the writer themself. Readers want to know the writer. They want to connect with them beyond their novels. Readers don’t just want to know the characters, they want to know the person who created the characters. At least, that’s what the internet tells me.
The thing is, I’m so introverted, I’m not comfortable with posting status updates on Facebook. I don’t even have a Twitter account. I hide from social media. It both annoys me and terrifies me.
Life today must be so easy for extraverts. Not just easy- exciting. So many ways of communicating with the world! So many ways to reach hundreds of people at once! I, on the other hand, have fantasies of becoming Amish.
But more than that, I have fantasies of being a writer. Of getting a novel published. And should that day ever come, I need to have an online presence. It would help to have one, at least.
That’s why, despite my aversion to technology, despite the how anxious this makes me, I’m starting a blog. What’s more important to me: being a successful writer or hiding from the world? When I’m looking back at my life do I really want to see that I lost opportunities because I’m shy? Of course not.
I don’t mean to imply that blogging is the magical answer to publishing a novel. I still need, you know, a good novel. I need to work hard and improve my skills and write, write, write. But, like I said, when the time comes to really get your name out there, having an online presence helps.
So, I’m blogging.
I guess one day I’ll have to sign up for Twitter and Instagram, or whatever else is the Big Thing at the time. But not yet. For today this blog is enough. Baby steps.
Who knows, maybe I’m wrong and becoming extraverted really is a skill that can be learned. Maybe with enough practice I can overcome my shyness (though I’ll always find it unfair that shyness is a personality trait people feel forced to “overcome”). Maybe one day I’ll even enjoy all this social networking stuff. Maybe.
For now, a message to all the extraverts in the world: know how deeply I envy you.