Thursday, May 23, 2013

Alone or Lonely - A Tough Call

I’m an extrovert.  I love being around people.  I adore human interaction.  I’m as happy to throw a party as I am to attend one.  That is how I am, and how I’ve always been, and there isn’t much I can do to change it.

I’m also a writer, and writing is a solitary and somewhat lonely profession.  It involves long hours spent by myself, wrapped up in something that only exists in my own mind.  I love being a writer, and I crave the quiet hours necessary for the creative process, but sometimes I just really want to talk to someone else and get out of my own world for a few minutes.
Enter social media – my gateway to contact with other living breathing humans that can be achieved without leaving my desk.  Facebook, Twitter, and even good old fashioned email are wonderful tools for me to use as a writer, but also as a person who needs to occasionally hear from someone who is not a character living inside of my head.  

Recently I attended my first writers’ conference, Pennwriters 2013.  It was a great experience.  I learned a great deal and made a lot of new friends.  But even better for me, it gave me the chance to be around people while still working at my craft.  That contact energized me.  It made me feel happy and excited and almost a little giddy.  I’d missed being around people in a work related setting.  I hadn’t experienced that in a long time.
But as I looked around at the others in attendance, I realized that not everyone was experiencing the same euphoria as me.  Many people were walking around with pained expressions on their faces, like this entire situation made them feel uncomfortable.  Some people looked sullen and miserable.  Others looked like they might want to curl up in fetal position with their hands covering their ears to block out the noise. 

They were the introverts.  I could spot them a mile away.
Writing is a great profession for introverts.  Conferences almost cause them physical pain.  The human interaction and socialization that energizes me drains them.  By the end of the conference, some of them were literally running out the door to escape.  It wasn’t because the conference wasn’t a valuable and useful experience for them – they learned as much as I did.  But it was much harder for them than it was for me, and I appreciate the personal and emotional sacrifices they made in order to attend. 

Introvert or extrovert, it doesn’t really matter.  We all do what we must to succeed as writers (or as accountants, or as artists, or as whatever).  I wish I could say I had a magical formula that would help introverts enjoy a writers’ conference, but I don’t.  Nor do I have anything that makes it easier for an extrovert to sit in front of a computer all day.  You simply do what you have to do to produce the best writing you possibly can.
But if anyone has a magical formula that would help me avoid wasting time on Facebook, please pass it on.  I need it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment