A week ago, my husband spent two hours teaching high school metal shop classes how to make sculptures in wire. Floated home three feet off the ground. You're right: He's an extrovert.
And no, I doubt my own experience would have been much different if, like him, I'd been teaching about my art. I still would have had to talk to many, not to one or two, and I still would have had to keep it up for a very long time.
In your comments to Debbie's post on Monday, several of you admitted to a lifelong struggle to change your nature. I have struggled like you, and like you, I have learned over the years to put on a decent show - for a time.
And as it has for some of you, Susan Cain's book, Quiet, came to me as a gift and a blessed relief. Someone understood, at last, in black and white, and at long last, gave me permission to stop trying to fix myself.
I read Quiet exactly six months from the day I began an experience that would prompt me to re-frame many things that had caused pain in my life. Among those things was an inward orientation that I now realize was the very thing that allowed me to write my characters from the inside out, and that also allows me to learn well a line of work that demands empathy.
Writers who happen to be introverts (and that may be all writers) find themselves in awkward positions once they are published. Debbie mentioned the hoped for/dreaded book signings and media interviews: even relatively unknown authors are suddenly expected to behave like extroverts.
I suspect when you are a writer within the Christian publishing world, it's a bit worse. The market is smaller, and authors are left more in charge of their own publicity. Not only that, but these authors go to church. Perhaps some of you thoughtful, observant quiet types have noticed how many of the world's cultural expectations slip un-noticed under the church doors - and in-between the pages of our books.
Susan Cain brings up one of the most insidious:
"Contemporary evangelicalism says that every person you fail to meet and proselytize is another soul you might have saved."
No wonder our stories have to have such purpose. What literary value can stand up to the imperative salvation of our readers' souls?
And while we're on the subject, what is it we do, locked alone with our thoughts, that's more important than all of the programs that require our participation? Cain quotes an introverted pastor's lament:
"There (is) no emphasis on quiet, liturgy, ritual, things that give you space for contemplation.”
And yet, if we are to write stories worth reading...
If we are to live lives worth living, we need these things.
I am lucky enough to have a room of my own, a private office where I can come and close the door when I have to. It is here that I curl up with my prayer app (Common Prayer for the geeky introverts among us), with my books, with my thoughts and supplications.
What about you? Have you managed to protect the quiet in your lives?
Do tell us how. We need to know.
And we love to read what you have to say.