When asked, I tell people that I am by nature very introverted. I think I’m right about that. Being around people takes my energy! Being alone, either in front of my keyboard or with a good book, is my idea of a vacation.
So if I’m in a crowd of people and I’m expected to be social, I, um… uh… wait a sec. I… uh, think I need to go out and get some space – um I mean air. Yeah, that’s right. I need a health break. Er, gee I have to go home and feed my puppies.
Except that the DiGrazie household has no puppies. So, I’m busted! I’m – antisocial? No, that’s not it. I like people (in fact so much so that I fear rejection). Shy? Well, sometimes I am. No, I’m introverted. I have to psych myself up and put energy/effort into being social.
I’ve learned how to be quite good at it, at least some of the time. For instance, this past summer on my Midwest swing into northern Kentucky and Cincinnati among other places (research for “See John Play,” planned for April 2012 release), I met a bunch of the nicest total strangers you’ll ever meet, who gladly gave me all kinds of great inside tips on how to sharpen up the way I portray these locations in the book. Tell people you’re writing a book about their hometown, and you will become the buzz of the bar room.
Earlier this summer, I did something I never have done before – an alumni association social. I didn’t know a person when I walked in. I left with at least three friends whom, three months later, I’m not only still in touch with, but also developing mutually beneficial relationships with toward the ends of social justice, vocation, and other high callings.
I may be an introvert, but I am learning more and more every day that I can never use that as an excuse for staying on the sidelines when it comes to endeavors I believe in. Such as, for instance, my writing career. None of us can make it happen without talking to a lot of other people.
So to all my writing friends, some of whom I know are actually much more advanced at “constructive extroversion” than I; but some of whom I know could benefit from this introvert’s report that the crowds can be welcoming, helpful, even wonderful: The next time you find yourself in a crowd – whether it’s a wedding, a happy hour, a place of worship, a writer’s conference – I challenge you to smile and say hi to a stranger and just see what happens. I am learning that it’s not only important, it’s fun. And we introverts can always collapse from exhaustion with a good book or our keyboard in front of us later, after we’ve already traded some business cards and talked with some people who can play a part in our success; or better yet, whose success we can play a role in.