Scrolling through Facebook today I saw someone had posted a link to a Huffington Post article about the signs of being an introvert. See here: 23 Signs You Are Secretly an Introvert
I have know that I am an introvert for many years. As an incoming college freshman, we did the Myers Briggs test and I was nearly off the chart introverted. Several years later I took it again, thinking maybe I was just feeling extra shy in those early days of college. After all, I was nearly 1,000 miles from home and I didn't know anyone. Well, the second test showed once again that I am truly an introvert. Here are some of the signs from the article and how they play out in my life.
You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with them afterwards.
You actively avoid any shows that require audience participation.
You screen all your calls - even from your friends.
You have a constantly running inner dialogue.
I would add another one - you don't like to do anything that draws attention to yourself.
The first week in September, I will be attending a writer's conference. While there I will take pitches, do critiques, announce the winner of the mystery category at the banquet, and do two panels - one on editors and agents and one on publishing contracts. What does this mean to me?
Taking pitches is difficult. I sometimes get nervous. No reason for that as I do a ton of conferences. It's just part of the introvert thing. Talking to people. And I know that the person doing the pitch is also most likely incredibly nervous. All that energy is draining.
The critique session might be a little bit better. Or not. This will be a group critique so others will be talking, not just me. But it is a little unnerving. Another thing I read about introverts is that many of us have a lot of self doubt. As in, who I am to be giving these folks my opinion? Why is mine better the nexy guy's opinion? I feel terribly uncomfortable through most of this.
The announcing of the winner for the mystery conference? Not too terribly bad so long as I don't mess up anyone's name.
But here is what everyone will see - I put on my editor persona. I will talk to anyone and everyone. I am usually at the bar until it closes and up pretty early in the morning. I make friends with writers from different genres, talk business with agents and editors, meet with my authors, and check in with the conference organizers to make sure I am meeting whatever needs they have. At least once a day I will retreat to my room for a mental break - take a quick nap or watch some mindless TV. The rest of the time, I am on the clock, so to speak.
While confrences are incredibly draining, they also remind me why I love my job so much. Writers are the coolest people on the planet. A lot of them are introverts as well, which is why I think I can muddle through. The creative energy and excitement are awesome. I have also been able to arrange the timing so that I have been able to offer some people contracts in person. That is such an amazing experience.
So what is the take away of all this rambling? Be kind to each other. Events like conferences are stressful for so many reasons. And as a writer, you might run into an editor or an agent who is maxed out right at that moment. We are regular people, just like you, and conferences are hard work.
Also, don't expect me to answer the phone.