Monday, January 25, 2016

The Extrovert As Writer

When it comes to “ease of peeling away from real life to write,” the extroverted writer is at a distinct disadvantage. To begin with, we defy the traditional stereotype of writers being quiet, reserved individuals who observe life at a distance and go home to discover rich depths in their souls and write about it. Because stereotypes are often based, in the main, off truth, this means that the majority of our fellow writers won't empathize with our wiring. They won't understand how hard it is to cut the chatter and buckle down to a writing session. To the extroverted writer, peeling away from social life and other humans' presence is quite an effort before we've even opened a Word document to begin pouring more energy into our WIP. To leave the presence of other humans means to cut ourselves off from our “charger” so, unlike the introverted writer, being alone is not rejuvenation, it is slow (and sometimes rapid) depletion.

As an extrovert, the way we experience life is very different from the majority of other writers. Rather than writing out of careful observation and analysis of the world without, the extroverted writer builds his work out of a plethora of personal experiences. In the words of Anais Nin, we “write to taste life twice.” And in order to taste it twice, we jump at the chance to taste it at all. Any bottle, any flavor, any way. We want to live. Later, we'll write, but for now to live is the thing. It is easy to become wrapped up in tasting once. It is easy to choose to continue tasting, rather than to savor the flavors and mellow them into a literary vintage because, I don't know, we might miss the most savory experience yet if we've pulled away and stopped tasting for a time!

I can see many of your faces bent in puzzlement and I freely admit that the extroverted writer is somewhat of a unicorn. At the time of writing this article, of the seventeen writers who responded to the question on Facebook twelve were self-identified introverts and three were ambiverts. Only two of the self-proclaimed writers define themselves as thoroughly extroverted. I don't pretend to be apt with numbers and statistics, but it is fairly easy to see that only two out of seventeen in the surveyed writing population would identify as extroverts. When I look at it from the logical angle, it makes total sense: what sort of person has the most to say? He who has hitherto said the least. And who speaks in social situations less than your average, observing introvert? Introverts crave quiet, if not solitude, and such conditions are naturally more welcoming to the Muses who don't feel pushed out by the Life of the Party already abiding in the house. Introvert writers, are, in my opinion, the real MVPs.

Great, my fellow extroverts are thinking, is there any hope for me? I am here to tell you that, yes, thankfully there is hope – quite a lot of it. Here is a list of things the extroverted writer is very, very good at:

Writing authentic dialog – extroverts are experts at conversation. It only makes sense that we'd be able to translate this capacity into writing. In this respect, your chat 'em up is a lovely, pre-forged tool for hacking through the forest of traditional filler dialogue. You know where you're going with this.

Including vibrant details – one advantage of living on the go and tasting lots of life, is that you have much to give back. You walk into a new place and take everything in, scanning the environment for every possible conversation, adventure, and interaction and then systematically sampling them all. An introvert will go into the new place, pick a chair, sit down, and observe everything within that corner of the room. Use your “birds eye view” to pick out details the stationery observer misses and include them in your fiction.

Writing from personal stories and experiences – the more people you meet, the more places you go, the more first-hand reconnaissance you'll have as lumber for building your stories. When you pair your affability with question-asking, you'll often be rewarded with the gift of hearing peoples' stories...and I can affirm the fact that truth is often stranger than fiction. In addition to getting accounts from those you meet, you'll also be far more likely to meet with your own adventures than you would be at home on your Macbook, googling the effects of the Black Plague and what they mean for modernity.

Writing believable characters – though the extroverted writer might have to work harder to plumb the depths of human experience (after all, we tend to not think as sensitively as an introvert might), when we harness our considerable energy and brainpower, we are able to understand as thoroughly as any classic deep-thinker. In fact, our understanding of a person or character will often be very complex because the knowledge is paired with deep and often intuitive care for the person or character. Writing them, therefore, is a chance to interact a second time with someone of whom we are very fond and which extrovert will not absolutely pour out her soul for that?

Lending prose new paint – because extroverts are usually possessed of excellent people skills, we are good at gauging how our words will affect our readership and tailoring them to exact a particular reaction. We're accustomed to using this skill in daily life as we interact with people and it is therefore easy for the extroverted writer to foresee readers' reactions and curate a certain tone to court the projected reaction. I love nothing better than writing a piece in a particular voice for a particular reaction and hearing feedback from readers that affirms my ability to achieve the goal I had in mind. This ability is especially helpful in journalism, blogging, and non-fiction, as it can be hard for some personality types to state the facts from any angle but straight-on. Not so for the blendable, bendable eight-armed extrovert! Octipi, unite!

I hope that my fellow extroverted writers (if such there be) will find themselves refreshed and inspired by this list. We may not be as naturally equipped as the amazing introverts for the writers' life, but we also have a few super-powers of our own. When paired with determination and a daily hour sector'd off strictly for no-contact writing, the extrovert can overcome his native sociability and become the writer he has always wished to be. Then, when the word-count goal is met, it's back to hobnobbing with us. We have people to meet and places to see.

Monday, January 18, 2016


One change I've already implemented into my writing strategy this year is to keep a journal. That way, even if schedules conspire against me being able to get in any actual writing time, I can still make sure I've written something. Another upside is that I get to find myself hilarious and occasionally make sense of life as a by-product. How do you keep a journal? For me, I've begun keeping mine as a sort of art-journal, lyrics-keeper, and first-person factual novel. So take that as you will. I find this format encourages the sort of fiction-creativity I don't get to practice if I'm not writing, while still serving as an outlet for my thoughts and mental-processing. Here, then, is a harmless extraction from a couple weeks ago:

(after entering the complete lyrics of Ex-Ambassadors' "Renegades")
January 6, 2016

I copied those lyrics at Cure Coffee this afternoon and yes, I was suitably ashamed of how many times I've been there since the new year began. It's a shocking lot. It's late -- nearly 11 -- but I find I'm not super sleepy yet and I've been lying in bed with my head skibbling from one thought to the next. Mama was in my room relating a story so she tucked me in -- SO LONG SINCE THAT HAPPENED -- but I wanted to write and anyway I'm hot on account of this plush blanket that seems to be woven of MAGMA or something, it's so pulsing with heat. I flicked on the closet light and presently I will bestir myself enough to turn on the fan. Notice my strong aversion to throwing off the covers? I like to "sniggle up," as Levi has it.

Today was my day off so I spent the AM tidying up the room and water-color sketching a pommelo for the blog, then caught a couple hours of wifi work at Starbucks. One of the hitherto cross-at-me baristas made a foam heart in my latte so I felt all kinds of undying affection for her. No, but she really meant to be nice just for me!


Then, when we got home (Anna'd gone out with me), Mama wanted to space out with us. We had "no money" of course (surprise!) so we realized with out membership the Norfolk Zoo is free, so yes: Mama, Anna, and I went to the zoo on a frigid day. We were rewarded with seeing all the usually somnolent big animals being active, though all the cute little ones were either asleep, depressed, or both. The elephants were behaving as if they'd got earbuds in, listening to a waltz, and I expect that's the last time I'll ever see them because apparently they're lonely and there are to be no more elephants at the zoo. 

I ask you! A zoo with no elephants???

And the lions were actually roaring! I confess, I never before realized how loud a lion's roar can be, and how unearthly sounding. It positively rattled the air and ground. We made our skins crawl deliciously by talking about if one got out, but one didn't so we left. There was hardly anyone else there besides us. Quite fun, actually.

Of course, being so frozen and lion-pestered as we were, coffee was necessary so AWAY TO CURE. I had already had a flat-white this AM so I ordered a pot of strawberry kiwi tea from Will, that interesting barista-man, and thus established that I'm not a dull, predictable girl who gets her almond-milk, skimmed latte each visit. Last time (I quote) I, "flouted all that advice -- I'll have a lavender mocha latte, please." And this time it was tea.

Take that, sir.

I also partook in the most wonderful charcuterie board and none of us knew what half the things were before tasting them and even after had only the vaguest notion of some but I think it was brie & fig-preserves, some salt & pepper cheese, some odorous, strong, lovely cheese, a ginger-balsamic reduction, strong mustard, dill pickle slices, proscioutto (sp?), and salami. And bread a'course.
Mama ordered a de-caff latte and Will brought over a caffeinated one with the PRETTIEST latte art. So he had to take it back and I felt shame but I saw him drink it so oh well. The second one had art just as pretty. I saw my Asian-friend man who studies, like every time I come in. But I've been 3 times in the last week and I live a full hour away so who's the real crazy here?

The store was playing the best vintage/swing/classics playlist so I left a note, knowing Will ( the only barista/waiter-on-duty) would see it.

Immediately after I felt so silly -- why did I do that? *shakes head at self* So silly. On the way back to the car (and Boteourt looked SO charming at sunset!) I popped into Hummingbird Macarons and got a pale blue Earl Grey Tea one but it didn't taste like tea at all -- got lost in the ganache. Still yummy. 

I was brave to go in there after the shop girl saw (and smiled at) me tripping on a loose brick and jolting to my balance again. Mad skills.

I am looking back on the first six days of 2016 so far and feeling that I've courted adventure pretty fiercely. I mean, really. I've done a lot. Most of it has been arranged around "Where is it possible to get a good latte?" but hey. (...even in Appomatox.)

I'm sleepy now. I have a coffee date tomorrow with a girl I haven't caught up with since August. More coffee.

What is life?

....what is my coffee bill?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday, January 4, 2016

Apologies, Apologies.


It wasn't the best year, writing-wise. I suppose everyone means for “next year” to be the year they actually succeed in whatever it is they meant to succeed in. But I do mean for 2016 to be a better year for my writing, whatever that means. If I didn't have a high word-count in 2015, if I did lose my spot in the mystery I was supposed to be writing, if I did leave you poor blog-followers hanging and my reading public wondering if I'd been raptured or something; if I did all these things and in every other way make myself and others wonder if I was really serious about this writing thing, there were some triumphs.

I wrote The Fox Went Out
I wrote the first draft of The Spindle & The Queen
I wrote numerous quite-good flash fiction pieces, among which “Swing It” is my personal favorite
I was published (and paid for my work) in Fountain Magazine
I discovered a way to combine my interest in journalism with my love for people at my lifestyle blog, Lipstick & Gelato
I read quite a lot of non-fiction among the fiction and kept my mind sharp with it
I taught my first-grader (nanny-child) how to read

Though I can chalk up a few things I did accomplish as a writer, I can no longer hedge around the fact that in this season, writing is no longer my sole occupation. My job as a nanny has morphed into my job as a home-school teacher/governess which, among other things, requires fairly extensive lesson preparation. That means that when I am not at work and not doing errands and not prepping blog posts and not traveling and not with my family, I am planning lessons. Writing has, for now, fallen into a hobby-position. I no longer have the full-time hours to devote to publicizing, networking, blogging, and writing that I used to. However, I can't bear to close up shop and leave my precious writing-blog community just like that. You inspire and challenge and teach me and I intend to stick it out here on The Inkpen Authoress. But in order to be better able to keep up with everyone, a few changes will happen on this blog. I want to share more of my creative life with you, which means that I can't share strictly fiction. And since it's always a good idea to set goals for any business/blog/public, I sketched some out for you dear, patient people who might still read this blog. 2016 plans for The Inkpen Authoress include:

  • A dependable blogging schedule. I intend to aim at giving you a Post Each Monday. The posts might be book reviews, author interviews, or posts of my own design. They might be sharing bits of my writing, or highlighting others'. They might be posts on the craft of writing, or the challenges of it. Other Posts You Might See Here: sketches from people-watching, both artistic and linguistic renderings; journal excerpts; quotes from books I'm reading; quotes from articles I've written. Anything literature-centered that has intersected my life and yours. I want this blog to reflect the morphing of my creative life as I grow as a woman.
  • Commitment to working on my fiction frequently. I weighed heavily on the side of non-fiction this year, what with launching Lipstick & Gelato and keeping it up. I have found that I am good at writing non-fiction, and that I enjoy it immensely, but I do not intend to leave my fiction-writing behind completely. Not by a long shot. I will still work on books and publish them, but for your sanity and mine I am releasing myself from the strictures of having to publish something every three months.
  • Publishing “The Spindle & The Queen.” Though its name might change, I'm planning to release this Sleeping Beauty retelling sometime in the early Spring in e-book format! So you have that to look forward to after Elisabeth Foley and Suzannah Rowntree publish their wonderful-sounding fairy tales!
  • Exploring new avenues and ways to write. I am happy with the fact that I fell in love with “journalism” this year. I want to continue to play around with words, polishing old ways and branching out into completely new varieties. It's part of the joy of writing: that constant rearranging of language to aptly express all one feels. I also want to submit both fiction and non-fiction to various publications and get further experience in free-lancing.

Here's to 2016 being a better year in all ways than the last one! And may we always find a love for words overpowers even the worst seasons of Writer's Block!

Happy New Year, loves!