Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Reluctant Extrovert

I was going to post today about how much fun I had at the RT Booklovers Convention that took place last week at the Los Angeles Bonaventure Hotel but I think I'm going to post about something else instead. Not that I didn't have a good time. Heck, I had a fabulous time as you can see in the picture here. That's me dancing with my eyes closed and a huge grin on my face, picture courtesy of Sheila English (

But what I really want to talk about is something that happened after this party as I was making my way out of the ballroom. You see as part of the proceedings of the Ellora's Cave party, the authors published by the company who are attending and willing to be introduced get led across the stage and their names are announced. When it is my turn I make a point of turning to the audience and waving at everyone. This is because I want people to know I'm happy to be there and like them knowing who I am.

So on the way out of the ballroom a couple of ladies were smiling at me and one of them said "you must not have a shy bone in your body." Alas, I had to admit, I am far more shy than they might expect. If I go down to the bar and I don't see anyone I know, I will find a quiet corner rather than join a random table. When I don't have a fixed place to be at a convention I am likely to be in my room decompressing. Go in front of a big crowd and wave or curtsy to them? No problem. Talk one-on-one to someone who doesn't approach me first? Not likely.

Mind you I did go down to the bar one day during the convention when I had no one to eat lunch with only to find that everyone I knew was already eating with no empty seats at the table. So I wandered the room a little more until I made eye contact with a perfect stranger who, when I admitted I was looking for anyone to eat with, asked me to join her. Turned out she was a lovely lady, a newbie author who was somewhat overwhelmed by the convention, and she was a journalist with a small local paper up in my neck of the woods. She and I discussed the small press publishing world, and the book she was writing, which was quite interesting and if done well could be a very solid story. We had a lovely time and I might even feature in one of her articles. I ended up very glad I hadn’t opted for the crackers and canned tuna I would normally have eaten in my room that day.

So I guess here is the point of my entry this month. Most authors are by nature a solitary sort, not terribly outgoing, and with a tendency for shyness. Which only means that if you meet someone at a convention the chances are they are probably as unsure of themselves as you are. There is nothing to fear from these people. If you have to go on stage, treat it as a chance to catch people's attention and draw them to your books. If you find yourself eating crackers and canned tuna in your room because you don't have someone to eat with, go down to the bar and see who is sitting by themselves.

Chances are they'll turn out to be as happy to meet you as you are to meet them.


L.A. Lopez said...

Your right writing being a solitary affair. Most writers go that route for that reason. As writer you spend a lot time with voices in your head, creating characters, and scenarios. In the post I felt like you were describing me. I'm not shy, but I can be withdrawn and I find conferences to be very over whelming.

Janet/Cricket said...

I've heard it said that a writers convention is "a thousand introverts trying to act like extroverts". Doesn't it do your heart good to know you are not the only one?

Reina M. Williams said...

I'll have to keep this in mind when I finally get to a convention. :) Though the same applies at meetings...really anywhere! And it is reassuring to know I'm not the only shy introvert striving to put on the extrovert mask for an occasion.

Jill James said...

Love the 'convention' comment. So true. But it is nice to be in a room full of people who all hear voices in their heads too.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

What a lovely post. I know how you feel as I used to be so quiet I could be in a room for hours and no one would notice or care. Somewhere along the way, I changed and now find that I can talk to anyone and usually do. When my daughter was ill and I had to fly a lot to take care of her, the first thing she would say was "tell me his story." She meant the airport shuttle driver, and I did. I have found that talking to a stranger is a grand experience and sharing ideas and stories is a delight. My other daughter says she always know where her Dad and I are in a big room - we are where the crowd is standing as we are talking. I can't seem to help myself now...even the walls aren't exempt. I didn't realize I had so much to say or, much to my surprise, that people liked what I said.

Denise Pattison said...

Up until I was in 8th grade I was a shy person, though no one believes me now.

My parents moved a good bit and I was in a new school or two new schools every year. By 8th grade I'd decided I would be the one reaching out when I went somewhere new. So, now I talk to just about anyone.

Janet, I remember meeting you in 2007. You were sitting on a couch in the lobby/lounge area just outside of the bar. I recognized your name from the chapter and one of your books you'd entered in the Lories. I introduced myself and we spent a bit of time chatting. I didn't know you were shy, so many people stopped as they passed to say hi to you.

Josie said...

You're so right. Us writers are a shy, solitary lot. I guess that's one of the reasons we're drawn to writing.