No one ever believes me when I say that I’m an introvert at heart. If you’ve ever met me at a book event, you know what I mean. I have no trouble with public speaking, and I enjoy talking with readers and writers and librarians. I have a reputation as bubbly and outgoing.
This is a sham. I am really a hermit crab with good coping skills.
It isn’t that I don’t like people, especially readers. But you know how you don’t want to go to a friend’s birthday party or something, even though you actually really like your friend, but it’s going to be noisy and there’s going to be dancing or whatever, and your mom is all like, “Just go. You know you’ll have a good time once you get there,” and you whine and protest but she makes you go and then you actually do have a really good time?
That’s pretty much me all the time.
And it’s kind of a vicious cycle, because once I get into my cave, it’s safe and cozy and I have my dog and MY SPOT on the couch and lots of coffee and cookies. You would think that I would have a lot more writing to show for this, but there’s also satellite TV and Netflix for marathoning full seasons of Lost Girl and Breaking Bad. Then I realize that I’ve written five pages in the last five days and I live with my mother and I haven’t had a date or been out with my friends in months, which is my own fault because I love my spot and my dog and my Netflix and OH MY GOD THIS IS HOW CRAZY CAT LADIES GET STARTED.
Not that that is really what happens. I’m just saying it could.
This is why writers need Real Life friends. Because after a certain point it takes dynamite to get me out of my cave. When I don’t come to critique group for two weeks in a row, my friends threaten to send a Navy SEAL extraction team. It has nothing to do with the fact that my work needs critique. (Which, of course it doesn’t, because it falls from my fingers like perfect jewels of prose.) It’s because otherwise I will turn into the crazy dog lady.
So, this morning I’m sitting at a table in Starbucks with four of my writer friends. We’re actually being really productive this morning, all of us with our earphones in, typing away at our laptops, which probably looks a little weird to people. (Or maybe not. I’m sure Starbucks has seen weirder stuff.) Why meet in person to sit and look at your own computer screen and not talk to each other?
For one thing, it forces us to rejoin civilization. You know. Take a shower and wear pants without elastic waistbands. For another, I look up and see my friends hammering on the keys, and peer pressure puts its boot to my butt.
But most of all it’s good to get out of the cave. We’re social creatures, human beings. Sometimes being around people, whether you actually talk to them or not, is like taking your vitamins.
I hear that’s good for you.