Monday, June 3, 2013

The Networking Introvert

by R.C. Lewis

This isn't the first time we've talked about introverted writers here on From the Write Angle. It probably won't be the last. I see frequent comments on Twitter indicating a belief that the vast majority of writers are introverts. I'm not sure that's true, because I know an awful lot of extroverted authors. (I'm looking at you, Mindy McGinnis.) But the introverts definitely make up a solid contingent.

And I'm one of them.

To be fair, I've given myself enough practice faking it that people don't always realize I'm an introvert (or that I'm shy—yes, I'm a two-fer). That doesn't necessarily make it easier on my end, especially when I fall back into old habits that need breaking.

Natalie Whipple at the TRANSPARENT
launch. Isn't she adorable?
Last year, I moved back to my home state after spending eight years living elsewhere. My first forays into writing began while living out-of-state, so I never had reason to get plugged into the local writing scene. In particular, the local kid-lit writing scene ... which in these parts is significant.

After pushing through a school year at a new school with a new curriculum (and, oh yeah, a newly acquired agent and publishing contract, too), I realized I'd let myself settle into my little cocoon of home-work-internet. Nothing wrong with that, maybe. You can accomplish a lot on the internet, and "work" has me spending a lot of time with my target audience.

But sometimes you need to get out into the real world. Opportunities in this industry often arise because of connections. And besides, it'd be nice to have friends who understand the industry more than my math department does ... especially if a few of those friends didn't live a thousand or so miles away.

I realized it was once again time to push out of my comfort zone. I used one of my online connections to make a local connection and found out a local author was having a book launch two days later. (An author whose blog countdown widget I'd made, not realizing she was local. Small world.) I'd never been to a book launch or signing in my life—sad, right?

Me with Natalie at the signing afterwards, proving I
really was there and spoke to someone.
Okay, universe. Baptism by fire it is. I carpooled to the book launch with four women who were essentially strangers to me, ranging from published to querying.

Talking to them was instantly comfortable. It wasn't awkward, and the launch wasn't scary. We had fun.

Even better, I broke that shell. Sure, being social at big events still takes a lot of energy. When the next event comes around (one of the carpooling women has the third in her trilogy coming out this week) I can go with even less anxiety. I already know some people who'll be there. Writers supporting other writers ... it's fantastic.

And friends are a good thing. Even in real life.

R.C. Lewis teaches math to teenagers—sometimes in sign language, sometimes not—so whether she's a science geek or a bookworm depends on when you look. That may explain why her characters don't like to be pigeonholed. Coincidentally, R.C. enjoys reading about quantum physics and the identity issues of photons. You can find her on Twitter (@RC_Lewis) and at Crossing the Helix. And every once in a while, you can find her in the real world, too.


JeffO said...

I don't necessarily consider myself an introvert, exactly, but I remember how hard it was for me to go to my first writer's group and open up about my writing to strangers. Good for you, R.C.

Jemi Fraser said...

Good for you!! Reaching out is defintely not easy!

Martina at Adventures in YA Publishing said...

I can so relate to this post! I am not a total introvert, but being "up" is definitely draining, and I am painfully shy about meeting people. I am in the process of trying to,reach out to the local writing community. I've been to local meetings, but those are really large and not conducive to making more personal connections. I did attend a dinner recently, and that was great. I'll definitely be doing more of those.

I'm so glad the book launch worked for you and that you pushed yourself to find some peeps who "get" you!

Thanks for,sharing!

Matt Sinclair said...

So true.

Maris McKay said...

Thanks for this post. I'm also a shy introvert, so this was a helpful perspective for me. Right now, I'm doing all my networking and such online, but I know I'm going to eventually have to step out of my comfort zone.