I am introvert. I don’t say that negatively. We introverts get a bad rap. We’re sometimes accused of being shy, rude, anti-social. But if a person is that way, I would argue it’s not because they’re introverted. Introverts just need their time alone to recharge, they love one-one-one conversations, large parties wear them out, etc. On the flip side, they’re super personal, unbelievably observant and love to think before they speak.
I used to get picked on a little bit for being an introvert, which sometimes backfired and just made me keep more things to myself. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more confident in who am I and tend to be more out going and vocal and I really enjoy it. For instance, public speaking doesn’t terrify me like it used to. More importantly, sharing my writing is par for the course. In fact, when I tell people I’m an introvert – being someone who enjoys quite nights in, one-on-one conversations, etc, etc – it shocks them. But I am and I like that about myself. But ironically, it was the thing that almost kept me from from pursuing published author status.
I used to write only for myself. That was all that mattered to me. I didn’t want someone else to see what I’d written and critique it, because I was afraid they’d tell me I couldn’t write at all and I would buckle under that and quit. Instead, I wrote just because I enjoyed it, it relaxed me, help me avoid homework, cleared my head. It was just for me and I was content with that… Until I went to college and people started to figure out that I wrote. Mostly, I wrote stories that I never finished writing, but again – it didn’t matter, since I only wrote them for my eyes.
But then I had a particularly nosy friend who wanted to read one of my partial stories. Could he PLEASE read it, he wanted to know. PUH-LEASE. I refused for a while. I knew he LOVED to read and I knew once he read the sixty pages I’d penned, he would realize I was a fraud, someone who wasn’t a writer at all. Just a girl, who thought she could write – like one of those people on American Idol auditions who “think” they can sing and then end up being publicly ridiculed. Oh, no, that could not happen. But he was persistent and for some reason, I don’t know why, I gave in. I sent him the 60 pages, probably just to shut him up, knowing at this point, the worst he would do was reply with “Oh, that was nice.” And then we’d never speak of it ever again.
So I pressed send.
Twenty-four hours later I heard from him again. “So where’s the rest of it?” he asked.
“Uh, that’s it. That’s all I have,” I told him.
“Well, what happens next?”
“I don’t know. I stopped writing because I got stuck.”
“Well, figure it out! I want to know what happens next. Send me more when you write more.”
What? It was hands down the best compliment I could’ve hoped for and he technically never even said it was good or that he enjoyed it. He just wanted more. So I wrote more and I started sharing more. And more people started asking for it and telling me they really liked it. My three college roommates started popping their heads into my room to see “Was I finished with that next draft yet?”
All this to say, be encouraging. I never would’ve submitted my work to agents at all had my friends not been interested in reading it. I knew that if I could stomach my friends having opinions about my writing, I could certainly stomach agents and editors and anyone else for that matter talking to me about it.
So be nice and honest and encouraging. One positive word can make all the difference in someone else’s life. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up on a dedication page.
Originally posted on Caitlin’s Tumblr