Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Back to the Garden: Introversion and the Writer

Circa 2005: Dog and child, reading

There are two phases in the process of creation. And I'm not talking about terror and despair.

(Though those are definitely phases any creator will recognize all too well.)

No, I'm talking about the introvert phase and the extrovert phase of the creative process.

Is it any wonder that creating — and writing in my case — calls to the introverted? During the drafting process, I get to withdraw into a world of my own creation. Where the rules make sense. When I was a child, I spent much of my waking life immersed in the universe of one story or another. When you become the author of that story, it is so much sweeter than that. And while I still function in the external world, its demands are somehow less strident, less intrusive because of the internal world — a beautiful secret garden that belongs to me and me alone. 

That incredible nurturing phase can't last forever. Not if you want your work to be enjoyed by others. And so the introverted creator must open the gates to her secret garden and let strangers in. Some will carefully walk the winding path she has laid out among the flowers. Others will trample their way across it. That is what the extrovert phase feels like. The part of the process when the work becomes public. And not only do you need to let strangers in, you need to seek them out and convince them to enter. For the career introvert, this is extremely difficult and draining.

I hadn't thought about it in that way until this morning, when I woke up soaked in sweat and in full-on anxiety mode. It's been a little over a month since the release of DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE  and for most of the past 3 months, I've been focused on the launch. And while I'm not someone who is very comfortable with self-promotion, I've been able to complete a 6 week long blog tour and in the process write nearly 20,000 words of unique posts and interview answers.

What I haven't done is focus on any fiction. 

I was managing to stay (mostly) focused and stay (mostly) positive—despite the fact that publication is the extrovert phase of the creative process and I am most decidedly an introvert—until my dog became ill. Even then, I created a new routine, fitting in her meds and cooking meals for her around writing blogposts and boosting the signal about them on social media.

And then the cancer got the better of her and she couldn't breathe, despite the meds, despite the care. On Friday evening, we made the wrenching choice to take her to the vet to be euthanized. It was then I crashed. Hard.

All weekend, I drifted, both physically and emotionally. My reservoir of spoons is depleted. And tomorrow I will start 3 1/2 days of extreme extroversion during my participation at Readercon.

What I really want to do is barricade myself into a new garden until the world makes sense to me again. I feel the pull of needing to write something new and something that belongs (for now) to me, alone. That won't happen this week and maybe not in the next few weeks, but it will happen.

For now, I will hold to the hope and knowledge that the garden is waiting for me.



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  1. Well put. I can relate to this very well. I was in high creative writing mode over the Fourth of July weekend, so much so that I chose to spend the holiday writing rather than going to a barbecue where I was invited. That's real introvert behavior there. I'm also dealing with the extrovert book/blog promotion as well.

    1. Introvert solidarity fist bump! Hang in there. And thanks for stopping by the blog.