WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Writing and introversion: a very private affair

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Like so many writers, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. Not so long ago I read that the difference between introverts and extroverts is that extroverts get jazzed about public activities and introverts don’t. Or, more accurately, introverts get jazzed about private activities. Same brain response, different stimuli.

Well, I ran into the following quote in a review of Colm Tóibín’s book, On Elizabeth Bishop, in which the writer (Dan Chiasson) thinks about shyness and writing:

For a writer, speaking is terrifying, since it operates under conditions foreign to composition: one might be interrupted or distracted, or find one’s meanings questioned before they are fully developed and expressed. Tone, which is entirely in the writer’s hands, seeps into speech from circumstances no writer can control: his accent, his reflexive vocabulary, the pitch of his voice, even his appearance and posture—these are all elements of spoken self-presentation that cannot really be controlled in the moment, in social interaction. Advantage: writing.

Boom! So there’s a practical foundation to our introversion!

Now excuse me while I retreat to my grotto and spend this fine Sunday with someone I love…


PS — Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow, when I begin my series, “Gatecrash — Liberating creativity in the age of boilerplate fiction.” And don’t worry if you can’t read all eleven parts. I’ll provide the full essay for download at the end of the series.

 

 

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7 comments on “Writing and introversion: a very private affair

  1. Adrienne Morris
    January 10, 2016

    My father taught us all to pretend to be happy, exciting extroverts when we left the house. We’d all come home exhausted–including my father. He had made a judgement that somehow being the center of attention and always on was the better way to be as a human. I’ve found that he was mistaken.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 10, 2016

      It certainly isn’t a good thing if you ain’t wired that way! I wonder how many “life o’ the party” types out there are really terrified introverts…

  2. John W. Howell
    January 10, 2016

    I van to be alone

  3. 1WriteWay
    January 10, 2016

    Oh, indeed!

  4. Katrina
    January 11, 2016

    Thanks, Kevin, this was a joy to read. As a child, I hated the word shy. It plagued my school reports, as if it was a disease to be cured. Over the years I’ve learned to be confident – I have even been known to be that life and soul of the party you mention – but social interactions exhaust me. Then I stopped and thought, what am I trying to prove? I’ve settled into happy introversion and it’s given me the gift of writing.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 11, 2016

      Fantastic, Katrina! Embrace the nesting.

      It’s so aggravating that introverts are often forced to do those public things they have no interest in doing. We don’t do the opposite and force extroverts to stay at home by themselves, do we?! 😝

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2016 by in Writing and tagged , .
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