Saturday 8 August 2015

Introvert Writer

This is a really interesting article, tweeted by @TheAtlantic: An Introverted Writer’s Lament

It's written by author  Meghan Tifft, whose book The Long Fire is due for release later this month. You can preorder (UK/US). I must admit I'm tempted by the blurb. Waiting to see'f it'll come out on Kindle.

The article explores the issue: Writing used to be a solitary profession. How did it become so interminably social?

At first I thought it was just another of these regular articles about 'why do writers have to be promoters too?' I get it, I really do. For every novel I write, I know my facebooking, tweets and blog posts outstrip the word count tenfold. It is draining.

But this article was slightly different, and it really did hit home with other writers (based on retweets, reposts and comments, ironically).

She had me at:

What I want to know is, since when does making art require participation in any community, beyond the intense participation that the art itself is undertaking? Since when am I not contributing to the community if all I want to do is make the art itself? Isn’t the art itself my intimate communication with others, with the world, with the unfolding spectacle of the human struggle as we live and coexist on this earth?....

We’re real-life writers, not actors each in our own third-rate art film about the writing life. Aren’t we?

I thought about this for quite a while. I'm afraid I am a constant self-narrator. I've lost count of the number of blogs I write, more since I split my main blog into a couple of compartmentalised thought streams. 

I'm a self-confessed socmediaholic. I bloody love Twitter for its ability to connect me with other writers I madly admire, and for introducing me to those I'd never have known I madly admire had I not been tweeting.

When I choose to be, I'm a sparky extrovert. I'm quite happy to stand up and talk in front of people, answer a Q&A session, give a reading. Especially if it involves a few drinks and a bit of like-minded literary chat afterwards.

At the same time, I cannot write with anyone else in the house. I hate it. Even if they're in the garden or downstairs. When I'm in a 'writing mood' my friends don't see me for weeks. I get mad messages asking if I've been eaten by cats.

I recently mentioned in an interview that a top priority for a good writing day is isolation. And, being honest, just because I can talk about a book, doesn't mean I usually want to. I don't mind discussing other people's work, but when it comes to my own, everything I wanted to say is on the page. What other people think of that isn't really my business. It's uncomfortable when people make it my business. 

I'm happy, of course, when people love something I've written. It's bloody marvellous to write something that finds its mark in someone else's mind. But it's also awkward to hear about. The connection isn't between you and me. I don't know you, you don't know me. The connection is in art. That's where we both recognise ourselves - or lose ourselves. Whichever.

It is the act of creation itself that compels. 

I'd agree wholeheartedly with Tifft here that the pleasure of a book is in that intimate, private connection with the page. In sharing a secret no one else can hear. A moment that is yours entirely. 

I doubt anyone who knows me would call me an introvert, but suggest a day out with friends or a day locked indoors with a laptop - no contest I'm afraid. Irritable antisocial that I can be, that's just my way of saying leave me alone with my thoughts.

I don’t not want to be your friend. I just don’t want to dance with you. - Tifft

On that note, here's the blurb for her book. I had to laugh as earlier that day I'd read an article on The Most Interesting Diseases To Have Ravaged Humanity (writers love this kind of shit) and pica was on the list. That's a surefire sign I need to buy this book.

Natalie is propelled through life by pica, a disorder that has her eating a wide variety of inedibles—from pencil shavings to foam peanuts to plastic doll parts. A lowly staff worker for the local news, she follows the inane demands of the station’s senile weatherman and comes home to an empty apartment, unless of course her father uses the spare key.

But Natalie’s past stalks her at every turn. With her mother recently killed in a tragic house fire, and her runaway brother, Eliot, missing for years, Natalie and her father Boris only have each other. When a cryptic voicemail implicates her mother’s gypsy roots in her untimely death, Natalie begins to consider the demons that consumed her mother, and drove her brother away. With increasing suspicion, she traces her mother's mysterious family legacy back to the gypsy neighborhood she left behind.

As a wary Gypsy community tracks her every move, Natalie resolves to confront the dysfunctional and tragic figure at the heart of the mystery: the dead matriarch herself. Smart, elegiac writing, and a page-turning drive, make this a wonderful literary thriller with a hero as intriguing as the mystery.

1 comment:

  1. I have that strange extrovert/introvert pull as well. And the less time I get to spend writing, the more frustrated and resentful I become of interactions with other people. Great article about a very interesting article.