An Extrovert’s Plight

  • By Meg Opperman
  • July 27, 2015

You keep-to-yourself types are really killing my mojo.


Hey, you!

Yes, you. The introverted writer in the back.

No, don’t go slipping behind the tall potted plants. I see you. I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

Ever since Susan Cain published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I can’t get any peace or quiet. Ironic, huh? My social-media account has blown up with tales of the difficulty introverted writers face. Especially at conferences. But also at book signings. Parties. Pretty much anywhere that there are more than two people present.

Now, look, I know you’ve got it rough. I get it. You don’t need as much social stimulation as we extroverts. Large crowds are tiring and can be overwhelming. You’re often mistaken for shy, when you’re just using your highly honed listening skills. But we extroverts have some complaints, too.

Cry Me a River. I can (grudgingly) acknowledge that you might have it a little, tiny bit rougher at a conference than we extroverts. Like, 99.43 percent of the time. But that other 00.57 percent is a doozy.

Cain mentions — or maybe complains about — the extrovert ideal, the notion that “the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.” Well, sure, it’s true that I might be comfortable gabbing, schmoozing, making small talk, interrogating you quiet types, networking, being the center of attention, or hell, standing up in front of the entire conference to give a presentation or present an argument for the fun of it. But I have needs, too. Needs you are not meeting.

For instance, you introverts make me do all the work at conferences! If I’m not prying you out of dark corners, I’m carrying the majority of the conversation, and it gets tiring. Sore throat, anyone? You could at least provide me with mints. And maybe a cappuccino.

While you thrive alone or in very small groups, we extroverts need social contact. Quite a bit of it. So when I go to a conference, I’m thrilled that there will be a mass of writers, readers, and fans to engage. I want to know what you’re working on, who you’re reading, and I LOVE to talk about the writing process.

Anything. Pantser vs. plotter? I’m there. POV or showing vs. telling? Count me in. Grammar? Yep, I’ll happily roll around in words the way a cat does catnip. But, damn, you introverts — and you know who you are — make me work for it. One-word answers, awkward silences, and we might as well be doing the foxtrot, the way you keep inching away.

And you’re someone I call a friend! Don’t even get me started on you introverts I haven’t met yet (probably because you wore colors that blended in with the wall like chameleons). Sheesh, what’s a poor, lonely extrovert to do?

Are you feeling my pain yet? No? Well, how about this. Certain introverts — and I’m not saying you’re one of them — seem to feel that they are more reflective than we poor, misunderstood extroverts.

Reflective? Look, I’ve got a mirror. It’s not like we’re vampires; we just choose to reflect differently. Like when we have no choice and are cast into the third realm of hell. I think that’s the one where they make you sit by yourself with a big “no talking” sign.

Still not convinced in the plight of the extroverted writer? Fine, I guess that’s your prerogative (that you probably arrived at after a long bout of reflection). I suppose you might be slightly interested in having strategies to better manage and enjoy conferences, too.

Well, don’t look at me! I’m the extrovert in this relationship. But I do know someone you can look to: Shana Galen, a bestselling author and self-proclaimed introvert, has written an article on how to become an amazing, successful extrovert like me…Wait, no, that’s not it (although I think that would be a fantastic article. I’m available for interviews. Call me).

But I digress. Check out Galen’s article, "An Introvert’s Guide to a Successful Conference." You’ll be glad you did.

See, we extroverts talk a lot, but sometimes we do have something useful to say.

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