Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Lure of Keeping it Low Key with Guest Blogger: Letty James

First, I’d like to offer you all a very deep curtsy. Oh, if only we wore crinolines now it would be much more effective. Thank you, thank you for voting my contribution on The Book Boost the best of 2012. In this season of the Oscars, I am very tempted to make a speech. But to save you from gouging out your eyeballs, I will dispense with my treacle and move along.

I don’t have any new books to promote (gasp!), but I do have some work coming up from Soul Mate Publishing, so stay tuned for some blatant self-promotion at some other date. In the meantime, I’d like to give some kudos to Susan Cain for writing Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Crown Publishers 2012). Now we nerds not only have a great TV Show (The Big Bang Theory), we also have a fabulous book that explains why we introverts (so many writers!) are called unapproachable, cold, and distant.

Here’s an example from my own life:

I am playing it safe. I’m standing on the dock while people all around me are plunging into the frigid waters of the river. The Polar Plunge – a yearly ritual for the insane. Why do people feel they need to dunk themselves into freezing water to be daring? And then, gather together in an overcrowded, overheated room to share chili and body odor?

“It’s fun,” my husband says. Fun? To have your whole body feel like a popsicle? To have cursory conversations with your neighbors about why they haven’t seen you since this summer? I’ll tell you what’s fun – sitting in front of a fire with a loved one, drinking hot chocolate and playing Scrabble. Fun is riding my bike alone on a warm spring day as daffodils nod in the breeze. Fun is a lively discussion during small book club meetings. Fun is having the house to myself and the time to write.
I’m cautious. I’m hesitant. I’m boring. Wait! Do you hear the screech of tires as I clamp down on those bicycle breaks? Boring? I’m not boring.

I’m introverted. According to Susan Cain, this is the way I was born. It’s genetic! I can blame Mom and Dad. They even called themselves social trolls. They never had parties. Even family visiting our house was an emotional strain. If a salesman or traveling evangelist came to the door, my father would tell him we were Druids and close the door. Ah, the humor of an introvert. I imagine these people standing outside on the porch and searching the yard for oak trees and hemlock. But I doubt it, because if you’re going door to door you’re probably an extrovert. And, you don’t spend hours alone studying Druids. If you even know what a Druid is. (Druid fans raise your hands. How many of you are introverts? I’m guessing ninety percent.)

I tried to get my book club to read Quiet this month, but I got voted down by the extroverts. How many of you feel bullied by the quick-minded people? I’m one of those who think of a great retort half an hour later. That’s why I love email. It gives me time to think before I reply.

Solitude is crucial to the introvert’s creativity, according to Cain. I remember going to a writing conference and being told “A true writer can write anywhere. He shuts out distractions and just puts thoughts on the page.” One speaker even proposed setting up a keyboard on your treadmill and typing while you walk.

What? I wouldn’t be able to focus my brain for fear of flying off into the wall behind me. For years, I berated myself that I was not a true writer if I couldn’t shut out distractions or contort myself into situations to grab every minute of writing time possible. I need the house to be empty and quiet. I can’t write if I haven’t had enough sleep. My thoughts scatter like falling leaves if I’m interrupted.

I’ve been told I’m too sensitive. I have no sense of humor. I’m delicate. No -- I’m an introvert. I react differently to stimuli. I want to brandish Susan Cain’s book in front of me like a shield and shout, “Read This – This Explains Me!” Instead, I shall have to settle for quietly promoting a wonderful book. Read Quiet. It will change your life. It changed mine.

A Note from the Book Boost:  Congrats again on your win for the prestigious Blogger of the Year award, Letty!  Glad to have you here and can't wait for you to come back and promote your stuff.  But I'm sure Susan Cain is thrilled for the shout out. 

Want More Letty?

Visit her on the web here:  http://lettyjames.com/

Want to pick up a copy of the book Letty spoke of in today's blog?  Click here.

Want to pick up one of Letty's books?  Click here.

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