Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Shy Tribe

Almost all the writers I know personally are introverts. Few of us were tailor-made to "be public." But the very act of seeking readers means putting our inners out.
My not-writer friend (I’ll call her Alma) told me she had always imagined writers wrote for themselves. I disagree. Those who write for themselves have drawers full of diaries and manuscripts. But if a writer is seeking publication, they are not writing for themselves. We want to engage. We want you to know us through our characters.
In other words- we are a living oxymoron. {Some would say we are the other kind of moron, but that’s another post.}
I remember how very awkwardly awful it felt when my first publisher told me they expected me to have a website. The editor offered to help me develop it. But his vision was wa-a-ay too scary for me, so in a defensive move I quickly put up what I thought was a palatable version I could live with. It helped that DD made it as a holiday gift. It took her all of two hours, and there it, or I, was.
But then, OY. I was on the Internet. I mean my name and my picture. I had trouble sleeping that night.
Alma said it was nice, though. To me it felt like an aging dame in a bad wig wearing rickety stiletto heels. Sort of like a Rula Lenska, if anyone remembers her. But Alma, who had a non-writerly website for years, assured me few people will ever look at or see the site.
While this sounds contradictory, it was a soothing thought.
Other shy writers told me they had the same funny feeling, but got used to it. They too confirmed that few will visit the site, and I was safely still pretty private. One likened it to wearing a wristwatch or a wedding band, and forgetting about it.
Gradually it happened to me also. I not only got used to wearing my modest site, but my second publisher, who encouraged blogging, got a veteran “webby.” I can confirm that you get used to it and, because few people visit, you can maintain the illusion that you are still in your slippers and pajamas.

Wait a minute, I actually am.
[It occurs to me that maybe the explosion in self-publishing isn't just a function of digital publishing, but also of the option of digital promotion. Our Shy Tribe can now put our selves out there from the privacy of our attic, and pretend to ourselves we are not really doing it.]
And Alma is convinced I secretly love it all. Maybe she knows something. Overcoming any fear is rewarding.


  1. Oh yes. I'm the epitome of oxymoron. I've always been very shy, but yet I've also loved to perform (dance, theater, music, etc.) I think maybe writers are a tiny bit (or a lot bit) schizophrenic.

  2. Another introvert here. Getting over the hump of believing other might actually want to read what I write was the first ordeal! Then there's that public speaking thing ....

    Group booksignings, however, have turned to be the kind of events I really enjoy. But then, I'm with other authors, not all by myself. :)

  3. It is scary to put yourself out there and not know how people will react to you and your work. But, that's part of our job, so we do it. ;)

  4. Love this post, Mirka! You get used to it though, don't you? I resisted having an "official author website" la di da for years, until finally I don't know why but I just knew it was time. Maybe because I got tired of Blogger's tricks trying to get me on G + and all their other little changes here and there. So I set up my website on Wordpress and I absolutely love it. Talk about vanity. I love going there and seeing all my favorite things in one place-- food, family, books, pictures of the painted horses. And bit by bit a few more visitors are stopping by, probably because I'm welcoming them with pictures of food :)

  5. Well, I'm an introvert, but I've had fun with my website over the years, because I'm always trying to think about what new thing I can put up on it that would be useful or fun for other people. I love the opportunity to be creative and share, and it always makes me happy when someone tells me they found my site helpful. I guess as an introvert, I deal with it all by making my website mostly about the content instead of about me. And you notice, I *don't* blog.

  6. Mirka, it is like you can read my mind! Starting a blog recently was scary and unnerving, and I had to work up to it. But I am enjoying it so much, and am taking "small steps" to get myself outside of my comfort zone. Have you read the book QUIET, THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING? I am reading it now, and it is very affirming. Thanks for sharing this post with us!

  7. "We want you to know us through our characters."

    Right on!

  8. Love this post, Mirka. I can totally relate. I wasn't so much troubled by having a website or even a blog, but joining facebook made me feel physically ill and I definitely lost sleep for a few nights. But you're right, you get over it.
    Love your "some would say we're the other kind of moron" comment. Haha. I'll be waiting for that post ;)