Anne has been something of a hero for me, not least because she led me into blogging. Her first book, Sugar and Snails is one year old and we are going to celebrate, if only Anne will come out from her introverted shell. But as you’ll see, being an introvert is no excuse not to have fun. Maybe I’m an introvert too. Now wouldn’t that be a turn up?
Warning: introverted writer at large
This summer, my colleagues at my voluntary job were initially very understanding when I said I might not make the next shift, given that it fell immediately after a trip up north to launch my debut novel. Of course, they said, you might not be back in time. I’ll be back, I said, but I’ll probably need some quiet time after all the excitement. They looked puzzled. When I explained I was an introvert, they looked more puzzled still. They couldn’t understand how someone so friendly and chatty could be one of those.
Confusion abounds about what it means to be an introvert, even among those who strongly identify as such. To my understanding, however, shyness and social withdrawal are side effects of a more fundamental difference between introverts and extroverts in terms of whether we are drained or energised by social interaction. When I explained to my colleagues that introverts aren’t necessarily less sociable, but need time alone to recover, a couple mentioned that they were like that too. I felt like a missionary gaining another convert for the quiet revolution, a movement geared towards celebrating the reflective qualities of introverts.
With my background in psychology, I’ve come across a fair few personality questionnaires, some of which leave a lot to be desired. But the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which assesses introversion/extraversion along with three other dimensions of personality, is one of the more respected. There is a simpler, and free, Quiet Revolution Personality Test, which must be okay since it correctly categorised me as an introvert (!)
There can’t be a better job for an introvert than a writer: a fine excuse for retreating into one’s own head. Alone at my keyboard in the daytime, sitting reading a novel at night, going out and actually meeting people becomes a treat. It’s perhaps no surprise that I’ve written a novel that features an introvert, a prickly character with a secret to hide. But the days when writers wrote and someone else handled the publicity are long gone. How does the shrinking violet promote her work?
Of course, the internet takes care of some of it; it doesn’t feel so exposing strutting about in the virtual world. But we still need to get out there signing copies of our books. I did wonder how I’d cope, whether I’d claim my authorial authority or sit cringing, hoping no-one would notice I was there.
Public speaking wasn’t entirely new to me; I’d done some lecturing and conference presentations in my previous job. But I’d always been nervous standing up before an audience. In fact, the first time I spoke about my research in a small seminar I actually fainted. Fiction is so much more personal than academic work; would it be even harder to talk about my novel?
It turns out it’s been a sheer pleasure. Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached that point in my life where my needs for solitude and interaction are well-balanced. Perhaps it’s because a published novel has been subjected to so many edits, there’s little chance of tripping up over the prose. Whatever the reason, I relish the opportunity to appear in public to read from my work.
Yet there came a point at the party hosted by a friend after the formal launch, when I needed that off-switch. Ignoring everyone else, I sat at the dining table, grazing on the dregs of the buffet meal. But that was okay. After a good night’s sleep I was revitalised and able to surprise my colleagues when I turned up for my regular Sunday shift.
Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill and longlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, is scheduled for publication in May 2017. Anne is also a book blogger and author of over 60 published short stories. Catch up on her website: annethology or on Twitter @Annecdotist.
In honour of its first birthday, Sugar and Snails is available in Kindle format at only £0.99 / $0.99 until 31 July 2016.