Deb Joanne Loves Her Cabin. Maybe too much.

This week’s theme is cabin fever, that claustrophobic feeling you get when you’re holed up in a place by yourself for too long. Kind of like how Jack feels here (warning – language!):

I know I’ve said it before—I’m an introvert. What that means is that I live a lot inside my head and am quite happy spending time alone, working away at whatever it is I’m working away at. I’m also very much a homebody. And I’m kind of lazy. So you throw those three things together and you get a person who would be very happy to almost never leave the house.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I do enjoy interacting with others. Quite a bit, actually (and, uh, I don’t want to end up like Jack, so I make a point of it). But I get over-stimulated very easily, so that means much of my interacting is best done online and on my own terms, i.e. in small doses.

So, in essence, this brave new world of social networking was practically made for me and introverts like me. There is no more cabin fever, in my mind, because we can be social without ever leaving the cabin. And how perfect is that?

It’s like the heavens opened up and beamed a big light right on me and my computer and said, “THIS! This is how you will interact with the world henceforth.” And I saw that it was good.

Yes, I’m being very tongue-in-cheek here, but really, this world of Tweeting and Facebooking and blogging is so perfect for introverts who fear social awkwardness. We can hang out with a cup of coffee and chat with others and never have to worry if we have spinach in our teeth or if we’re laughing too loud or if at the end of it all, there’s going to be an awkward hug** before we part ways. Ahhh, introverted bliss.

But there’s a downside to this, too. When it becomes too easy to not leave the house and actually be with other people. Not to mention how it can be difficult to forge and maintain some real relationships (especially with extroverts who crave personal interaction with others in a way that I can’t even begin to understand) but it can also be detrimental to our work. Because as writers, we play God in that we make up people and to get them right, we need to be exposed to all types of people (even extroverts) and be excellent observers. We need to be aware of, and able to, transcribe things like the hand-gestures of someone excitedly telling a story, or the facial tic of someone you know is lying to you, or even the subtle quirk of an eyebrow on your lunch-mate, when your story is implausible. These are things you don’t observe while sitting at your computer—emoticons are not substitutes for a real smile or a wink (and really, who does that much winking? If I winked as much in real life as I do online, people would think I had a neurological disorder). We need to interact with other humans so we can embrace that humanity and remember what it’s like to have a real conversation with someone and have to somehow figure out how to tell them they have spinach in their teeth. It’s those kinds of experiences, lived and observed, that make us better writers, able to capture that humanity and put it on the page.

I often force myself to go out to be with other people, even when I don’t want to. I go out with friends or go to networking get-togethers (Yay TORKIDLIT!) or other booky events. And I almost always have a good time once I get there and some might even see me as not being the introvert I purport myself to be (I actually do fairly well in small groups). And this not only helps me maintain and forge real relationships with people, but it serves to fill what I call my cup of human observation. And we writers need to keep those cups full.

And although there may be an awkward hug at the end, it’s always worth it.

**After spending a really long time on The Oatmeal after finding and posting that link (because The Oatmeal is awesome and I can never go there without losing hours of time), I found this. And I really love it. Mom? You paying attention?


18 Replies to “Deb Joanne Loves Her Cabin. Maybe too much.”

  1. Oh, the wonderful and beautiful time-suck, rabbit-hole that is The Oatmeal. Love that place. And a clip from The Shining is never a bad thing for a Monday morning–ha!

    I agree with you Joanne on social media as a wonderful way to “get out and see people” without leaving our screens. I know we’ve gone back and forth on the subject in past posts–but there’s no question that Jack might not have grown so whacked if only he’d had a Twitter account to get through some of those heavier storms. Geesh.

    1. There is so much good and bad about social media, isn’t there? Overall it’s on the pro side for me, but some of the negatives are really negative sometimes. But YAY, another The Oatmeal lover!

  2. Ah, you described me to a T (or is it “tee?”) Anyway, my best friends always make fun of me because the first five years they knew me they (amongst themselves) described me as “aloof.” Fact is, it just takes me a long time to warm up!

    I’m willing to bet this Comfort Zone of the Interior is a common trait among writers.

    1. Exactly, Anne – I know I’ve been described as aloof, but I’m not! I’m just hanging back and observing, or maybe kinda shy and worried I’ll make a fool of myself. I love your phrase, “Comfort Zone of the Interior” – that describes it perfectly. Thanks for coming out to join us today, it’s nice and safe here!

  3. Yep, nothing I love better than being in my own house. It took me years to figure out that I actually am an introvert, and most people meeting me wouldn’t think I fit the description, but I am one too, and struggle to find that balance between the needed socializing and the time to myself.
    Great post!

    1. It probably took you a while to figure it out, Danielle, because I suspect you’re nearer to the middle of the Introvert/Extrovert spectrum. With your acting and your lovely outgoing personality, you certainly aren’t the hide in the corner type, like some of us (uh, me). 😀 Thanks for stopping by today – I wonder if your ears were burning since we were talking about you just yesterday on the newsflash!

  4. Oh, wow. This post could have been written by me. May I borrow it for Friday? *grin*

    And thanks for that link to The Oatmeal! I can’t believe I’ve never been there before. (Hmm. Or maybe I shouldn’t thank you. I sense a huge time sink on the horizon…)

    1. Sure, you can borrow the post, just put in a different clip – there are plenty to choose from. I know this, because I spent a considerable time on the weekend, screwing around on YouTube, once I was done with The Oatmeal. I’m so glad that if nothing else, I have changed your life by introducing you to The Oatmeal. I feel my work here is done.

  5. Okay Joanne, what is the Oatmeal it’s Monday and I worked all weekend and the old Brain ain’t what she used to be???????????
    Do you think your an Introvert(which I do not think you are just a bit shy) because you grew up with your Extroverted MOTHER, ha ha.
    Well writers, I would say that most of you are kind of Introvert’s rather than Extrovert’s because of the wonderful writing you do and to be able to do that you have to be a Jack, (man after my own heart with the language, yep girls I am up there with the best of them don’t be shocked)but then you also have to be out and about so that you can observe the character’s that are out in this world today. (Anyone of you want to follow me around for a day, we could write a really good book).
    Hey J you just need a Tuesday dinner with your Mom and Dad and you have your next book!!!!!!!.
    Have a good week Deb’s and remeber the party is coming you don’t want to miss it.
    See you all next week.

    1. Mother, next to you, Madonna is an introvert. And I know you like Jack and his penchant for profanity. I think you and Dad actually took me to that movie when it came out (I was ten). I’m so thankful you never believed in censorship, although I probably didn’t sleep for a week after that one.

      The Oatmeal is a website full of smart, clever comics. Click the link and prepare to lose a few hours of your day. But just make sure you complete your homework before our dinner tomorrow, please.

      1. I love it! Joanne, does your mom know how MY Bubby took me to see Oh, Calcutta off-Broadway when I was barely a teen? Yup. She was in hysterics throughout the whole thing. And my sister and brother grew up on frequent viewings of Caddyshack and The Blues Brothers, so it sounds like we were cut from the same cloth.;)

        (And wish we could all be there for the party, Marcia. My girls most of all. They are cupcakes aficionados. As in, they’ve never met a cupcake they didn’t like.)

  6. While I do love social networking, I’d definitely caution against anyone (even introverts) using it as a replacement for real-life social interaction. Because while introverts get their energy from within, they still get the health and happiness benefits of social contact. Introverts just might rather be with one or two other people rather than a huge mixer or at dinner with a big group. But love me some Facebook and Twitter of course. Joanne, you’re wise not to let one totally replace the other!

    1. Thanks for weighing in, Rachel. You’re so right, social networking isn’t a replacement for real-life interaction. This new world has almost become a weird virtual reality arena and I fear sometimes for kids, who spend so much of their time texting and spending time with others without coming face-to-face. Are we losing our ability to interact with others live? Hmmm.

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