But I’ll tell you the truth: I’m definitely an introvert. Like the other Debs, it took me a long time to figure this out. Because here’s the thing: if I’m working, I can talk to anyone. In that scenario, I have a mission and a reason. Call it something more casual, though, and I have a harder time. Because then it’s just me, putting myself out there. And that can be awkward at best.
Networking. That’s definitely one of the words on my hate list. It’s so forced and stiff and, I don’t know, predatory? It’s not about making a natural connection, one built on shared interests or purpose or laughter. It’s about What can you do for me? (Or the reverse: What do you want from me?) And it’s the worst kind of social interaction. Tragically, it’s a backbone in journalism. And it’s definitely key in screenwriting, where whom you know is so much of what makes or breaks you.
And so I thought, as I settled into writing fiction, that I was looking forward to the solitary confinement, spending hours locked in a room of my own (which I have yet to get!), scribbling away. I tried that, and it worked for a few months. But then I realized that, despite what I’ve written above about being an introvert, in the writerly sense, I love the idea of collaboration. I love talking through story, meeting like-minded people, seeing how their brains work. I love the camaraderie and the understanding and the candidness, the fact that we can be honest and talk shop and bemoan the downs and celebrate the highs. The fun of being in the presence of other smart, thoughtful, creative people – people who get it without me having to explain everything.
Having been through the MFA experience, I’ve realized something else: I love people, but in small groups. I can’t take the cliques and the mean girls and the toxicity – high school is long over for me. I don’t have the patience for it. So, like in everything in life, it’s about finding your writerly tribe – the people who are genuine, who don’t like or dislike you based on your advances and sales numbers, who will support you and be happy for you, or lift you up when you are down. The people who become not just colleagues, but friends. Those people? Not so easy to find. But so worth suffering the initial networky interactions for – because when you find the real deal, it’s like magic!
What I’m saying is: I’m an introvert who needs people. Not a lot of people. And specifically the right people. But people, none the less.