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Monday, January 19, 2015

Perspectives on Writing

I recently read Quiet, by Susan Cain. It was very enlightening. Susan Cain explores what it means to be an introvert in a world that rewards extrovert behaviors. I've realized I am very much an introvert. I need my alone time, my quiet spaces with no social interaction. My husband, who for years has claimed to be an introvert, is really an extrovert. He likes crowds. He thrives on social interactions. He gets energy from these where I am just drained afterwards. Understanding these differences is helping us better understand each other.

As part of the book, Susan Cain explores different occupations that introverts tend to be drawn to. No surprise that writing is one of those. She quotes Kafka on what it is like to be a writer. He's speaking to his wife:

"You once said that you would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen, in that case I could not write at all. For writing means revealing oneself to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind . . . That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough."

Someone else, I can't remember who but I would love to know the source of this quote, said: Sharing your writing is like walking around naked in front of everyone.

I know I have a very hard time writing if anyone else is sitting near me. It's an intensely private and personal endeavor. I struggle to scrape away the distancing words and phrases and let the raw emotions onto the page.

And then what do authors do? We put those naked screaming emotions out in public for everyone to read.

If you want to understand introverts and extroverts better, go read Quiet. It's worth the time.