I’ve recently discovered that sometimes a writer just needs to put down the pen or close the laptop and get out and mix with people. This is a rather bizarre statement coming from me because I’m an introvert and have struggled for years with shyness in public. Lately, I was in two different social situations that I normally find uncomfortable and have to psych myself up for beforehand. Oddly, I found them enjoyable.
The long hours a writer spends alone don’t bother me at all. I enjoy spending time inside my own head – usually. But I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes a writer needs to get out, experience other people, places, and situations.
A couple weeks ago, I went with my younger daughter to a festival to mark the end of a school-sponsored Parents as Reading Partners program. This is an annual event and the kids always love it, but I usually cringe when it comes around. It’s held in the school gym and teachers man booths where the children can get their faces painted or play games or win prizes like books and toys donated by local businesses. A musical group plays in the auditorium next door and this year they also had a former gold-medal Olympian give a talk and have photos taken with the kids. The Olympian’s program was clever and more inspiring than I thought it would be and I was able to catch up with several parents I know while the kids went off to play games, etc.
Yesterday, my girls and I went with my mother and sister to a wedding shower for my sister, put on by the soon-to-be inlaws. Now, I’m not a fan of wedding and baby showers and the stupid games you have to play and all the fuss that goes on. I was a bit of a nervous wreck at my own, though from the photos, I didn’t look it. So, here we are at a social event with possible ramifications for my sister and – it went very well! Her new inlaws are warm, pleasant people and now, I’m even looking forward to the wedding!
I can’t quite put my finger on any one reason for my change of heart on this subject. Maybe it’s because of the long winter and I was eager to get out of the house. Perhaps I was feeling a need to mingle with other people after avoiding them for so long. Possibly I was just bored. Could it be I’m finally getting used to these social situations? Probably a combination of all of the above.
It’s an odd dichotomy that some (not all, I’m sure) writers, who write about the interactions between people and the world around them, should be so removed from the world and society for long stretches of time. I know that’s my inclination, but I’m pulled back into the real world by my family on a daily basis.
How about you? Do you prefer to hole up in your writing space and interact mainly with the people in your stories? Or do you like to be out in the world and use personal interactions as inspiration for your writing? Maybe you are somewhere in-between. I’d love to hear what others have to say on this.