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Posts Tagged ‘alone time’

So, I wrote this article and it got published!!!

Here it is: https://introvertdear.com/news/yes-introverts-can-be-actors/

For those who don’t know, Introvert Dear is a site geared toward introverts. They publish articles on a variety of related topics. Mine just happens to be about being an introverted actor.

I hope you enjoy it and the other wonderful articles on the site. Spend some time there; I do.

 

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The time of year has come where it’s nearly impossible for me to write. By that, I mean school has begun. It’s not that I don’t feel like writing. I do. I would really love to just chuck all of my lesson plans and papers out the window with no regrets and sit at the computer all day in my fantasy world, but there’s a slight problem with that. I’m not exactly supporting the family with any writing. At least not at the moment,. I do receive royalties, albeit tiny, from the publisher of my first book, (That would be Put Up Your Hair; A Practical Manual to Nineteenth Century Hair Styles, available through www.heritagebooks.com and Amazon, if anyone is interested. I’m getting better at shameless plugs.) but since one can’t live on dreams, one must have a real job in order to survive. Especially if there are children to support. Big children who have big expenses and who are going to begin leaving for college next summer. Until I can earn a steady income from writing, I shall have to keep plugging away at the day job. This, in turn, inspires guilt about not being one of those teachers who lives for her job, but that’s a topic for another day.

The difficult part about that is finding the time to write. Heck, during the summer when I do, sort of, have time, there are people all over the house at all hours of the day. I feel like if I’m sitting and writing for a long time the house will implode without me there. Of course, I know I won’t. How arrogant of me. Nevertheless, with the family home, it is really hard for me to focus. Marty is excellent at monitoring everything that goes on, but we live in a small house and I hear everything from children arguing to them doing their normal, everyday things, such as having Nerf gun battles. I used to get a lot more productive writing done when I was a substitute teacher and didn’t get a call for the day. I could crank out 10-15 pages at a time when everyone else was gone at school, but those days are gone, at least for now.

I went to a book signing last year where the author talked about staying up late after her family went to bed in order to write her book. She had small children and could not write during the day. I thought about what a great idea that was until I remembered that after teaching all day and coming home to make dinner, running kids around, going to rehearsals, etc., I was exhausted by 10:00 pm. We’re up at 6:00 am and I’m the kind of person who just does not function very well on little sleep. That strategy was not going to work for me. Neither was getting up early to write. Getting myself and a middle-schooler out the door in the morning is a chore as it is. Besides, I find that I do my best writing in the afternoon, but that is generally frowned upon when I’m supposed to be giving a math lesson.

I think I would feel better about it all if I could actually get signed with an agent for the book I’m currently peddling, a middle grade children’s fantasy novel with the working title, Traveler. I had an offer from a subsidy publisher this past winter and have had a few nibbles, but after about two years, it’s still sitting unloved on my computer table. In search of beta-readers, I’ve read it to two of my classes who have both loved it. My last year’s third- and fourth- grade students who are now my fourth- and fifth-grade students want me to read it aloud again this year. In fact, they wanted another story about Tommy, the main character. I know that kids like it, I think it will sell, it’s just a matter of getting someone in the publishing world to agree with me.

I actually have two novels in progress right now. One is the next in the series to Traveler and the other is a historical fiction novel told from the perspective of Bessie Blount, the mistress to Henry VIII who had a son by him. It’s not a sexed-up tawdry thing like the HBO Tudor series; it’s realistic and as historically accurate as I can make it. (Okay, there’s a little bit of sex in it, but it’s historically accurate sex.) That one doesn’t have a title yet, but I’m further along in writing it than the other one. Bessie has been a fascination of mine ever since I found out about her and not much exists about her early life or about her feelings on things. I’m loving being able to give her a voice and establish her as a real person, not just a king’s plaything. Anyway, it’s a lot of fun to write and I’d really love to finish it before next summer.

As I said before, Marty Man is really supportive of my writing, so it’s really about me being proactive and finding a time where I have no choice but to stick to it. That’s the difficult part. I’m a creature of habit and it’s difficult for me to make time for new things, although I’m usually pleasantly surprised when I do. Like when I signed up for a hula class last winter, which I only did because I knew the teacher and I was confident that she wouldn’t laugh at me. At least not to my face. I loved that class! It challenged me, but that made me want to succeed even more. I think finding a writing time will be the same way. Now, I’m not going to be able to write for a significant time every day. Teaching takes an incredible amount of time that used to be free time in the evenings and on the weekends, but I do want to find at least a little time each day when I can add to things, or to blog. Right now, there’s a laundry basket full of clean clothes across from me that keeps calling out for attention, but I was determined to sit down and write tonight. It can wait. The dusting can wait. The dishes can wait. Being a full-time writer is what I really want to do and I need to find time to make that happen while still paying attention to my responsibilities. Right now, however, I need to wrap this up because the eleven-year-old tornado is finished with his shower and trying to stall before bedtime, one of my many, but lovable, distractions.

One idea that I have is to go to the library on the weekends for a couple of hours. We have three libraries in our city and one has quiet, sound-proof cubicles for working. That will be step one for next weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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When I identify as an introvert, on Facebook or in real conversation, some people can’t believe it.

“You’re not shy!” they say. “You do theatre!” (or give presentations to large groups of people, or teach, or talk to people, insert other normal occurrence.)

The truth is, introversion has nothing to do with being shy, and I’m definitely not shy. They are completely two separate things. Being shy can mean that you find it really difficult to talk to anyone or to speak up for yourself. I want to shed a little light on what it means to be introverted.

I first started getting interested in learning about introverts and extroverts a few years ago. I have always, always, felt uncomfortable about small talk, going to parties, and being in situations where I don’t have any alone time. I always thought it was just me, that I was weird or strange. (Marty says I’m still weird, but that’s beside the point.) I also have a fair amount of anxiety and when that couples with one of those situations, it can really stress me out. Not every introvert has anxiety, however, so be careful not to assume that they do.

When I started seeing blog posts on Facebook from people who are introverts, I got really excited. They sounded just like me! There were other people who felt like I did! There were other people who loved being with their friends and relatives, but who then needed to “recharge” with alone time after the fact. There were other people who dreaded, or avoided, social events for fear of small talk with strangers or near-strangers. There were other people who hid at their desks or in their cars during lunch just so they don’t have to talk to anyone for a little while. Other people hated working in groups as much as I did! I wasn’t a freak; it was a normal thing.

There are different levels of introversion. Some people are really, really, introverted, hermit-like. They don’t have a lot to do with other people and don’t go out much at all. It’s not a bad thing, just what works for them. Other introverts are hard to single out. (Not that you should do that. We really don’t enjoy being singled out.) The most basic definition of an introvert is someone who needs some alone time in order to be at their best. The length of alone time needed varies from person to person and other characteristics, such as not liking small talk or working in groups, while common, don’t hold true for everyone.

Extroverts, on the other hand, get their energy from being with other people. Some are huge social butterflies and some aren’t as obvious. Which of these you identify with, or if you conclude that you are a combination of the two, is completely up to you. Maybe you have qualities of both introverts and extroverts. I have the feeling that many people, although they would identify with one or the other, would admit to having some tendencies of the opposite. I have some dear friends who are extroverts. They are a blast to be around! Some of them could be with people all day, every day and they can talk to complete strangers at social events about any subject and sound intelligent, something I envy. I’ve tried that, but it always feel forced and fake. I tend to start to ramble, or sound really nervous and I come off looking like I’ve lost some IQ points.

Parties can be difficult for me, everything from informal home gatherings to candle/food/bag home parties to wedding receptions. I’m usually not thinking of how fun the party will be, but of what things I can say to people without sounding like an idiot. Many times, I’m thinking of the least amount of time I can spend there without being rude. Once there, I say hello to people I know, but then normally try to find a quiet corner where I can observe rather than actively participate. I may very much want to see the people who will be there, but I feel anxious about going, even though I may have a fabulous time once I’m there and stay much longer than I anticipated. If that happens, though, I know that I will need a lot of quiet time afterward. I travel to a specific conference once or twice a year where I sometimes give presentations and where I’m with fabulous people all day long. Sharing a room with someone would be cheaper, but I crave a sanctuary where I can be alone when I choose.

Things are different, however, if I have a job to do, a purpose to my talking with others, another common introvert trait. Parent/teacher conferences? Unsettling for other reasons, but usually no problem. Rehearsals for a play? It’s fine, I’m working. Meetings? News to tell? News to receive? Piece of cake. Giving presentations comes easy for me, probably because I already know what I’m going to say and although I’m speaking to a room full of strangers (and friends, in some cases), it’s not a two-way conversation. Answering the phone? Ehhhhh…noooo… Not unless I know it’s going to be important, like one of the kids’ schools calling or a potential employer. I always listen to the voicemail, though, and if it’s important, I will call back.

Now that’s not to say I don’t like to have conversations. I enjoy in-depth discussions on many, many, many, topics, one-on-one or in small groups. I love connecting with someone, listening to someone’s problems, or exchanging the day’s events with my husband and kids. I can talk to cousins and siblings for hours. I just like my conversations to be meaningful rather than talking for the sake of talking. Otherwise, I’m fairly direct about whatever information I need to get across.

If you have someone in your life who likes to hang back at functions and/or disappears for a while and you haven’t been able to figure out why, they may just be a bit introverted and need some recharge time. Just give them some space and they will return, ready to participate. When I was a kid at the lake, my cousin found it incredibly frustrating to find that after hours of playing in the water, I wanted to disappear into the cottage to read a book. “You can read a book anywhere!” he would say. “You’re at the lake!” Now, it all makes sense to me.

I don’t want to prattle on and on about this. There are already several wonderful articles on introversion, extroversion, and how to tell if you’re one or the other. I know that I repost some of those a lot and while some people may find them interesting, there are probably those who think, Another article on introverts? Really? For me, I like seeing them. I like to know that even on those days when I feel like I don’t fit into the world in general, there are others who are like me. While there are times when people enjoy being unique and different, some actually take great pride in it, deep down we also want reassurance that we are not alone.

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