A Room of One’s Own and All That

by Big World Writing Club Moderator A2

Right now there are way too many books on my to-read list, and my halfway-through list, and my “I’ve got a sample on my Kindle and I think I want to read the whole thing” list.

One of the Kindle samples I have is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Here’s Cain’s TED talk on the values of introversion.

Now, this book has nothing to do with writing and writing process, certainly not directly or explicitly. But, in the book, Cain gives the reader an informal quiz. One of the items in the quiz says, “I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.”

I’ve been turning this around in my head, and I suppose I’ve never connected the dots between my introversion and my writing process. Ever since finishing my first NaNoWriMo last year, I’ve been very reluctant to, you know, show it to other people. I’m sure that some of that has to do with the “Oh, I just finished NaNo, and I’m sure this thing is too horrible to be let out into the light of day” feeling that we all get from time to time, particularly when facing the possibility that other people are going to be reading and critiquing our work.

Some of my reluctance is practical. After I finished it, I let it sit for awhile, which I heard was the conventional wisdom anyway. Once I did go back to it, I gutted it like an old house. I left the basic premise and ideas intact, but I really just scooped out a bunch of things and replaced them with more fully-formed ideas. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few months: restoring the house. I’m still not quite satisfied and it doesn’t feel finished to me. Or at least not finished enough to show someone else.

Who gives a gutted house to another person to beta read?

Lastly, reading that little piece in the Susan Cain book made me realize that I’ve always been that way about my writing. I’ve never been one to immediately open up and share about the ideas or the actual product. And that’s OK. I think we all have to be aware of how we like to work. But being part of a writing group is shifting some of my thinking a bit, and helping me understand the value of writing community.

I’m getting there. Introvert or not, I realized that I need to at least set some goals for myself, or this thing will languish on the shelf until I’m 93.

So, at the end of April, it’s beta time.

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2 thoughts on “A Room of One’s Own and All That

  1. Great post! I read the sample chapter of Cain’s book and found myself nodding in recognition. When I get the chance to write for two hours without interruption, I feel recharged. Going to a big party, not so much.

    As for showing work: well, the gutted house would be shown only to fellow fixer-uppers. 🙂 It’s really important to know your process and to stick by it.

    Writing is a field in which introverts have a positive advantage: far more likely to sit quiet and get the work done than hang out and talk about process.

  2. Pingback: Form, Long vs. Short | Big World Writing Club

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