Saturday, August 7, 2010

A conference of introverts

I showed up early yesterday at the Willamette Writers Conference. I needed to drop off my books to sell at the Barnes & Noble table and pick up my registration materials. And I knew parking would be difficult. It was but after driving around a bit, I found a spot and got everything else taken care of in about 5 minutes. I wasn't hungry so standing in line for bagels and unripe fruit wasn't very appealing so I wandered around reminding myself of the layout of the hotel (pretty simple really) and then sat in various places and tried to strike up conversations with other attendees.

That was almost as frustrating as looking for a place to park. While people weren't rude (they were willing to give me monosyllabic answers to my questions for "Nice cool morning, isn't it?" and "Is this your first conference?"), nobody would engage and I realized it was a conference for extroverts. There's a reason we're writers and not performers, novelists instead of dancers, poets instead of pianists. We live mostly in our heards and we like it that way.

Eventually I gave up and took my tea over to a round table in the lobby and sat down and spent the next half hour thinking about my novel and some of the "what if" possibilities for further plot complications. It was a satisfying half-hour of thinking and note-taking in the spirit of Writing Friday and I felt reconnected to my book and connected to fellow writers in a way that I couldn't seem to do conversationally. I also felt proud of myself for making an effort, even if it came to very little.

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