On Being Quiet

Katherine Longshore 6 Tuesday, January 22, 2013
This week our theme is "All About Me"--our code for "Choose Your Own Adventure".  We can write about anything and perhaps get a little more personal than usual.

The thing is, I don't talk about myself.  Some people would say I don't talk much at all.  But I'm growing to realize that I'm just quiet.  I like to listen.  I like to observe.  And I like to take mental notes (that's a warning, just in case I ever meet you in person. :) I think a lot of writers are--though I'm constantly surprised by the number who aren't.  It's not that I don't want to be noticed--I have no desire to hide or be invisible--it's just that I don't want to have to tell people to notice me.

We live in an age and work in a business where it seems like everyone has to be wearing a sandwich board shouting LOOK AT ME.  The din on the Internet is deafening.  Yes, some of it is self-promotion, and yes, it can be irritating the 476th time you get a tweet from someone saying "Buy My Book!".

But I think the majority of it is just people wanting to be heard.  Wanting to be noticed.  Making a connection.  So people post what they ate for breakfast or how many words they've written or what they're watching on TV or what their dog just did.  Some people will tell you their entire life story as soon as they meet you.  Some people stand on the street corner with a sign explaining why they're there.  Some people fill lecture halls or write magazine articles or have endless dinner parties.

I write books.

It's in our nature to want to make a connection.  Whether it's on Twitter or in person or through a book or by carrier pigeon.  We are, by and large, a social species.  Maybe we don't pick each other's nits anymore, but we want to share that closeness.  Somehow.  Through some medium.  It doesn't matter what it is.  Whatever your choice may be, embrace it.  Embrace the media you're comfortable using.  Reach out.

Sometimes, I worry that people will think I don't talk a lot because I've never done anything--because I have nothing to say.  Because I am a boring nobody.  To look at me--even to meet me--you'd never guess I'd written a book, traveled the world, had a broken heart, or gotten into scrapes I consider myself lucky to have survived.  Quiet people live quiet lives, right?  Adventure is loud.  Success is highly visible.  Importance is garrulous.  I worry that if I'm not noticed, maybe I really will disappear.  That maybe I just don't matter.

But then I go back to the story at my fingertips.  I go back to my characters and let them take over.  Let them do the talking.  And I discover that--in a way--I don't matter.  My importance, my problems, my ego all disappear.  And that's when I know my writing is at its best.  Because I am at my quietest.


I had to giggle when reading this. I've been told a time or two that I'm "occasionally quiet". Then my friends will say, right away, that it's the quiet ones you have to be carefull of because they've done and seen more than they SAY to the world.

Yes, quiet is a good thing! I think this is where the whole marketing aspect of writing gets tough for some of us, because it takes a certain amount of quiet to write the darn book, and then it's time to be loud and self-promote (but in classy, acceptable ways that don't annoy people I hope). And switching back & forth is difficult for some of us.

Reminds me of a few "introvert" funnies I've seen recently on Pinterest. We sit back and observe and don't necessarily feel the need to be overly social, but that doesn't mean we're boring. Or lack deep thoughts. Or have no emotions. All it means is our words are used more on the page than in actual social situations. And that's okay! People still end up hearing our words, just in a different way! :)

We are not alone in our quiet! I just ordered Susan Cain's book (called, interestingly enough, QUIET) and can't wait to see what she says...

Lovely post, Katy. Lovely, and so truly you. xox S

This is a great listen - http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html

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