The small town where I live is great. It’s safe. It’s affordable. It’s clean. There’s no traffic to speak of, and there are at least three or four very good restaurants, one of which makes the best creamy risotto (shout out to Black Creek Bistro). Plus, my town has several parks, so my son, a swing and slide addict, is covered. In short, I like it here. Really like it.
But there is a downside to living in this small, distinctly Southern little town: I’m an outsider here. Which, when I start to analyze things, has more to do with me than the town. Actually, I’m always an outsider. It’s in my DNA. I don’t know how to make friends, how to hob knob, how to network. When I’m not with my family or the minuscule semi-circle of people that can tolerate my presence for any length of time, I prefer being alone. And that, I’m beginning to realize, is a problem when it comes to my passion—writing. Pushing hard at forty with a short stick, I kind of wish I was more of an extrovert because who I am seems to be holding me back professionally.
Quick story. Recently, I was asked to participate in a small, but lovely literary festival here in my home town. Established writers. . .good food. . .panel discussions. . .book signings. The usual stuff. Sounds cool, right? And it is. Here’s my issue: I was a replacement. An author that I’m friendly with couldn’t do it, so he recommended me. Now, I’m not complaining; I’m delighted and grateful to participate, but I also couldn’t help wonder if I was putting myself “out there” more would I have been contacted first? Would I have been asked at all had my generous writer friend not put my name forward? Hmmm. . .
Let me stop right here. I freely admit that I sound like a bitter, underappreciated artist that, despite his so-called talent, isn’t getting his due. I know this whole post just screams, “Egomaniac!” And I accept that. I’ll even go a step further and flatly state that I, having published four novels, am an egomaniac. I write, after all, so that kind of comes with the territory. But along with the ego maniacal tendencies comes the crushing self-doubt, and right or wrong, I can’t help but feel slighted.
But I didn’t write this too bitch and moan. Well, that wasn’t my entire point. Musing on the matter led me to some questions I genuinely am interested in receiving answers to. . .your answers. So here’s a short list of them. Please, answer any/all you feel strongly about. And thanks in advance for the feedback.
Question #1: How do introverts, who prefer to remain relatively anonymous, but also want OUR WORK to gain exposure, promote ourselves offline?
Question #2: Are conferences/festivals/book events worth it? Sub-question: is networking as painful as it seems (at least, to me)?
Question #3: Do you think extroverts/skillful promoters really do have an advantage over the rest of us (us, meaning, me)?
Question #4: Do you really find it helpful when you attend lectures/talks/Q&As by authors?