I know this is a strange confession for a writer but when it comes to writing regular blog posts, I struggle. If you check my archives I post about once a month and that is a great accomplishment for me. So if this is such a difficult task, why do I do it? Three reasons really. One, I love connecting with other writers and readers, two, as a novelist I need a website where people can find me and three, there are times when I have something I really need to say.
So when I mentioned my peculiar reticence to posting more frequently to my writer friend, Claire, she challenged me to write more often. I protested, I dug in my heels, I threw a temper tantrum but she wouldn’t be put off until I accepted. The challenge: to write a post once a week. Gulp. The thought of that is making my palms sweaty and I think I’m having heart palpitations even as I write this. So why do I have such an aversion to doing this? Is it because I write fiction and this is non-fiction? Do I think I have nothing important to say? Do I fear rejection? Is it low self-esteem? Is Mercury in retrograde?
I do love a good mystery so I did what I always do when faced with a question I don’t know the answer to; I pondered it for a few days. And the answer is quite simple.
I’m an introvert. And on the introversion/extroversion scale I sit on the far left of centre. I’m not a hermit living in a cave but I probably would be if not for the fact I still have a day job I have to go to. I have often joked with Claire that in a previous life I was a monk or a hermit living in seclusion.
And if you have read anything on introverts you will know it has nothing to do with being shy but everything to do with how I process information and the world around me. Contemplation is a natural place for me to dwell. And that is why writing full-length novels is what I do. I love the time it takes to delve into a story, spending months with my characters and seeing what unfolds. It takes me six months to a year to get a novel ready for publication and in that time I write three drafts and that doesn’t include the revisions once it is sent to the publisher. And I know this sounds daft, but I enjoy working on revisions and edits too. When I write novels there is less constraint both in subject matter and time compared to blogging. I am more turtle than hare.
This way of being is also the reason I am drawn to gardening. In order to have a successful garden you need to take it slow, get a feel for the land and the soil, for how the wind dances over the land and how much sun the plants get through the changing seasons. It is important to understand the interconnectedness of the plants, insects and soil that make up the garden. The only way to gain this knowledge is through observation. And growing things takes time from planting seeds to harvest, several months in fact. There is nothing fast about gardening, except for how quickly weeds can spread.
Claire writes short stories; beautiful, evocative short stories. She also worked for a time as the editor of a village newspaper. She had a few reporters on staff but she had to interview, write and put together the paper mostly single-handed. And she had to do it every week. I have told her several times how her ability to do this was beyond my comprehension and just the idea of working on such a tight deadline and writing non-fiction is my version of hell. Why? Because it would be way outside my comfort zone. More like being pushed out of a plane without a parachute than stepping over an imaginary line into the unknown.
I trust Claire. She knows me and what makes me tick. I value her assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. We also share a desire to grow and to stretch who we are and who we aspire to be. So here I go, the first post of the challenge is almost done. And who knows how I will feel in three months if I keep this up. Perhaps, over time it will feel less intimidating and become a comfortable way of being for this introvert.
I love the word comfort for it is derived from the Latin word meaning to strengthen. So with fingers crossed, this blogging thing may strengthen my ability to sit down once a week and put my non-fiction thoughts on paper so that I truly will feel comfortable and comforted when faced with a blank screen and a really short deadline.