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Ambivert Navigates Spotlight

Growing up, when I wanted to be in the spotlight, I was. Through dance, music, theater, and more, I put myself square in the middle of the stage and relished it. Attention was the nature of the “job” if you will, especially when I was first chair trumpet, section leader in choir, starring in the musical, and the team captain of danceline. It was expected, and I loved it when I chose it.

How very extroverted of me.

When I didn’t want to be in the middle of it all, I hung back. A lot! I was happy to blend in, to see how something was done before I took a stab at it, to allow others to take the risk before I did. In school, when teachers had us read aloud, I counted to see which paragraph would be mine and practiced reading it in my head so I wouldn’t screw it up and be the laughing stock of the room because I tripped over my own tongue. I really, really hated reading aloud. Still do.

How very introverted of me.

Writing has been different than both those experiences, and I think it comes down to the fact that I’m an ambivert, stuck smash in the middle. And I’ve been coming to terms with that struggle for years. Not sure I’m succeeding either.

Every time I’ve taken any sort of personality test measuring introversion and extroversion, I’m right in the very middle, yet it took until I was in my thirties before I learned about being an ambivert.

am·bi·vert /ˈambəˌvərt/
noun PSYCHOLOGY

a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.

Google Dictionary

Truly, I’m an ambivert, and that fits me just right.

When I first started writing romance, I dove in head-first. I was scared to show my work to anyone, but since I didn’t think anyone would read it, I posted my very first chapter online. When my inbox started filling up with reviews and requests for more, I wondered what I’d just gotten myself into. But I already had chapter two well on its way, so I posted that.

Eventually I found a beta reader/editor who somehow helped me feel shielded a bit, or at least not as exposed. I wasn’t ready for that spotlight yet. But the more chapters I shared with the world, the more comfortable I got with the attention.

But I’ve never gotten to that space where I wanted to stand on the middle of the stage with a spotlight heating my face, microphone in hand. I’d do that in a heartbeat if I were singing, however.

Writing is a solitary activity. As writers, we’re in our heads a lot, talking to imaginary characters who are real to us, listening to them so we can tell their stories to the best of our abilities. It’s like the perfect mix for me.

But I want my characters to have the spotlight, not me. Which is why I find social media and marketing that is so author-focused to be a challenge. If I could post as my characters, that would be easy!

OMG, that feels natural! I love doing that. I’ve done it in the past with Jude even.

But that’s not how it goes because I can’t have an account for every single character or I’d drive myself mad and never have time for actual writing.

So instead, I’m putting myself out there and sharing stuff I’m positive no one cares about.

I ate avocado toast this morning.

I just spotted two male cardinals at my bird feeder.

I’m struggling to put words on the page and have been for three years now.

Add the introverted side of me to that mix, the part that wants to hole up in my writing cave and just be left alone until I finally get these characters to talk to me, and you might be able to see why I’ve been avoiding social media more and more these days.

I’d rather write a longer column here on my blog than toss a short post out for likes. I’d rather take photos of things I love and share them on Instagram than try to make myself the center of attention. Look at me! Look at me!

Right now, I don’t want anyone looking at me. It’s too much pressure considering I’ve been struggling to write Fresh Earth for three years now. THREE years! But if you’ll notice in the footer here, I’m making progress.

Instead, I want people looking at my characters or my books. They are a reflection of me whether I intended it or not. Not every single character, but I can easily say that Hugo’s self-sacrifice for the good of the family is 100% me. Charlie and Hudson’s suffering in silence, hurting down to their very cores but never telling a soul is totally from me. And Cas’s brash, bold, seeming defiance that anything ever bothers him is me.

I put a brave face on for the world. I hide behind trite tweets and status updates that pretend everything is great when I’ve been struggling with depression for a good month now. I’ve been beating back imposter syndrome every single day so I don’t stop writing altogether. I’ve put all my focus and attention into those things I have control over right this second:

  • editing books I’m getting my rights back to.
  • reworking blurbs, covers, and stories already out in the world so they might appeal to more people.
  • trying to figure out effective marketing so new readers are willing to take a chance on my books.
  • building this website.
  • building my store website.
  • cleaning my house!
  • loving my kid!
  • appreciating the hell out of the man I love.

And beyond that, I’m attempting to make my characters the focus again. They matter! Not me. Look at them. They deserve to be in the limelight. I’m happy sitting in the first row watching them be adored.

If you’re interested, you can read more about Hugo, Hudson, Charlie, and Cas in these books, though Charlie’s real story is being written in Fresh Earth.

Thoughts?

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