I happened to be beside a friend the other day as she finished a book. She turned to the end where the picture of the author happened to be, looked it over, and said “I knew
What did she know?
I’m not going to answer this question immediately. Not to be coy, but I want to give the idea some time to percolate. If I jump in with my theory too soon, this becomes a leading question*, and I’d rather the answer evolved naturally.
I tell people on occasion that I like to write. The act of writing is an act of joy. I always thought that this was a neutral fact, like saying you liked your eggs scrambled, your sky blue, and your favorite season to be preferably spring. It recently occurred to me, possibly in aftermath of the “I knew it”fiasco, that this identification could be negative.
There are two perceptions that I see running in parallel: that of the writer, and that of the introvert. This comes from reading Quiet
by Susan Cain, which covers the gamut of what it means to be an introvert in the modern world. In part, she argues that introverted behavior is considered negative, while extroversion has become the ideal. People asked to described the generic introverts use descriptors such as “ungainly,” “neutral colors,” and “skin problems.” In contrast, the extrovert ideal is “gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight…prefers action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt.” So the idea of someone typing away in a cafe, happily translating the ideas living inside their head onto the page probably falls under the definition of an introvert. That is my assumption.
There are exceptions. I’m sure there are writers out there who have mastered the trifecta of socializing, binge drinking, and writing. This person clearly has it made and has nothing to fear. I can’t speak to that person.
However, when I thought of a hypothetical writer, I used to picture a deep and intense thinker, someone who lived a little ways outside of social norms, who observed and created, someone I could admire. That picture may be changing. When the phrase “I’m a writer” comes out of my mouth, it can act like a filter, and I wonder how the perception of me alters when that filter has been applied.
Of course, none of this means I’m going to act any differently. Life is difficult enough as it is.
* A leading question attempts to influence an answer. For example: What color is the grey dog?
Yes, this post has been re-written.