I joke that I am a Cancer Crab and that I live up to it, but really, it's the sad, sad truth.
I am 20 times more likely to stay at home in my little shell doing what I think I want to do, than to accept an invitation to do anything else. Seriously,the way I complain about it, some people could get the idea that I'm agoraphobic!
Now, I am a bit of an introvert, and I do get nervous meeting new people or having to interact with large groups (parties where I don't know anyone drive me crazy), but that's not what's stopping me going out.
No, the whole 'staying in my shell' thing is really more a combination of laziness and overzealous time-management.
I'm terribly content to be in my house. I have lots of fun art to look at, and books to read, and two dogs to cuddle up to, and once they're snuggled into the crook of your legs on the couch, it's just impossible to move... and....what? you want me to go with you to the fabric store? Oh I know, it's something I like doing, but I think I'm just too busy today (Ann says as she is sitting half asleep on the couch with the dogs curled up against her)...
Also, my idea of time-management is almost always finding some excuse to turn down going out. I tell myself it's because I need to write, or read, or research something for the book, or watch some movie, or relax for a few minutes because I had a hard week at work, or something, but I have a sneaking suspicion it is related to reason #1.
ANYWAY... my whole point in this post is to tell you to Break Out of Your Shell! Don't be a Crab like me, no matter how comfortable you are in there, you've got to challenge yourself sometimes, leave the house, and do something you would't normally do. Unless you're writing a book on how one becomes agoraphobic, because then you'd be right on track.
So last night I went with fellow blogger, Valerie Geary, to hear 5 successful, award-winning Portland YA authors, Laini Taylor, Lisa Schroeder, L.K. Madigan, Christine Fletcher, and April Henry, speak about their writing, their processes, and their experience in the business. And it was great. There were parts where I felt proud that I already knew something they knew about the business, and parts where I felt relieved to know that my writing process wasn't that different from those of successful authors. I loved hearing that they all came to writing a bit later in life and were published in their 30's-40's (sometimes on the web it seems like everyone is getting a book deal at 15, and I'm the irrelevant old fogey just now trying), and I loved hearing about their reactions to editor's notes on their manuscripts-- it seems a certain level of venting and a few days of trying not to think about the editor's changes (before finally giving in) is normal. They all agreed that their books were infinitely better thanks to the insights of their editors.
It was also super fun to hang out with Valerie again (although I think the fabric of space/time will rip wide open and the universe will implode if we come up with any more eerie similarities between us-- last night we discovered we're both reading World War Z!). Doing her part to break out of her shell, Valerie has been reading books in genres well outside her normal comfort zone, and then posting reviews on her blog. This month has been travel books, next month she tackles another equally foreign (to her) genre.
So, I am going to take my own advice and try to break out of my shell more often. I'm going to read books that I'm not sure about, I'm going to go to author events and writer's group events even when I'm feeling shy, and by god, I'm going to go to the fabric store next time someone asks. You never know where inspiration is going to strike! And you never know what experiences are going to come in handy for your next book.
Besides, who wants to be on their death-bed reminiscing about all those great times sitting on the couch?