Reflections

Art imitating life.

Miles run yesterday: 4.5

Gluten-full meals I have eaten since Saturday: 8

Minutes I have had alone all summer: 3

I am not a loner.

Much has been made about all writers being introverts. I am not one.

However, and this is a big however, I do need at least a tiny pocket of time alone here and there. Since the kids got out of school, we have had one social outing after another. We have been to the lake, the pool, the ocean (are you sensing a theme here?), and spent time with two sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors.

I am afraid that my brain has stopped working.

Has your brain ever stopped working? Please send examples so I don’t feel so alone. Oh, wait. I don’t feel alone because I’m not alone. Ever.

No one is knocking on the door to my office, so I am going to quickly thank two awesome blogger friends for awards they were gracious enough to pass along.

Thank you to JM McDowell for the Thanks for Writing Award. JM is a thoughtful writer who has a wonderful series about beta readers and editing. She also blogs about her archaeological day job. She is like a blogging Indiana Jones, and I love Indiana Jones.

I’m not one for rules, and truly, I give out so many personal details on this blog, the award givers are probably hoping I will withhold 7 things about myself instead of doling them out. So here are a few blogs that deserve a Thanks for Writing shout out:

Josh Mosey: I discovered Josh’s blog recently. He writes about writing. And plus, he has a baby on the way, so that’s two super-exciting reasons you should check in to see what he’s up to.

Robin Coyle: Robin blogs about all things writing. She’ll help you clean up your manuscript by getting rid of all the weak words. In fact, in some cases, you may not have any words left over. She also posts cool photos of things like libraries cooler than those in your neighborhood and black-and-white pics of bygone authors.

4amwriter: Kate is a writer. She not only writes about being a mom and writing at ungodly hours of the morning but also posts on Limebird Writers, a nifty bunch of writers who give tips, talk about writing dilemmas, etc.

And thank you to Terrilee Clarke at Run.Dog.Cat.Me. Terrilee is one of the funniest bloggers around, and not only am I one day going to move next door to her so we really can talk over the fence, but I may confiscate her Grandma Alice for my own gene pool.

So many blogs inspire me. But here are a few not to miss:

The Wanderlust Gene: Being a homebody myself, I am inspired by images from all around the world. Can you imagine living in Sri Lanka and seeing elephants wandering the streets? This blog has the most gorgeous photos and musings. A must-see.

The Poe Log: By inspiring, I mean inspiring me to laugh. She is so funny and posts lots of things about reality television. A seriously good laugh.

Eggton: I’ve probably said it before, but you will laugh out loud when you read her stuff. Plus, she posts hilarious photos of her dogs and yummy recipes, too!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I love to blog, and I’m very thankful to have people who read my words. I appreciate any time you have spent at Writing by the Numbers.

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Extroverts Anonymous

Wanna be my friend?

Chip time for recent half-marathon: 1:55 (a PR!)

Chip time for yesterday’s 10-miler race: 1:28 (a PR!)

Pace for both (odd coincidence): 8:51

Hi, I’m Anne. And I’m an Extrovert.

Much has been written in fellow writers’ blogs about writers and how so many of us are introverts. I thought maybe I could share an extrovert writer’s experience, just to Represent.

My entire childhood was a lesson in getting ahead socially while remaining unconcerned about academic possibilities: my dad was fairly horrified when I told him before first grade that I was looking forward to going back to school after the summer because of the social implications.

In kindergarten, I got a few friends excited about cutting our hair with safety scissors in the kitchen center. I may not have been able to tie my own shoes (come on, people: there were these things called buckles), but I had leadership qualities.

In first grade, I affected the future math prospects of a few large group of students who drew monsters with me instead of learning borrowing in subtraction.

In third grade, I was Witch #1 in the class play, which was a very important role, full of dramatic nuances. I had three very pivotal lines, which I’m sure people remember to this day.

When we moved to Atlanta the summer before fourth grade, I was nervous. I didn’t have any friends.

Then I met my best friend on the first day of fourth grade when she looked around the empty classroom and deduced that we were the only two people still left to get on Bus 1084. She said, very profoundly, “Are you on Bus 1084?” And because of that, we were friends and read “Little Women” together and decided to go to neighboring universities when we were 18 and switched clothes  and danced to David Bowie at Putt-Putt Golf when our class went on a field trip to Savannah.

The issue with being an extrovert is that social agenda often takes priority over, well, anything else.

Introvert writers have pointed out that being an introvert is helpful because writing consists of sitting in a chair, persevering while being alone for many hours at a time.

I’m not actually that good at that part. But here is a summary of the pluses and minuses involved in being an extrovert.

1. Running. I’m really fit right now. For me. (My triceps still wobble when I point at things, but I’ve found I can get around it by not pointing; just nodding my head towards things in a meaningful way.)

This is not to brag, but to point out that the reason I’m really fit is that I have a running partner. If she didn’t run with me, I’d still run, just not as much. And I wouldn’t enjoy it in the same way. And I wouldn’t laugh like I do when we run together, because that would just look weird and slightly maniacal.

Running is a solitary activity by its nature. But this spring, I realized that my aerobic capacity has increased dramatically. Wanna know why? Because we run for lots of miles while talking. Constantly. Then, when I run by myself, I feel like I have lots of extra air.

Slight negative: I never used to get Personal Records (PRs) at races, because I talked the whole way. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Races are like super-charging an extrovert. It’s like running, but running on crack. People! People who like to run! People I can talk to while I run who I don’t know yet!

It’s a problem.

The races I’ve done over the past several years have made me best-running-race-buddies with: a 55-year-old surgeon who smiles a lot, a marathon pacer who my running partner dubbed Justin Timberlake (JT), a fellow mom whose kids were in college… the list goes on and on.

I ran the half-marathon recently by myself, and I talked to no one on purpose. It was weird.

At this weekend’s 10-miler, a race I’ve collected friends at in the past, I had to talk to myself: “Run your own race. Run your own race. Run your own race.” I was in front of the 9-mile pacers when we hit the Hill Challenge that goes on for one whole mile between miles 8 and 9. I felt low. I was tired. I started to walk just a little because other people were, and it looked really fun. And relaxing. And then the 9-mile pacer chick comes up behind me and says, “Come on, girl, you can do it.”

And for an extrovert, it was just what I needed to hear. We talked all the way up the rest of the hill; it buoyed me. And I heard all about her job, and how she recently got married, and how fast she usually runs… okay. Maybe this extroversion thing is a bit like an addiction. But it got me through.

2. Writing. I interview a lot of people, which means wanting to hear peoples’ stories and tell them in words on paper. It is rare that I interview a boring person. Part of this is because I find people in general very interesting. I like listening, I like calling people, I like talking to them… it’s a weird extrovert thing.

It helps the breadth of my writing. While sitting in a chair by myself for hours to get a certain number of words on a page can be a bit like eating a can of beets, I have so much experience to draw from. I have gone out to schools and spoken with children, teachers, business leaders, volunteers, crossing guards, musicians and chainsaw artists. They energize me.

I’ve heard how they speak as much as what they say. When I write, the people I’ve met inform my words. The stories are character-driven, with lots of dialogue; exactly what you might expect from an extrovert.

But if you call me and invite me to go to lunch, my characters have to wait. After all, they’re pretty patient, and who knows when I’ll get the chance to go to lunch again? Oh! Someone just emailed me about lunch on Wednesday, too! Oh, well. More fodder for my novel!

3. Networking. Networking is a kind of dirty word. When I got out of college, I wondered how something like networking worked. It seemed like a secret society, full of special handshakes and code words. But I’ve realized that a lot of networking is simply getting older and accumulating experiences.

Whether you live in the same area for years, as I have, or traveled the world as many other people have, you meet a wide range of people who have varied skills and super-cool intellectual property.

An extrovert will jump at the chance to meet a new person, to talk to them about their unique situations and life lessons. Someday, you may find that you can help someone get a job or that you know someone who knows someone. And maybe someday, I will have a book that someone wants to buy, and she will tell someone who will tell someone else.

I’ve gotta go… there are places to go and people to call. Oh–but you want to tell me about the time you fell off the tire swing? Oh, no, I’m not busy…