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Coming out of the closet: the introvert writer

September 26th, 2014

Kathryn-Clark-author-photo-2014Is it enough to write?  Or do you want to have readers, too?

As an extreme introvert, the thought of putting my writing out there for other people to read was intensely frightening.  Fear of criticism and failure was part of this, but I also feared what success might bring.  Publishing writers take on a variety of roles: opinion giver; social media expert; public speaker; advertiser and sometimes publisher.  They seem an extrovert bunch, happily promoting their latest works and embracing social media.

Many writers share early drafts with someone close, but I did not.  I worried that those closest would not be able to give an honest opinion, or that they would and I wouldn’t like it.  I dreamt of being an author but I was stymied by anxiety.

Dreams are soon lost, however, and I needed to do something about it.  Slowly, quietly, I began to tiptoe in the right direction.

I discovered the joy of short story competitions.  By necessity, they are anonymous.  There are many to choose from online.  Some are free; most do not cost much.  Early on, I paid extra for feedback on my entries.  It helped me particularly with guidance on professional presentation.  Soon, I was being placed in competitions.  This was a massive confidence booster, although it did throw up a new terror for the introvert: publication of a photo and bio to go alongside the story.  I think it took longer to write a 40 word autobiography than the prize-winning tale.

Next, I started writing website content through an online agency, mainly short news articles published anonymously.  This was a positive experience.  Having someone else setting deadlines made me far more disciplined, and I developed a strong writing routine.  An unexpected bonus was that the research for this non-fiction writing generated many ideas for new fiction.  Most importantly, earning some money from writing, albeit a very small amount, made me feel that I could legitimately call myself a writer.

Having had positive responses to my work, it was time to face two more challenges: reading my writing out loud in public and engaging with social media.  I attended a workshop on writing for the social media age, led by author and poet Sarah Salway.  This was a great introduction to blogging, twitter and Facebook, and encouraged me to set up a blog.

My next step was to go to some writing workshops run by Writing Events Bath.  Initially nervous, I was put at ease by the other writers.  Some had never written a word; some had written novels.  Reading out my work was terrifying, but I was helped greatly by the gentle support of the group.

Most recently, I have ventured into twitter territory and I’m actually enjoying it.

It’s not enough for me just to write.  I do want readers.  I’ve found that it is possible to be both writer and introvert.  I hid behind anonymity at first, but I think I’m out of the closet, now.

Kathryn Clark’s short stories and flash fiction have been published by Writers’ Forum, Writing Magazine, InkTears and Flash Fiction World.  She is starting an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University in October.  You can follow her blog at www.thegreatprocrastinator.co.uk and on twitter @Kclarkwriter.  A collection of Kathryn’s short stories will be published by InkTears in spring 2015.

Author: Kathryn Clark


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