The main difference between extroverts and introverts is this: extroverts gain energy from crowds, from interacting with other people; introverts lose energy from crowds and need alone time on a regular basis to recharge their social “batteries.”
At least, that’s the way it is with me, which is why I kinda panicked when the folks at my local library asked me to come talk to their writers’ roundtable about e-books and e-publishing. I couldn’t say no. The folks at the library have been wonderful to me (heck, they even carry my books!). And I had taken a great workshop on e-publishing last year, an enterprise for which I received a grant. Since the public purse funded my learning, it was my duty and privilege to share what I had learned with other writers.
I spent two weeks preparing for it: reading over my notes from the workshop, talking to my e-published buddies, trying to distill an ocean of information into a 15-minute talk. I barely slept the night before. I showed up early and babbled incoherently to the organizers (who were probably doing a little panicking themselves at that point). Fifteen people showed up, which is Very Good for my little town. I could feel my batteries starting to drain.
Then it started, and honestly? I can’t remember a darned thing I said. Thank goodness I had written up notes and made copies for distributing. I hope I made sense, but some of those writers probably wondered if I was having a heart attack, my face was so red. They were unfailingly kind, and it only occurred to me later that they were writers, too, and knew exactly what I was going through.
It’s not the first time I’ve spoken in public, including giving readings, but I always react the same way. I can’t be the only one with this problem. How do others deal with it? How do some writers manage to do great readings AND talk to their fans afterward? I know some writers, like RobertSawyer, who are very comfortable in front of a large group and seem to thrive on the energy from the audience. I know other writers who need to take a few days off after a conference to recover.
What’s the difference? Am I in the minority?