I’m an introvert. I consistently come out as an INFJ in Briggs Meyers’ tests; The Advocate. Basically this means that whilst I prefer my own company, I’m actually quite socially driven. I like to feel like a part of a community, not just to live in one but to contribute something to it. I also consistently test as a Hufflepuff, which means pretty much the same thing but is a lot more fun to say.
I thrive on working alone. I enjoy my own company, silence, and the studious nature of a lot of my work; researching, thinking, and of course writing. Ultimately, though, I am writing to be read, which means that I need to know what reaction other people have to the things that I’m creating.
One of, if not the best decisions I made when I started writing full time was to join York Writers. From the very first meeting I attended, it nourished me as a writer. It was a joy to spend a couple of hours a month in a room with other writers; people who understood what it was like, who had been where I was right now and could offer their advice. They were, and are, an incredibly generous and talented group who have been no end of help in the creation of Alfie Slider and everything else I’ve written since then.
Last night was a perfect example of why being a part of a group, even for an introvert like me, is such a great thing. You see, it’s been a bit of a milestone week for Alfie Slider because I have had my first personalised rejection letter. A personalised rejection may not sound like a good thing to someone outside the writing world, but when agents are getting hundreds to submissions a week, being one that they actually take the time to write a note to rather than copying and pasting a standard ‘thanks but no thanks’ is a big deal. The contents of the email was really encouraging, in spite of the fact this agent didn’t think Alfie was the right work for them. They praised the ideas and the writing, and said that saying no was a tough decision; and maybe more importantly they gave me some feedback as to why they’d said what they had.
Over the days since the email had arrived, I think it’s fair to say that I’d obsessed over it a bit. I’d read it, re-read it, tried to read between the lines and work out some hidden subtext. I’d imagined scenarios, and created a complete and complex narrative to explain everything. I’d paralysed myself with over-thinking; I couldn’t decide what to do, to move forward.
So last night I took the emails to the Novelist Support Group and read them to my colleagues, the same people who have heard me reading through Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter as it was created and encouraged me when my faith was flagging. They listened, they commented, and they made suggestions for how to move forward. I left the room feeling so much happier and empowered.
Today, I’ve written some of Alfie 1 for the first time in weeks. It made me happy, like it always does. I have a bit more work to do, but I’m really looking forward to cracking on and getting the MS out there again. One day soon, Alfie Slider is going to be making a lot of other people smile, too.
So yes, I’m an introvert, but I couldn’t do this alone. Thank you, colleagues. You’re amazing.