Writing Memoir

Do you have to be anti-social to be an artist?

Ever since I moved to Siem Reap I’ve been fairly anti-social. That is to say, whenever I’ve been asked to be part of a group, an outing or even a casual meal, I’ve thought about it a great deal because: 1) I’m such a homebody, and 2) I’m working on my second memoir.

Despite what people think, I’m not an extrovert. I love to make people laugh and when I‘m in social situations I can be fun and obnoxious vivacious. So I understand why folks mistake me as someone who feeds on the energy of others. And someone who will liven the party, sooo why don’t you ever come out, Lani!

It took me a while to figure out why I put-on-a-show in public, but then gratefully retreat into a world of books and solitude. It was actually deceptively tricky to realize I needed alone-time to recharge and gain back my sanity. It took snapping at my partners and having meltdowns, let’s sayyy, during a beach holiday, to understand that I’m not a go-go-go person and private space is important.

Sometimes I even close the bedroom door just to pretend I’m alone!

When I took the Myers-Brigg personality test (I’m an INFJ) and I read how this type is EXACTLY like this, I felt some delight in knowing this was perfectly natural behavior for some of us.

I went to a writer’s conference in Bangkok with my friend JP and I remember her telling me about her writer friend who was speaking there. When they were working together in South Korea, Marisa never went out, she just told everyone she was writing, then she got published and even ended up with a healthy advance from a publishing company.

That struck with me. Not the healthy amount of money she got (okay, that, too), but how she made writing a priority. When I thought about priority, I thought about first-thing-in-the-morning or writing every day, or moving abroad so I could afford to work less and create more time for writing. I contemplated my social life in Chiang Mai and how I kept up my blog, but how my unfinished book sat almost finished, but not finished, and waiting for my dear attention.

So when I moved to Chiang Rai, I finally finished my first book – after years and years of dragging it from one end of the United States to the other, and then off to two other continents. I never considered myself a procrastinator before, but I don’t know what you call that. Laziness? Fear? Timing?

These days, I suppose it feels good to know that I made writing a priority and that my second endeavour won’t take as long to print. I guess I’ve learned my lesson and I know a new one will be waiting around the book end because there always is. Blogging took a backseat though. I suppose something had to. No regrets.

As I’m awaiting editing notes from my first round of readers, I’m enjoying being a little more social, relishing in the pause before I dive deep into notes that will probably make me doubt myself. I’ll probably start cleaning the apartment furiously to avoid the work, while I try to figure out what to keep, throw out, move and add.

How do you find the time to write?

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27 thoughts on “Do you have to be anti-social to be an artist?

  1. Congrats on your second book coming along! It seemed like just yesterday I was reading the first one. The editing stage is usually much more exciting for me compared to the first draft and second draft stage – you got something to work with, you feel like you have achieved something, and you feel good about yourself.

    I am very, very anti-social. Going to a gathering even for something like a book club or writer’s club does not appeal to me at all. Like you, I am very much a homebody and would prefer to chill at home than go out on the town in my down time – unless I need something of course.

    My first book is coming along so slowly and I have put it down to laziness. I still haven’t looked at the first draft I’ve rewritten, and the more I think about my book, the more I want to start afresh again. It is hard work writing a book especially a memoir because you’d want it to be true and true to yourself at the end of the day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think once you start writing with the intent of writing a book, you realize what a world of work you’ve gotten yourself into. And rushing it or perfectionism sets in and it’s difficult to claw your way out.

      So, I don’t feel I deserve your congratulations – yet. I feel like I have notes to pour through and I don’t want every edit to feel like a stab through the heart, you know? Good people took the time to read it and I want to weigh their thoughts with mine, carefully, and without going crazy 😛

      You know, sometimes being social comes in waves or phases, maybe you’ll go through a super social phase! You never know!

      Thanks, Mabel!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m surprised. You seem very social and good about getting your blog posts up frequently and checking out new places and making connections! But maybe that’s ‘work’ and by the time ‘play’ rolls around, you’re pooped! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the occasional dance or party, but i prefer to go out in small groups or just with one girlfriend to talk. When I work at home — alone — I don’t mind being social. But if I were a teacher like you? No way. I’d be fried and hole up at home.

    It was very, very hard to find the creative energy to write when working 60 hours a week in an office with only one demanding boss. 30 demanding kids is my idea of hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahhaa. Kids sometimes can be more reasonable and less demanding than adults 😛

      Yeah, I prefer to be in a small group or one on one, too. Those big nightclubs or parties, they’re not my thing, although I understand the appeal and I certainly feel like I’ve had enough ‘wild nights’ to have gotten it out of my system.

      You bring up a good point, creative energy is not the same as – say, energy to clean the bathroom or answer emails. I feel like there needs to be a lot of space (time, quiet or music if you prefer) for it to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. WAIT A SECOND. You’re a INFJ too??? How did I not know this? Did I know this? Anyway, it made me super happy, and it totally explains why we get along so well.

    Ahem. Back to the matter at hand. I totally get this. As an INFJ living overseas and trying to write books, it’s hard to find time to do that and balance a healthy social life. My D&D group has been my one major social outlet, and it’s perfect; a small group of dear friends who share interests. But apart from that, I don’t like sudden plans. I need time, partly because I’m working on projects at home, but partly because I’m a homebody. When I say I’m doing nothing, that’s not code for ‘I’m free to go out.’ I’m doing NOTHING. Which is something.

    As an INFJ, I think people can confuse us with extroverts on the surface, because we are such chameleons and can adapt to social situations. I also love making people laugh and I’m perfectly fine in front of a crowd. It’s just that if I do that too long I need 8 hours lying under a blanket to recover.

    How do I find time to write? I make time every day. In my downtown at work, after I shower at night…I could find more, but for me, just the act of writing everyday has been a huge achievement.

    – Audra

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This made me laugh out loud, “When I say I’m doing nothing, that’s not code for ‘I’m free to go out.’ ”

      OMG. Yes. At this point, folks have stopped asking me if I want to join them after work or go out. They know I don’t. When I went out of a going away party, a month ago, one of my colleagues looked at me, blinked and said, “Do my eyes deceive me? Is that really you?”

      Sudden plans. *nodding head in agreement* I actually have no business being a teacher with all that ‘thinking on your feet’ bit. But that somehow feels more like a challenge than a “hey, how about we do this instead?” situation. I need a few long moments to decide or sometimes I just go away to process. I can’t substitute teach for this reason, too.

      BTW, you have NO idea how jealous I am of your D&D group. Feel free to email me your character details and latest adventure. Seriously.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m an INFJ too! And I am struggling to find time to write. I stopped my blog because it was so much work to keep up with and it ended my drive to write creatively. I am just starting to get that motivation back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was wondering where you went, but then you seemed to be travelling quite a bit! 😀 Yeah, I feel like I’m getting ideas for changing it up. I feel like I’ve been an expat too long to keep writing about ‘being an expat’, you know? And yet, every once in a while is good, but one of the things that I love to read and write about is writing…I might write more posts about it.

      INJF! Let’s start a club 😛

      Like

  5. Oooh, I’m an INFJ, too! I love how there are others in this thread as well, like we have inadvertently created some sort of spontaneous INFJ meetup in your comment section, even though we don’t actually like spontaneous things that much (at least, I don’t, haha).

    I don’t know what it is, but it’s like you’re attuned to my brainwaves because I was thinking over the last couple of months just how much writing I haven’t been doing and how much I miss it. I’m not even using my writing skills professionally, which was the intent of leaving my corporate job in the first place. Sigh… anti-social AND a procrastinator… lol. As much as I LOVE working from home (really, it’s a dream come true), even as a total introvert I’m craving some sort of social interaction with other humans. I’m hoping that finding a nice shared working space to go hang out in for at least a couple of days a week will help to get me out of this rut. Both a change of scenery and to practice my slowly diminishing face-to-face social skills!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What you are describing is exactly the reason why I haven’t started working from home. I’d never go out! My partner works from home and he’s perfectly okay with not socializing and just hanging out with me. But if I did it, too? Egats.

    Even when I can suppliment my lifestyle with a writing income, I’ve told myself and others that teaching keeps me active, out-the-doors and connected, so I’d have to do it in some capacity.

    INJF … the struggle is real

    😛

    Start writing! I will read!

    Like

  7. INFJ’s unite!! *throws fist in the air like captain planet*

    people sometimes assume i’m an extrovert too , but i’m a hospitable introvert that wants to help others feel welcome, especially in gatherings where others are new or uncomfortable. i think there’s a delicate balance between wanting to be a recluse and not engage with others because it’s comfortable for us introverts, verses denying our own comfort and giving others the opportunity to get to know us if we did engage, you know? (not sure if how i worded that makes sense)

    in regards to writing … introvert or extrovert, i think it’s a matter of just prioritizing it. (which i haven’t done..)

    props to you for making progress on your 2nd book! keep writing on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also enjoy making a new person feel welcome to work, school, whatever – and I’m still friends with them as a result. The stories I could tell you!

      Yeahhhh, I need to prioritize editing TODAY. I need to get started. Whaahaaa! Get started! 😛

      Thanks! And I think I’ll have to start an INJF club. Hahahaha.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m a bit of a hermit. I work remotely, from home. I could go out during the day and work from a coffee shop or somewhere that had WiFi, but a) I find it much easier to work at home and b) Public WiFi in this country sucks. So it’s a bit of a running joke for me that I literally never leave the house during the week. Well, except to go to the gym on the 14th floor.

    I relish my alone time too. I get plenty of it. Which can get a little lonely sometimes. Not that I had a buzzing social life back in England, but I had more of a choice I think. So the alone time is when I sit down to write. If I can think of anything to write. I’m beginning to learn that perhaps I express myself better with photos than I do with words. That I need to somehow combine the two a little bit better.

    Either way, from one homebody to another *fist bump*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For better or worst, I need teaching to get me out of the house and be social. I want to entertain teaching online, but I also need the interaction of people. It’s simply too delicious to read and write – watch TV shows and eat yummy food and just live the dream, you know? Hahahhaa.

      So, I suppose it’s a good thing that I have to earn a living 😛

      14th floor. So does that mean you don’t have a 13th floor in Bahrain?

      Like

  9. Hi Lani,

    I don’t think you are anti-social. And I don’t think quiet and loving your own company is such a bad thing. I also regret saying I will attend this or that and when the day comes I just want to stay home. When we travel we like to find places to have our own quiet space which is not always easy. Noise pollution, ie… tv, most music and overhearing loud conversations annoys me. I do love listening to birds and water. Maybe I will take a bath and get a bird! *giggle*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I do realize the words ‘anti-social’ can feel quite strong, but I have felt like I’ve needed to be that way to get work done. Extreme makeover! 😛

      But like you, I love sounds of nature and quiet. Not an easy thing in SE Asia! How will I ever record my next audio book! GAH!

      Like

  10. I did the test again…and was surprised to learn I’m abit less introverted now. But still an IFNJ.
    I prefer to still work primarily in the workplace and would find working at home for my type of job, just not stimulating enough. I’m part of a work team on various projects..

    Anyway, I’m sort of a socialable hermit… I like socializing with a good friend or family member. I’m not as keen to socialize in a huge crowd. I’ve become a slightlt outspoken loner…if you know what I mean. Maybe getting older is making me care less about what others think of me. I turned 58 this yr.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think as we get older it’s important for us to socialize. There seems to be a lot of studies on longivity that stress the importance of having a community of friends, and reaching out. I’m certainly trying to be that way outside of work, but I have to admit, I really like being at home – and right now, I don’t have the home to invite folks over to.

      I like that – a socialable hermit! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This post reminded me of when I went to my first writer’s conference. I went with a friend who was a food and travel writer, but most of us there were novelists, memoirists, etc. At the end, the food writer was bouncing around trying to get people to join her at a restaurant and then a bar and to explore the downtown, but every book writer avoided her eyes and mumbled excuses. Finally, one of them said, “Honestly, I’m an introvert and spending this much time around people has got me exhausted. I have to spend some time alone to recharge before tomorrow.” We all agreed. The poor food/travel writer, the only true extravert among us, was shocked and said, “Well damn. I’m at the wrong conference.” (She has a spectacular blog with the most gorgeous photos at tastetrektravel.com.)

    I’m similar in the sense that nobody would ever guess I was an introvert, and get confused why I might dodge too many plans in lieu of staying in. I read, once, the description of something called an “ambivert” and decided that sounded more like me–getting energy from both sides, needing both.

    Sometimes, I really have to carve out time for writing not only to indulge my introvert side, but even when my extravert side wants to go out and play. There’s so little time between all my commitments. Some days I’ve got to put my foot down and tell people, “I’m committed to writing this weekend. I’ve got to get this done.” Thankfully, I have lovely people in my life that tend to understand (or at least see the mania in my eyes and decide to bow out).

    Great piece! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha – “the mania in my eyes”. Yes, just had lunch with friends and they wanted to go someplace else afterwards and I’m like, “No, I need to go home and edit my book” and there was no “Oh, but why not?” or pleads, etc. Just, yup, she’s got stuff to do. Love it. No fuss.

      Glad you liked the post! 😀 Thanks!

      Like

  12. No, I’m not surprised you’re sociable. I can be sociable but I’d rather shut myself in with my words any day – not social. I always vote for the book. Blog will always be here. Keep on!

    Liked by 1 person

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