being an introvert at a writers conference

Not long ago, I sat on a hotel bed, a pillow propped in my lap, my fingers tapping on my iPad keyboard. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my brain headed toward overload. It was the first full day of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, and the evening keynote the night before already felt like days ago.

Many people liken attending a conference to drinking from a fire hose, and it’s true. Not only were there workshops, continuing classes, practicums, and meetings with editors and agents, there were over 500 people wandering campus.

I’m thankful I went. After coming home and taking time to process, it clarified for me what’s important to me, what I want to focus on. And what I don’t.

But for this introvert, being surrounded by so many people, like-minded or not, and crammed-full days took its toll. While I enjoyed the sessions and keynotes, by afternoon my people meter was full and I required at least a few moments fully alone. That’s the main reason I didn’t have a roommate and probably would forgo future conferences if I couldn’t have a room of my own.

And dare I mention the cafeteria? For some, the thought of sitting with someone new at each meal, or claiming a spot at an agent or editor table, is energizing, exciting. But not for me. Standing in line I have flashbacks of high school and college. What do I do if all the tables are full? What if I end up at a table of people who all already know each other? What if everyone ignores me, or worse, I’m bombarded with questions?

Providentially, on the first day I met a woman who happens to live only a handful of miles from my hometown. She and I are both quite introverted and bumped into each other a few times. Even if we didn’t attend the same workshops or find each other at mealtime, it was reassuring to know I wasn’t alone, that someone else there was as reserved as I was, still am, that someone else needed time alone to recharge.

Because really in the end, that’s what we all want. To know, especially when pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, that we’re not alone, that someone else feels just like we do. And I’m thankful for that.

grace for each moment, one moment at a time

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