March 2009


I love my writing group. I love its members, each with their personal outlook on life (and on my writing), and our mentor, David, who brings a wealth of knowledge to each meeting. I love the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the meetings. I love the structured format, which enables even me to express my opinions, fairly confident that they’ll be accepted. I love the fact that the members are not afraid to say whatever they think about my writing, even when their views are not so favourable – something that others have been afraid to do. And, of course, I love it when they praise my work.

This group has taught me so much about writing. It has given me the confidence to say, “I am a writer.” It gives me the impetus to write regularly. I look forward to our fortnightly (bi-weekly) meetings very much and enjoy them immensely.

So, when a meeting is cancelled at the last minute, as it was this week, because some of the members are less committed than I am, I feel frustrated. I know I’ll get over it – the group is not the only thing that happens in my life – but right now I am saddened by this fact. A little less so now that I’ve written it here. Commiserations will be greatfully accepted.

Tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

 

For most of my life, people told me that I was shy. They didn’t ask if I was shy. They didn’t suggest that I might be shy. They were sure. It was obvious. And I didn’t have a way of telling them that it wasn’t true, so, outwardly, I agreed with them, even though inwardly I disagreed.

Now, finally, I know how to explain, so now I can say what I always thought.

I am not shy.

If you met me and told me I was shy, the conversation might go like this:

I’m not shy; I suffer from social anxiety.

What’s social anxiety?

Basically, it’s a fear of other people and especially of their thoughts.

Isn’t that the same as shyness?

No. Shyness is a characteristic that people are born with. Most people grow out of it at some stage in their lives; others don’t. Social anxiety appears later on, usually in adolescence. It envelopes the sufferer, masking their real personality.

So they’re two completely different animals.

No. Because most people with social anxiety have always been shy, and their social anxiety developed out of their shyness.

And you’re saying that you’re different?

Yes. I’ve never been shy. As a child, I was anything but. And if you’d met me first on the dance floor or performing on a stage in front of you, you wouldn’t have suspected me of being shy – unless you tried to talk to me.

Once, I participated in a course that included giving a short presentation. The course instructor couldn’t make me out. I’d hardly said anything during the group discussions, and yet I gave my presentation with no sign of nerves. He called me an enigma. I was an enigma to myself until I discovered the term social anxiety.

In fact, the conversation wouldn’t go like that, because I wouldn’t be able to say that. And so you would go away “knowing” that I’m shy. But I’m not. Really I’m not.

Tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

Writing and speaking are two different skills. I write. I hope you’ll agree that I write well. I speak badly.

http://writetodone.com is a great site written by a great writer (now two writers with others). It’s full of great tips by someone – Leo Babauta – who obviously has his feet on the ground and his head in the air. He knows what he’s doing and he has the imagination to carry it through.

And yet I, a less experienced writer with plenty to learn, have the cheek to disagree with him. Only about two of his sentences, though. This is the problematic section (I don’t think it’s visible on the site any more):

… a great blogwriter … is someone you want to be friends with. It’s someone interesting, someone who can tell a story and hold a great conversation and be fantastic company.

I disagree because I know better. About this one thing. I don’t claim to be a great blogwriter; I’m just starting out. But I’m sure there are some great blogwriters who suffer from similar problems to mine, making them poor conversationalists.

An exception that doesn’t disprove the rule? I’m not sure. A lot more people than you realise suffer from social anxiety.

Tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

So tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.