Malice Domestic 23 is this coming weekend…
…and as a first-timer (to any writers’ convention), I’m a bit nervous. Out come the lists and the advance preparations: what to wear, what to buy to wear, what to read ahead of time so I can talk intelligently with authors. Laptop? Business cards? (Do I put “writer” on them even though I’m not published yet?)
But the advance planning doesn’t bother me. The problem is that I’m *gulp* an introvert. Yeah, I’ll bet you already guessed that one. But I’ve heard about how terrific and community-building these conventions can be for aspiring authors, and I’ve always wanted to meet writers from my favorite genre, mystery.
I’ve also heard the stories about attendees making sparkling conversation with their favorite captive author in an elevator. Would that work for me? I don’t know…
Oh, Lord, Sue Grafton just stepped into the elevator. Say something! “Um, hi. Kind of chilly outside today, isn’t it?”
In the spirit of “know thyself,” I’ve taken a bit of Kristen Lamb’s advice (if you don’t know Kristen Lamb, the awesome social media guru whose blog and book are indispensable to writers, click here – after you finish reading my post, of course). So I took the Myers-Briggs personality test.
My results: I (Introverted – no surprise there), S (Sensing), F (Feeling), J (Judging).
Wondering how could I apply this knowledge so that I’m not silently stalking pubbed authors in elevators or washing down cheese doodles with chardonnay in my hotel room all by my lonesome, I clicked on a few details of my “ISFJ” type.
Under the “Professions” category: clergy, interior decorator, social worker, nurse. “Writer” is nowhere in evidence, but I decided not to let that bother me, since half the people who know me don’t consider what I do to be a real job, anyway.
But aside from giving last rites, or striking up a conversation about how tacky-looking the lobby is, I didn’t think looking at the professions list was much help.
How about “Famous People who are ISFJs”? That looked like it had potential, so I checked it out:
William Shatner. Jimmy Stewart. Robert E. Lee. Mother Theresa.
Only on the internet could these four people possibly have anything to do with one another, or with me, or with a murder mystery writers’ convention. And that’s assuming that Mother Theresa and Robert E. Lee were filling out Myers-Briggs surveys in their spare time.
But here’s a cheery thought: personality is not a mindless entity. Rather, it is a set of tendencies, like comfortable shoes, that we reach for when we don’t think about it. We are more than the sum of our parts, and even though I doubt I’d be a social magnet in a large group, like, ever, I can hold my own when I kick off those comfy slippers and strap on my party heels.
Any advice? Convention veterans, let’s hear from you!
Thanks for reading,
11 thoughts on “ISFJ Writer Hits the Road for the Malice Domestic Convention”
I’ve been to one conference, and I don’t think I have any practical advice except to talk to people and listen to them. Mother Theresa was probably excellent at this!
I had to laugh at your stress over whether to put “writer” on your business card. I debated over that, too. “Author”? “Writer”? I decided on writer because, yes, we are writers!
I think that listening part is key. After all, I have a lot to learn!
If you thought my angst over putting “writer” on my business cards was funny, you should have been in my head when I was deciding to put “mystery writer” on my blog title! But you’re right: “a real writer is one who really writes” to quote Marge Piercy.
Thanks, Laura, for your advice and feedback! I’ll post a follow-up next Wednesday about the convention.
My husband is an introvert (which just means that you get more energy from being with yourself than with others) and used to be exceptionally shy. He got forced into bartending (where shyness is REALLY not an option) and he learned that the old adage about the best listener being the best conversationalist is true.
I think you ISFJ’s have it made because you DON’T run your mouths all the time. That means people walk away thinking you are the most interesting people in the room because everyone loves to talk about themselves.
My advice would be to attend workshops, especially those with your favorite authors, sit next to chattery people and smile. Someone like me will get to chattering at you, asking you questions and making it impossible for you to say nothing.
You’ll ask them about their stuff, give them your card, and everyone will walk away thinking you are AMAZING (which of course you are).
Last but not least, if you pitch…try not to freak out. If you can give a basic genre and conflict, 9 out of 10 editors will ask for the first 3 chapters and synopsis. The sad part is after the conference, almost no one sends it in, thinking they need to polish or the editor is too busy. Right after the conference is the BEST time to send because they get very few conference submissions.
Sorry to be such a chatterbox….Have a GREAT time!
Great advice, Jenny! At least I don’t have to worry about pitching to an agent. I have a terrific one, and we’re waiting to hear back from a round of editor reads. I like talking about my book, but don’t want to be pushy. I suspect that we ISFJ types think we’re being more pushy than we really are; it’s hard to tell. But I can’t wait to meet these authors and hear what they have to say. This convention should help keep that energy level going for my work on book #2.
I really appreciate all your support – thanks!
I’ll tell you what it’s like when I get back. Cool that you were able to transform yourself that way. It’s interesting what Jenny said in the comments: “introverts get more energy from being with themselves than with others.” I think that’s very true, and explains why an introverted person can still socialize easily and have a lot of friends. We just go into our caves to re-charge our batteries (I know, really mixed metaphor!). Thanks, Terrell, for stopping by and commenting!
Hah! I’m also a virgin, and I’m going to my first conference on 10-12 June (WLT – Writers League of Texas)
And I have the same concerns you have. Afraid that maybe I’ll bury my face on my android and spam twitter instead of having a conversation with the people there (which is the whole point…)
In your comments, you (and I!) got some great tips. I would only add: if you don’t know how to start a conversation, start with “Hey! So, what do you write?” -> If they smile (they likely will, you would), you just won 🙂
p.s: Put writer in the business card. It is what you are.
Thanks, Natalie, for the encouragement and advice! I’m just back from Malice Domestic, and I’ll have lots to share on this week’s Wednesday post.
I can’t wait to hear all about it! Malice Domestic…sounds right up my alley!
I’ll bet it would be, Tiffany! Thanks for your support!
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