Are all writers introverts? I’ve wondered that many times. I, myself, am a fairly extreme introvert. You probably wouldn’t realize so upon meeting me, because I’ve learned to adapt somewhat to the greater world and its necessary interactions. But that conversation I’m having with you? It takes some effort, and I am very relieved when it is over so I can immerse myself back in my odd little thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with you. I’m simply an internal creature.
It seems logical to me (though I am quite ready to concede I’m wrong if presented with contrary evidence) that in order for a person to write well, he must delve deep within himself to an internal place that can only be perceived amidst solitude and silence. That quietude seems available only to those who don’t often look to the outer world unless forced to do so by circumstance. Because if a person continually interacts with other people, is distracted by the happenings of the external, and needs/craves that interaction and distraction, then how can he possibly settle within those internal worlds, observe and feel them intimately, and then transform them into words such that a reader will experience them the same as he?
I’ve asked myself the question many times, but it recurred to me yesterday as I was reading A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway. At the beginning of the fifth chapter, he writes:
When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.
From this passage Hemingway makes clear that he is an introvert. Despite the outsized life he’d already lived (at that point he was in his twenties) and would continue to lead in the coming decades, he was happiest when experiencing even the outer world by himself, or with a few truly congenial others. He took his external experiences, internalized them, existed with them, until they transformed into entire worlds within his being. And then he wrote about them.
Perhaps I should ask a different question. Are all real writers introverts? I don’t mean that in a snobby or exclusionary way. I’m sure that you, as I, can name many published authors, even many successful published authors, who aren’t real writers. They populate the bestsellers lists frequently. But though they may put words down on screen or paper, and though they may string those words into lengths of some meaning, they aren’t writers. Don’t know what I mean? I would hazard to guess that every real writer understands exactly what I mean.
I don’t know if the question is important. Does it need to be asked or discussed? Of what use might the answer be? I haven’t a clue, yet here I am, writing about it.