The extroverted introvert
Notes on being professionally outgoing, plus Links of the Week: Serena in twilight, love languages, and a dog-showing football coach
Before I get into the rest of today’s newsletter, a quick reminder: I’m going to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) post for paid subscribers only on Sept. 15.
I haven’t gotten a ton of questions yet, so this is a great time to ask anything you like. Everyone is welcome to ask questions, but only paid subscribers will be able to see the AMA post. I’ll be taking questions through Sept. 14. Just leave your question in the comments or reply to this post. Thanks! — TT
Around the 10-minute mark in my interview with author Casey Parks on the latest SOUTHBOUND podcast, Casey talks about hearing a talk by the brilliant journalist Jacqui Banaszynski. Somebody asked Banaszynski about the hardest part of being a journalist.
Her answer: “Getting out of the car.”
Man, did that resonate with me.
I think there’s this idea that journalists are natural hard chargers, that we’re all naturally chatty and ready to knock on doors at all hours of the day. Just speaking for me, the opposite is true. I’ve often wondered whether one of the reasons I was drawn to this work is that I’m a natural wallflower, and I needed something that would make me get out on the floor.
Some days it takes all the gumption I’ve got just to make a phone call I need to make for a story. Then, when it’s done, sometimes I need to crash for a while to get my energy back. (This is the beautiful tyranny of a tight deadline—you have to keep going to beat the bell.)
There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a professional extrovert—sales, the performing arts, politics. I suspect a lot of those people are natural introverts, too.
Years ago, a magazine gave me an award and Alix and I went to New York for the ceremony. It was at a fancy Manhattan apartment that had been stripped of furniture for the event. Alix found out later that the movers just drove around the city for a few hours while the event was going on, because that was cheaper than finding a place to park.
Anyway, there were a lot of well-known folks there, at least in the media world. It would have been a great time to chat people up, make some connections. I tried for a while, but in the end I wandered over to a room with a bunch of bookshelves and stared at the books. At one point I looked up and Tom Friedman, the columnist for the New York Times, was a few feet away, doing the same thing. We nodded to each other. Kindred spirits.
I’m hoping at least one person reading all this is an introvert who wants to try something extroverted. Not only is it possible, I’ve found it to be really good for me. It’s easier to socialize (that NYC party excepted). It’s easier to express my feelings. I’m still a natural introvert—few things make me happier than some quiet time with a book—but my life feels more rounded-out now.
And it’s a lot easier to get out of the car.
10 things I wanted to share this week:
Speaking of Casey Parks, go get her book DIARY OF A MISFIT—it’s out this week and it’s well worth your time. It’s a mystery involving the queer history of the South, a memoir about Casey and her family, and a portrait of a place that does not always love outsiders. Great stuff.
There’s been a ton of writing about Serena Williams this week, as she edges toward retirement. My favorite was this NYT piece by my friend Kurt Streeter and Elena Bergeron about what Serena means to her fans.
Another NYT sports story that’s about way more than sports: Juliet Macur’s feature on a young Afghan goalkeeper making a new life for herself half a world away.
I’m just now realizing that this week’s list has a lot of sports—it goes to show how much brilliant sportswriting there is these days. You’ll have to pay to read Holly Anderson’s kickoff piece for the college football season, but I can promise you it’s worth it, if you care about the gifts the games bring to us.
DOG NEWS: While I work on my book, I’m devoting this slot to dog stories. This week: The NFL assistant coach who moonlights as a dog-show handler.
I didn’t know until this story that the whole idea of “love languages” came from a North Carolina pastor.
One more sports thing: In the debate between old-school sportswriters and bloggers, were the old dudes right?
Robert Caro, author of the epic series of books on LBJ, talks about his methods.
That Holly Anderson piece I linked to above has a quote from Ashley McBryde’s song “Luckiest S.O.B.,” which somehow I’d never heard before. I’ve listened to it three times this morning.
See y’all next week, everybody.
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