Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sarah Vowell, Violet Superhero

There are at least eight excellent reasons that I think you should take the nine minutes it will take to watch this video of Sarah Vowell, who is the voice for the superhero Violet from The Incredibles.

1. Sarah Vowell is a big introvert. And a New York Times bestselling author like each of us will be. Soon.

2. Sarah Vowell is so cool you won't hardly be able to stand it.

3. Sarah Vowell is extremely funny.

4. Sarah Vowell says things like "... I'm better with dead people."

5. Like Nancy Pearl, she has her own Action Figure-- two actually, and one of them is INVISIBLE.

6. Sarah Vowell makes Abraham Lincoln seem kinda, well, you know, hot.

7. Sarah Vowell does interviews on shows like Jon Stewart and brings down the house. Simply by being herself. What a concept!

8. Could there be a better name for a superhero than Violet?

What do you think, friends? Does she make the cut for our Shrinking Violet Hall of Fame?

Originally posted February 2008--updated December 2009

Just a quick hellloooo from my temporary digs in Texas-- hope you all have survived the holiday celebrations thus far! If any of you haven't, please report in! Your Violets stand by steadfast--ready, willing, able to offer some emotional and spiritual CPR.

Onward to 2010! I resolve to be as thoroughly me as Sarah Vowell is thoroughly her-- with all her marvelous eccentricities. Can you imagine the loss to the world if she tried to vanilla out?
Lord, I shudder at the thought. Any resolutions you'd like to share?

Mary Hershey

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Survival Guide For Introverts

1. Find a quiet spot in your day, even if it is just for five minutes, and allow yourselves to just be…still, calm, centered. At least for five minutes. A true gift to yourself.

2. Tell everyone you’re going Christmas shopping, but instead indulge in an hour alone with a warm, soothing drink as your only company. No, it's not being selfish; you will have more energy and heart to deal with all your holiday demands if you take care of yourself! Trust us on this.

3. Give yourself some time this holiday—even just fifteen minutes—to do some writing or dream or make big plans for the coming year.

4. If your time is too frazzled to actually make progress on your manuscript, consider personal journaling or maybe even character journaling. Journaling your character's thoughts and feelings can be a great way to stay connected to your WIP without having to actually produce pages. In fact, one of my favorite writing exercises one year was this: Choose a character you’re currently working on and write his or her Christmas wish list.

5. Don’t forget ear plugs. They can be a lifesaver. Especially when the TV is blaring, the kids are playing too loudly, or the snow-blower is going down the street.

6. Don’t forget to plot—plot for a few hours solitude, plot for a quick escape, plot to get everyone to leave early. . .

7. Naps! Either a long luxurious two hour nap where you sleep hard enough to get bed head, or quick refreshing pick-me-up of a 20 minute cat nap, allow yourself a luxury of a nap. Special Perk: Writer + nap = work. (Or at least, that’s what I’ve managed to convince my family.)

8. A plea on behalf of all the introverted children out there in the world—for introverted children, having to get up in Santa’s lap and TALK to this perfect stranger, usually IN FRONT OF other perfect strangers can be the 6 year old equivalent of public speaking.

9. Fill your holiday well by doing the things that make your holiday feel complete and yours. Remember, this is not self-indulgence, it’s self-preservation. It’s also a way to honor the spirit of the holidays in a way that has personal significance for you. Better yet if it is something that no one else really cares for: a local production of The Nutcracker, Watching Love Actually (my favorite Christmas movie EVER), a certain collection of holiday music that makes everyone else groan when you put it on.

10. Don’t forget to recharge your batteries—and no, we don’t mean Duracell or Eveready! We really can’t state this one strongly enough. It’s something introverts have to be vigilant about during the best of time, but during the holidays, it is critical! Take the time to recharge your battery! Do not risk depleting your reserves! (Yes, that’s an order. Or maybe just a sternly worded warning: Whichever makes you most inclined to follow it.)

11. Enjoy the dead zone between Christmas and New Years, when life kind of stops—or at least slows down. It’s a fallow, fertile time when we’ve just capped the year with a celebration and have yet to start the new year with all its resolutions, plans, and intentions. It’s a time for dreaming, reflecting, of reviewing and savoring. If you haven’t had a chance to refill your well or recharge your batteries, grab some time now, while everyone is in this lulled state.

Wishing everyone a fabulous end to 2009!


And our winner from last weeks additions to the Introvert's Wish List is . . .

Feywriter! For her brilliant idea of NO carpooling!

"10: No carpooling to the family event. Allow us to follow in our own car even though others have plenty of space in the suburban. We happen to like the familiarity of our own vehicle, and the lack of conversation."

Spoken like a true introvert! Feywriter, email Miss Mary and she'll see about getting that prize out to you!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Introvert's Holiday Wish List

Dear Friends,

'Tis the season for the world to begin their conspiracy to drive the introverts completely, raving, off-our-nut mad. That there aren't more of us now living in treetops or stowed away in caves is a testament to our extraordinary ability to endure!

The holidays can exact a great price. An introvert pushed to the limits of socializing beyond their comfort zone may get ill, depressed, angry, start to overeat/undereat, appear fussy/cranky/insane/asocial, and become the topic of extended family whispering and speculating. The more you try to withdraw, the more the extraverts want to pull you in. They simply can't believe that anyone can enjoy their full complement of fa-la-la during the holidays in any sort of isolation. Unfortunately, holiday happiness seems to have a mandatory composition of bodies piled high upon the couch-- and days full of endless group herding, movies, board games, e-games, shopping, noisy meals, more shopping, decorating, baking, and talking till people's tongues have nearly dried up.

In the way that it is difficult for people to imagine Christmas without snow, the kind that we have in Santa Barbara, it is difficult for people to imagine (or allow) family or friends to have a quiet, private holiday.

Try and imagine this work conversation--
ME: "Hey, Sam, what do you have planned for your holiday?"
SAM: "All the kids are coming home--and they're bringing friends from school. Sue's family is flying in from Maine and we've rented a bunch of cots for the house, and an outoor inflatable jumper for the kids. Tomorrow we're all going to take the trolley around town and do some caroling. I can't wait! What do you got planned?"
ME: "Jill is working graveyard Xmas Eve, so I'm going to rent The Bell's of St. Mary's, pick up some lasagne from Piatti's and have a quiet evening at home. I can't wait."
PETER: "Wow, Mary, that sounds fantastic!"

Yea, right. You know what is going to happen. Coworker Sam will have an anueryism when he hears my plan, and will not be able to take another breath until I've agreed to at least come on the trolley ride, if not come for a sleep over.

As a public service, I've prepared an INTROVERT'S WISH LIST FOR THE HOLIDAYS. You can print t this out and leave it around the house, your work, or mail to your in-laws. We're linkable too, of course.

1. Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Headphones. I think they should come as standard issue with every introvert's birth. Essential holiday weapon, er, accessory.

2. Bail Out Coupons: Good for a no-questions-asked bailout from any holiday activity. Yes, more than one will be required. Sets of five sound about right.

3. Silent Night Video Store: No overhead music, no DVDs playing, no shoppers allowed to conference call family members to assist in selecting films.

4. More holiday cards, less phone calls or emails that require acknowledgments. I'm pining for more cards--I completely adore them.

5. No singing chipmunks of any kind. Even ones singing Single Ladies.

6. Gift certificates for things that we can do alone. Uh, couples massage? Gosh, think I'll pass. A non-talking facial or any spa activity is good, and book or I-tunes certificates are most appreciated.

7. World End to the Infamous Extravert Gift Exchange where every gift is up for grabs repeatedly, and it is the loudest, longest, most ruthless activity I have ever participated in. I suspect this is a favorite holiday tradition at Sing-Sing or Atica.

8. Much more singing of Silent Night and much less of Frosty the Snowman. More Bare Naked Ladies, less Burl Ives. (But, that's just me.)

9. A Stealth Cookie Exchange that takes place in the dark of the night, and no one actually comes into your home, or you into theirs. You just leave snugly wrapped, delicious cookies and fudge on porches. You get extra points if you aren't detected. (I would be so good at this!)

10. Your idea goes here!

We want to hear your number ten, eleven, twelve. What do all of you need to get through the season? Robin and I will vote on the best idea, and the winner will recieve a ::special:: holiday package from us! Leave your idea in the comment section, or email me privately right here!

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I am off in a couple of days to spend three blessed weeks in Texas with my partner's mom, and her wonderful pups, Hank and Lucy. Said partner must remain at home saving lives, which she does extremely well and shouldn't be pulled away from it. My time in Texas is always seeped in quiet, with lots of acreage for contemplation. It is a gift.

Robin and I are signing off our live broadcasts until after the new year, but we will be running some of our favorite entries from past months. Robin had some great holiday survival tips from last year that should make a reappearance, especially for our new readers. We hope you'll keep coming by during the next couple of weeks, and we'd love to hear from you.

We will be back in the flesh on Monday, January 5th. We've got some great things planned for January, including an interview with an author who you're NeVeR going to believe is an introvert. Don't miss it!

Wishing you each long stretches of silence, and deep pockets of joy--
Mary & Robin

Monday, December 7, 2009

Envisioning The Coming Year

I don’t know about you guys, but the holidays are heating up for us around here. Carols are playing, Salvation Army bells are ringing, kids are getting wound up and goofy. Yep, Christmas is just around the corner…

Mary and I would love to tell you all to just take a month off all your promotional and marketing duties, as well as shopping and cleaning and cooking and parenting and just recharge. But of course, we can’t in good conscience.

Plus your families would kill us.

What we can do, however, is share an idea for an activity that you may find spiritually and creatively uplifting, which may in turn help you recharge. An added bonus If you have kids, they can play along.

Here at SVP we try to give you lots of tools to help promote your books, get comfortable with the amount of promotion you can reasonably do, and gently stretch your goals to encompass the life you want to inhabit. A lot of this information is outward focused to meet the challenges of a promoting author. Today however, we’re going to talk about a different kind of activity—a highly inward-facing one: collages and vision boards.

Now before you roll your eyes and think you left all that back in grade school, let me gently point out that collages and vision boards are a highly effective tool in helping focus your creative energies—either in a personal direction or in a project-related one.

There are a couple of different ways to approach a vision board. You can create one that focuses on:

Personal growth aspirations for the coming year
Professional goals
Creative goals
Spiritual areas you’d like to work on.
Qualities you’d like to more fully embrace or invite into your life
Whatever whispers to you, that’s what you should use for the focus of the board.

But perhaps you’re more comfortable working on something to do with your work-in-progress, and that’s fine, too. Some story collages capture the overall mood and feel of the book.

They can also be representative of certain scenes or parts of the book, maybe even parts you're having a hard time nailing down. When you work on a collage, you let your subconscious take over and then, watch out!

You will likely find yourself drawn to elements that have no real place in your life or your story, but will instead invoke some hidden theme or motif. Embrace that.

Supplies Needed:

~ Assortment of magazines and old books
~ poster board or foam core board or even just a big thick piece of construction paper
~ glue sticks, double stick tape, scissors, stamps, anything that your imagination grabs hold of
~ A couple of free hours (probably the hardest to locate!)

But don't just take our word on the benefits of collages. No lesser authority than Carl Jung has claimed that our best work originates in play.

The dynamic principle of fantasy is play, which belongs also to the child, and as such it appears to be inconsistent with the principle of serious work. But without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. – Carl Jung

We’d LOVE to see some of the vision boards and collages you create! If you get motivated over the next few weeks (even after the holidays) please do send us a jpeg of your collage/vision board and we’ll feature them here on the blog. (We can absolutely share them anonymously!) And while sharing your project is definitely not required, we might even have a prize drawing for all of those who participate. If you'd like to share, send your jpeg to us here at Shrinking Violets, and we'll do the rest.

So open up your mind and let your imagination GO . . .