I like to write characters who are not perfect; they are usually broken in a way that is particular to their circumstances. Gary Winston (Dawn in the Orchard) has stage fright, which is his natural reaction to the stress of a bad relationship and trying to push his career in the wrong direction. Art Nichols (Games) suffers from a mild depression and ennui from years of treating his true passion, skateboarding, like business.

Me, I’m an introvert. So what interests me most is how people deal with our adaptations, whether they are physical, emotional or psychological. We are born with the hand we’re dealt, but our responses to that are unique. I’m naturally an introvert but I’m “high functioning”, if you can call it that; I’m not shy, and I handle social situations well. But they extract a huge amount of energy from me

As you can imagine, things such as parties and family reunions and, yes, conferences are incredibly stressful for me. Previously in life, before identifying myself as an introvert, I simply thought I was damaged. Why couldn’t I have fun all night like other people? Why did social events exhaust me so much? When I went out dancing at clubs, something I love, I’m fairly anti-social, and I always thought that was a failure of some kind on my part.

This conference, however, I treated it differently. I accounted for time spent around other people, and allowed myself time to retreat to the hotel room to recuperate alone. I bowed out of gatherings when I was already feeling stressed.

It was wonderful. I was 100% on it when I really needed to be, and did not come out of the whole thing feeling completely wasted and done in.

Being “broken” isn’t about having a problem; we all have problems. It’s about not dealing with that problem due to fear or ignorance.

I kind of felt like my own leading character last week in New Orleans: being honest with myself and with others for the sake of my own health and wellbeing.

It was amazing.

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