This is the first time I’ve been scared by a meme. Nova tagged me, and as she said in her introduction, it’s very easy as a writer to name your own weaknesses, but far harder to pinpoint, face up to or admit your strengths.
I think this is a great exercise. It took a little courage, but here are what I believe to be my five writing strengths:
1. I am a writer. I wanted to be a writer from as far back as I can remember, and I have earned my living as a writer since I graduated from university in 1992. I know that I can write anything, given a good brief, a cup of coffee and a deadline. However, it was only last year during a visit to the dentist (The Cool White Room of Peace), that I realised that just because I haven’t yet published My Novel that doesn’t make me not a writer. I write daily, I write constantly, it is part of my being and who I am. I get published. I have by-lines. I write anonymously. I ghost-write. I write online. I blog. I am a writer. It’s my passion. As Nova said, “there is no Plan B.”
2. I have a natural voice. Right now, I’ve finished plotting the narrative arc of my novel and I am making some decisions about voice. Having written professionally for 15 years in my own voice, it’s proving quite difficult to step out of that and use someone else’s – someone weak, someone unreliable, someone I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with. I have to find a way to inflect this character’s voice with some of the natural ease of my own, while still maintaining the jars, prickles and brittleness that will make her unique.
3. I write instinctively. This is probably allied with the point above, but I think the way I write creatively flows from a place that is not of the intellect. Writers talk about being in “the zone” and I get there easily. Words flow. It’s just a matter of allowing myself the time and space to let it happen. I got some good tips from a seasoned author recently about consciously carving out the time for my creative writing. Now I need to implement them.
4. I make good pictures. My images come with smell; they are three-dimensional and lively. I’m good at place, at evoking physicality. My characters don’t float in a dreamscape – they are strongly bound to places that trap them, that free them, that scare them.
5. I am endlessly fascinated by people. Sit me down with someone for an evening, and by the end of it I’ll know about their granny’s double mastectomy and breast reconstruction (C-cup), their brother’s predilection for bulk-shopping toilet rolls (a decade’s supply in the garage), their uncle’s fling with right-wing politics and their friend who was so charged with adrenaline when an intruder broke into her flat on the second storey of an apartment block that she picked him up and threw him out of the window. People tell me stuff. I don’t make notes (that would be rude) but I file everything away. People are far weirder, far odder and far more fascinating than fiction. And I LOVE fiction.
On that note, I’m dying to know how others might respond to this challenge. I tag:
Helen of A Was Alarmed
The Hobgoblin of Little Minds
Paul from Access all Areas
YogaMum from Yoga Gumbo
Simonne of Cliterary Fiction
Lia from the Yum Yum Cafe
Courtney of Everything In Between
Emily of Telecommuter Talk
Rae of Journey Mama
Amity of Noble Savage
Ash of Stitched in Holland
Letters Home to You
I know a lot of writers! I am so lucky. And if I left you out, please don’t be cross and please do join in.