5 Writing Strengths

Both sognatrice at bleeding espresso and the individual voice tagged me for a meme to list my five writing strengths. If you know me at all, you know it would be so much easier if I had been tagged to list the top five reasons why I suck, but! But I’ve been wrestling with this for a week and here’s what I have:

1. I can spell. (Mostly.)

2. I can type. (With two fingers! No joke.)

. . . Okay, fine, I’ll be more serious.

It took me quite a few days to come up with these strengths, all while trying to be honest, to lose my usual negativity, and to not be delusional at the same time. Tough.

Anyway, these are my 5 Writing Strengths—I think:

1. Willingness to revise.
So I went out to lunch with a new coworker this week and I told her I was a writer and she said she always loved writing, but she stopped because she would get comments about how to make her stories better and she never wanted to go back in and revise. Now, if you ask me, revising is the absolute best part of the writing process. Your first draft is raw, and yes I love raw. And yes, thundering out those pages can be the best high ever. But for me nothing is better than going back to the first draft and taking another stab at it. I love carving at the sentences, smoothing, finessing, finding the heart of what I’m trying to say. It could take two revisions, three, nine. I think it’s a strength to always be willing to plunge back in.

2. Voiciness.
If I were to have a trademark in my fiction, a distinct thing that would make a piece of writing seem like mine, I figure it would have to be my all-consuming obsession with first-person voice. I love reading fiction written in first person, and—more—I love writing it. I think I’m pretty decent with voice. In fact, I get so caught up in the “voice” of the manuscripts I’m writing that my characters revolve around it, the world shifts when seen through their eyes. The voice comes alive and a revelation will be made and I’ll say, Oh! She thinks that. And then the story turns into what it was meant to be all along. What I love about first person is its honesty, even when it’s being somewhat dishonest, which is a complication I adore, and also its limited sense of reality. In real life we’re not walking around hearing everyone’s thoughts, knowing what every person in the room is thinking. At least that’s the case in my life. I generally have no idea how other people are seeing me or interpreting a situation. I’m left to float on my own. So I like to be out on my own in fiction too. And speaking of floating, when I’m writing in first person I tend to get carried away and float away on the voice. Sometimes I need to calm myself down (that’s what revision is for). Other times my very best paragraphs emerge. I’ll take that risk.

3. Versatility.
And yet, even though I have a special affection for first person, I can write in third. (Or second, though, yeah, I know people hate it.) I can move away from myself and write differently. Case in point: the freelance projects. I was putting together a writing resume for a possible new opportunity the other night and so I listed all the children’s, tween, or teen books I wrote, the ones I could remember at least. It came to thirteen. Thirteen! Some are cute—who would have thought I could be cute? Some are girly. Some are snarky. Some mimic other books that came before. Some don’t sound like me at all. I never thought I’d be able to write on assignment, as stubborn as I can be, so this has been a surprise. A good surprise. If I can write some of these things, I think it can only help to expand on my own style. I shouldn’t limit myself—to first person, or anything. I guess this proves I don’t have to.

4. Apparent humor.
Also, I never would have thought I could write funny. I am just so very serious. In grad school, I remember getting annoyed by the cheap laugh some writing could get in a workshop, even when it just wasn’t very good. Funny is easier, I told myself, it’s just unlucky that I can’t be funny. But as I write freelance, the recurring feedback I get from editors or readers is that I’m funny. I didn’t believe it at first, but it kept happening. Maybe it took me a long time to lighten up, but now that I have, I figure it can only be a good thing. What’s wrong with stopping to laugh every once in a while?

5. Blind passion.
It might be an understatement to say I am passionate about being a writer. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I’ve never wavered. It’s my dream to end all dreams, and so much is it my dream I have erased all possibility of other dreams: I gave up on a creative career in favor of a day-job existence to keep my creativity all to myself; I work full-time and still go to my writing spot every Saturday and Sunday, even if I’m stuck, as if it’s my second job; I am so single-minded I don’t have a fall-back plan; I don’t want anything else, really, just to stay with E and write. As I admit to this, it probably sounds more like a weakness than a strength. But I believe this passion only makes me a better writer. It means that, no matter how I doubt myself and rant here about wanting to give up, I won’t, not ever. I’ll be writing for the rest of my life, even if no one’s reading.

That’s my five.

So now I’ll tag some writers. Get mad at me if you want for calling you out. Ignore me if you’re so inclined. Or, maybe give it a try:

Charlotte at Charlotte’s Web

Courtney Summers

Jadepark at Writing Under a Pseudonym

Mella at The Empty Sky

Noir Bettie at Through the Looking Glass

Oslowe at Low Odysseys (or on LJ, wherever)

Weltschmerz at Burning Like Water (or on LJ, wherever)

I could tag ten more people, but I’ll try to control myself.

Now that I spent all this time being nice to myself, where’s the meme about 5 Reasons Why I Suck? Sign me up.


12 responses to “5 Writing Strengths”

  1. You are absolutely not allowed to do a meme about sucking!

    You did a fabulous job on this–and your blind passion is definitely one of the biggest reasons I keep coming back here. You’re an inspiration whether you like it or not 😉


  2. Nova, I can’t tell you how much I love this post. It’s so wonderful to hear you acknowledging your strengths – and what strengths they are! Three cheers for all of them, most especially blind passion. I relate so strongly to that it hurts and inspires to read your words.

    This is a meme I’m completely thrilled to be tagged for, but which I’m going to have to mull over for a while.


  3. OMG–the scariest meme ever. Seriously. Like you, I thought of a kazillion weaknesses before the strengths. Anywy–they’re up. 🙂

    And good for you and your strengths! let’s meld! My voice sucks. It’s one of my challenges when I write my novel–voice is the thing that keeps a reader sucked in for hundreds of pages.


  4. Awww, man – a meme that actually requires thought and insight?!

    Actually, this couldn’t have come at a better time – I can use this right now, an evalation of my strenghts (trying to avoid weaknesses for a change…)

    And as fate would have it, my husband recently aquired his copy of Halo 3, so I shall have “unlimited” time to myself for the next few weeks (or…months, most likely…)

    I’ll tackle it soon.


  5. Thanks for the tag! I rose to the challenge. It was very challenging indeed. Like you, when I was done, I kinda wanted to tackle a ‘suck’ meme.

    Re: your list. I think #’s 1 & 5 are what every writer needs. And number five is definitely NOT a weakness and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. And #2 wasn’t only a listed strength, it was a beautiful tribute to first person!! I want to print it off and tape it to my wall. Instead I’ll bookmark this entry and then direct anyone giving first person a hard time to it.


  6. I love seeing everyone else’s lists! This was one scary meme, but it was well worth it.

    (And tiv: your comment made me blush.)


  7. I’ve been reading blogs this afternoon to avoid writing a short story that was a novel. I can’t remember how I got here, and I can’t click back to tell you without failing to post this (is that a double negative?). But now I shall write my five strengths (why is it so much easier to think of 5,000 weaknesses?) and then get back to the short story. Thank you for the meme: it has prompted me – heart in mouth – to think about what it is that I do well.


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