On 14 September, Patrick at Writing Life created a meme. (Didn't you always want to know just who it was who started these things?) The instructions were as follows:
Make a list of five strengths that you possess as a writer/artist. It's not really bragging, it's an honest assessment (forced upon you by this darn meme). Please resist the urge to enumerate your weaknesses, or even mention them in contrast to each strong point you list. Tag four other writers or artists whom you'd like to see share their strengths.
The meme, as memes do, spiralled out into blogosphere (though I notice it's mostly writers who've been tagged...). I was tagged first by Bonnie and then by Canterbury Soul. I see that most of the usual suspects have also been tagged.
So, in no particular order, here are five of what I consider to be my strengths as a writer:
A passion for playing with words
This it might be something that was born from an overexposure to Scrabble and word association games at a young age, or it might just be the fact that words offer such wonderful opportunities for play. I particularly like playing with words verbally, which may account for the utter nonsense I am known to utter on some occasions, particularly around full moon time. Which is why I've left off doing this until full moon had waxed lunar and then waned...
A vivid imagination
My mother was known to lament, "I don't know where that child dreams these things up." And, "Who is she talking to this time...? What do you mean, no one?" As an only child I never needed company - I was perfectly capable of creating my own worlds, my own friends - and I still do. Which perhaps explains my preference for working in the fantasy, supernatural, paranormal genres. And certainly goes a long way to explaining a certain alien chicken who goes by the name of Atyllah the Hen...
Determination and a sense of humour
Some might call the former stubborness. But no Taurean ever believes they are stubborn, let alone bull-headed. No, it is all about determination! See, I know how to persevere. I know what I want and what I have to do to get it. Determination is, quite frankly, a prerequisite to being a writer. You have to keep at it - particularly in today's world where publishers like Bloomsbury can receive up to 500 manuscript submissions in a week... Competition out there is stiff, you have to be willing to stick to your guns. And if failure or rejection comes along, it's important to be able to laugh about it. This latter may explain why I am currently collecting rejection slips with a view to being able to wallpaper my entire study with them. When that is done, I may be doing some creative papier-mache work...
Ability to write dialogue
My very first job, which I landed entirely by accident and without intent, was as the scriptwriter (and director and producer) of marketing and training videos for a large corporate. The stuff that been going out was mind-numbingly bland, consisting mostly of talking heads and static slides of graphs and words. This didn't strike me as an optimal use of the video format - let alone an ideal method of training young minds. I decided to get creative - and scripted vignettes pertinent to the subject matter and employed local actors - all in order to bring the very dull business of life assurance to well, er, life. Writing scripts involves lots and lots of dialogue and writing like people actually speak - as any self respecting actor will happily remind you.
Ability to observe the world around me, learn from it and translate it into stories
In Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad, Granny Weatherwax says, "People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around." To that I say "Amen, Granny!" See, stories are all around us - it really just depends on how you decide to look at those stories. I see stories wherever I go - sometimes they even chase me down the street. And let's face it, if we are honest, our entire lives consist of stories, we are our stories. So, I'm one of those deeply irritating people who watch and listen. I love public places - they are composed entirely of characters and plots and ideas - but so are the wide open spaces - the stories and the characters are just different. So be warned, the next time you see me or someone else eyeing you - it's quite possible you will end up in a story...
If they haven't already been hit by this meme, I tag, Onipar, Struggling Writer, Rob at Loose Logic, and Steve at Blog from the Darkside, any artists reading this - and YOU!