November 8th, 2010


Question: The Good We Do

The past two months, I've been in the revising trenches.  Every other day I note some glitch or wonky writerly thing I do.  And once a week I ask, "What do I do well?"  My answer? The annoying sound of crickets. 

Last night I decided enough was enough. My internal voice (IV) and I (Self) had a chat... 

Self: Surely there is something I do well.  I mean, my stories can't be full of homonym errors and long passages of pointless dribble.

IV: Well, technically they could be...

Self: Every writer has strengths.  Don't they?

IV:  Not necessarily. I mean, look at that one writer--

Self: Yes, every writer has something they do well.  I'm a writer, therefore I have strengths.  Right?

IV: *crickets*

I flipped through the Diyari Chronicle, taking in the purple-pen scribbles and arrows.  

Self: Ah!  I'm good at writing creepy scenes with my bad guys.  I guess all those hours hanging out with inmates and five year olds has paid off.

IV: I miss those inmates.  I remember the one guy said, "Thugs need love too."  Ah, you can't make up stuff like that.

Self:  Focus!  *snaps fingers*  Look at this.  I'm good at ending chapters with a bit of a cliffhanger.

IV: Yeh, you do alright with that.  Dan Brown does better, but you can hold your own.  You make me want to go to the next chapter.

Self:  Okay. Let's see, what else?  Oh!  I'm good at pacing.  Sure sometimes I get things scrambled. But the overall story trajectory moves forward, smooth and steady...tension rising.

IV: *buffs fingernails on shirt* Yeah, I kept reading it. You let me rest after tension, but not too much.  You know I don't like too much down time.

Self: How could I forget with you yapping in my ear all the time?  Geez!  I can't hear my own thoughts.

IV:  I am your thoughts.

Self:  Yes, that's unfortunate.  Anywhoooo...every now and again I'm good at showing, not telling.  I mean the passage I posted on my Friday Five showed Azer's anxiety.  I really liked that paragraph.

IV: Yep, it was creepy. Kinda Stephen King, red rum'ish, but not. 

Self: Uh. Okay.  Whatever.  *swipes sweat from brow*  This is good. I'm not a complete loser.

IV: No, not a complete loser, but--

Self: Don't even.  This is about what I'm good at.  I think I spend enough time lamenting the bad.  I should be allowed to celebrate the good.  Seeing the good prevents discouragement. And I get to see that I am growing as a writer.

IV: Are we going to have to roast marshmallows and sing that stupid camp song?  Because I'm really not in the mood for that tonight.  

Self:  Why do I keep you around?

IV: I make you laugh. *smiles*

Self: *crickets*

IV: Are you saying I'm not funny?

Self:  Okay, flisters, what writerly skills do you ROCK, NAIL, OWN?  If I can think of some positives, I know you can.  Let's hear it. 

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