Sunday, November 04, 2007

Another meme – this time from Kate at I’m supposed to put down five writing strengths. As a result, this is more like a note to myself, or an affirmation.

1. I try to treat characters fairly and realistically, whether they are fictitious or real.
2. I’m good at describing the region I’m from without sounding totally sentimental.
3. Like Kate, I’m not married to my sentences. I love to cut, edit, and revise. I get a kick out of putting a big X through a whole page. Revision is discovery.
4. Rejection (of the literary journal brand & otherwise) has made me a better writer. One beautiful morning, writer Verlyn Klinkenborg edited every sentence of the eight-page piece I had submitted. I had been hoping to dazzle him into inviting me to write for the New York Times. However, he informed me that I had no idea how to write a sentence. I was in an MFA program, pursuing my second English degree. But he was right. It wasn't personal, either, because he proceeded to say the same thing to all the other MFA students who got to meet with him. Klinkenborg, you pissed people off, but I love you!
5. I don’t get in a hurry about finishing a piece of writing. A lot of books I read feel rushed, as if the heady, ephemeral whiff of publication were the only thing driving the writing.

Tagged: James! Bryan! Stephanie (! Sari!



Sari said...

Oh, this should be fun. I'll write this list, then I'll start writing . . .

1. This is kind of a slanted answer (not to mention an Anne Lamottish answer), but it's also true and probably explains my procrastination: I appreciate my writing the most when I'm imagining how it could be--that glorious, perfect, non-written brilliance.

2. I care about word choices and rhythm and clarity and I think that comes out in my prose.

3. I'm sentimental. I know it's not exactly hip, but I think it's good for my writing. It softens my sarcastic edge.

4. I think I'm funny. This is a terrible thing to admit--and probably should not be done, ever! And now, I feel this pressure to actually be funny. And I've got nothing! But really, I'd say that reading P.G. Wodehouse and James Herriot had such a positive impact on my writing. And so next quarter, I get to have my students read P.G. Wodehouse and I'm excited! And if they hate him, I'll just have to beat them up.

5. I have a good ear for dialogue. Even when I was a terrible writer--and really, no false modesty, I was awful--the dialogue, at least, was believable.

Sari said...

I just realized that we have dueling strengths--my 3 vs. your 2.
What's weird is that I've always admired how you write about land--and yet I'm still completely (and unapologetically) sentimental.

Anyway, I think your list is spot on! I would add though--word choices. You have this enviable ability to find the exact right word.

Stephanie said...

Uh-oh. I'm not sure I can fulfill my tagged responsibilities at the moment. Self-affirmation in this area, least of all the public kind, is not quite where I am right now. :) Rather than make this a full-fledged post elsewhere, given that I don't think I can come up with 5 things just now, I'll just give myself at least this here: (1) Now and then, if in the right mood, I can be witty. (2) I'm terribly sentimental, I'm afraid, but sometimes that works the way I want it to--gets people emotional and thinking. (3) And when I'm in the right space, and the flow is there, like Sari I can get the words and ideas to come out with good, effective, lyrical rhythm. I can't be proud of a sentence when its flow and rhythm and the combination and order of words don't sound just right to me.