Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Finding Strengths

I finally have some updates done on my web site. I've updated a lot of the information in general, updated the events calendar, and I've got some location inspiration photos for Don't Hex with Texas. I'm still missing a roll of film, so there may be more photos if I find it if I ever get around to that massive house cleaning project I keep talking about. Mind you, unlike the real-life settings in New York, Katie's home town is fictional and was just sort of inspired by a particular town that's essentially the generic Texas small-town county seat. But these are the images that were in my head when I wrote the book.

I ordered a few books from Amazon yesterday that should help me find more things to analyze when I try to slow down my process and think instead of being impatient (since slowing down just for the sake of slowing down without doing something in that extra time would be rather pointless). I also ordered my own copy of The Now Habit so I can actually read it, since the library copy had been so marked up that it was nearly impossible for me to read it beyond just gleaning a couple of tips that have been pretty helpful.

In this push for "greatness," I realized I've been pretty negative so far by focusing on weaknesses I want to correct. But I think it's equally important to look at the things that are working so I can play to my strengths and improve on those strengths. And then I realized that I'm a lot more comfortable looking at weaknesses than at strengths, and I'm definitely more comfortable publicly discussing weaknesses than strengths. I guess there's a fear of looking like you're bragging or being obnoxious when you talk about what you do well. There's some of the lingering "mean girls" effect, especially for women, where the worst thing in the world is to be "conceited," and you get labeled "conceited" for not hating yourself. Just graciously accepting a compliment instead of arguing about it or protesting means that you really think that something about you is good, and then you're considered a conceited bitch. Plus, when you list your weaknesses, if someone disagrees, then that makes you feel better because they're saying you're not as bad as you think you are. But if you list your strengths and someone disagrees, then that takes you down a peg or two.

At the risk of sounding conceited or like I'm bragging, here are some of the strengths I've identified in my writing, based on feedback I get from readers, my agent and editors.

My biggest strength seems to be character development. I'm good at creating characters people like and care about. And I even manage to do this with characters who are basically nice people, which is supposed to be incredibly dull in fiction.

I'm generally considered to be pretty funny. I may not always write outright comedy, as in the Enchanted, Inc. series, but humor seems to work its way into everything I do just because that's the way I see the world. I still haven't decided, though, if this means I really should focus on writing comedy, or if it's okay to stretch as long as I don't consciously try to get overly dramatic and leave the humor out entirely.

My agent says I'm good at writing action scenes. That came as a surprise to me, since I thought that was a weakness, but maybe the fact that I think of it as a weakness means that I worked extra hard on developing those scenes and making sure a lot was going on.

I think I'm also pretty good at coming up with high concept ideas. I've had some misses, but most of my ideas are big and quirky, and they put a fun twist on familiar themes. This is especially true while I'm playing in the fantasy pool, which is why I've decided that's where I should focus my efforts, at least for the time being.

Fortunately, I don't think I'm high-profile enough that any of the book snarking sites will pick up on this and start trying to tear me down or otherwise show that I'm not as hot as I think I am.

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