I've saved up a couple of memes that have landed on my lap, tags from the netherworld of the internet. Perfect for a rainy day in November. Today I think I'll try to tackle my Five Writing Strengths, a tag from dear Charlotte.

(By the way, we are safe at my parent's cozy house in Canada after a daunting drive yesterday. Tomorrow morning we wake up with before the sun to drive across the Rocky Mountains to my grandmother's house.)

Except that I am not sure how well I would do at writing about my strengths. I'm better at self-deprecation. I still remember the first poem of mine that was published in highschool, and how the editors wrote, "Wittily self-deprecating," or something like that.

Lightbulb! Strength is a strange thing. Sometimes weaknesses are our greatest strengths. So, without further ado, my Five Writing Strengths are:

1. A Flair for the Dramatic.  I understand the inner workings of despair, because sometimes I lose my keys, and we know that losing your keys calls for sobbing and hand-wringing. At the same time as begging people to help me find my keys on hands and knees, and muttering under my breath that I just want to die, I'm composing the way I'm going to write about losing my keys. To me, everything is a story. Unfortunately, my stories often involve villains and heroes, and I'm pretty much always the heroine in my drama, and this is a better writing skill than a life skill. But I digress.

2. Insatiable Curiosity. When I go to the grocery store, I see people and I want to know where they are going, what they are doing, and what their favorite color is, and why they are filling their carts with Little Debbies. I see places and I want to know who first settled there, how they treated the First Nations people, and their ties to slavery are. I want to know who the town was named after. I want to dig in really, really deep, get mud on my hands, find all the secrets out, read the old stories. I want to know your name and why you do the things you do. It has taken me a long time to realize that this is a great trait for a writer, rather than just an obsessive tendancy from someone who would like to be a detective but isn't.

3. A Dislike of the Trite. I am always looking for a new way to describe something that has inevitably been described ten thousand, seven hundred and twenty-two times before. I want people to read what I write and see things again for the first time. I am often trying to be like a kid, to make stacks of blocks in new patterns, rather than letting words that form familiar shapes just slip on through people's minds, not making any impression. This makes writing very exciting for me. I love to see things through writing about them.

4. Thrilled Negativity. Chinua has always liked to call me a Pessimistic Optimist, and himself an Optimistic Pessimist. In case that boggled your brain, it means that I basically believe that everything is going to turn out fine, yet I wander around saying negative things incessantly, but Chinua doesn't take it for granted that things will turn out so hot, yet he is consistently and carefully positive in his speech and actions. How does this relate to writing? I often see things through a negative lens, and I think it keeps me in touch with suffering. In writing I believe it is important to understand suffering. It makes me annoying to be around, sometimes, but if I was all positivity, I'm not sure that I could dive into sorrow with my characters. But to balance this, there is:

5. A Sense of Humour. Of course. Because how much suffering is tolerable if there are no sweet pills to swallow? And life is absurd, and life is hilarious, and when we are naked we are beautiful, but we are also lumpy and fleshy, and it's funny. I believe that we can be changed by sorrow when it is mixed with a gentle humour about our sorry state. This is where God meets me, and this is where I find my writing going. It is what I like about my writing.

And what you have just read is a wonderful justification of all of the irritating parts of my personality.  Brilliant! I know I'm a bit melodramatic and whiny, but it's because I'm artistic.