Tonight I happened to be talking to someone The Geek works with about my job as a writer. “It must be great to be able to write like that. To have that gift,” he said. I stammered a bit and didn’t quite know what to say.
Partly, because I’m two weeks out on a deadline on a book unlike anything I’ve ever written. This is my favorite part of the writing process. It’s when the book starts to really take shape and feel like a book. But it’s also the time when I’m putting in extra long writing days and it feels like the book is just kicking my butt. So at the moment I got the complement, it didn’t feel like I have a gift.
But the other reason the complement made me uncomfortable is that I generally don’t think of myself as having a gift. No, I’m not fishing for complements. I’m not being coy. I just don’t see it that way. I know a lot of truly gifted writers. People who write gorgeous poetic sentences and will make you want to weep. I’m not one those people. My friend Skylar White is like that. Omg, her writing is so beautifully lyrical, sometimes all I can do is shake my head. My friend Tracy Wolff/Tessa Adams/Tracy Deebs is like that too–oh, and she’s prolific too, if you can’t tell from the grocery list of pseudonyms. Sherry Thomas is another writer I know who’s like that. Just gorgeous prose! And she’s not even a native speaker of English.
All of these people can sentences so pretty they make you cry. Metaphors that make your heart sing. Me? Not so much. Me crafting a metaphor is a bit like those apes at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and everyone just wants it to end so we can get on with the story.
That’s what I mean when I say I’m not a gifted writer. I don’t do that pretty prose thing.
What I am, is a determined writer. I have wanted to tell stories since I was a kid. Telling stories is the thing I was meant to do. It’s woven into my brain and my blood like nothing else. My entire adult life has been about learning to tell stories well. Not so much because I wanted to be published (but, yeah, that too), but because I want to do justice to the stories and characters in my head. I want them to be as vivid and real to other people as they are to me. It’s that determination that brings me to the keyboard everyday.
Sometimes, I wish like hell that I was a gifted writer, but I’m learning to make do with my determination. Determination probably will never earn me literary accolades, but it’s won me friends and fans. And I’m damn proud of that. My journey as a writer has taken some interesting twists and turns this year, partly because I’ve stretched and grown and tried new things. Partly because I’ve wrestled with issue of writerly gifts. There’s something to be said for making peace with your limitations. For embracing them even. I hope that doing so will make shore up the bedrock of my strengths.
Are there any gifts you wish you had?