One of my student’s walked up to me the other day and asked me, “Is it true?” I squinted at him and asked, “Is what true?” “What they say about your writing,” he said waving a photocopy of Publisher’s Weekly Review of Seasoned with Grace. “They say dialogue is your strong point. Is that true?”
I really hadn’t considered that whether or not what Publisher’s Weekly said about me was true. I was just to glad that the Lord had moved on my behalf and caused them to review my book. I thought about it for a moment and I decided I didn’t agree with Publisher’s Weekly (relax, I’m not crazy). I never considered dialogue my strong suit, although I run my mouth more than enough, so I ought be good at writing dialogue.
To me my strength, my writing super power is my voice. I think that early on I was able to subconsciously develop this very
sharp and hard voice that reflected my city life. I didn’t know it until I was working on my Masters in Creative Writing. Every week my peers (mostly white) would praise me for my how well versed I was with the vernacular. For awhile it stung. I didn’t want my poems to be praised for the vernacular I wanted people to praise my poetry for its beauty. I attempted to write a beautiful poem one week for our workshop and they praised me, but they noted that this poem was different from all my other work. I confessed my feelings to them and nearly broke down crying–for once in my life I didn’t want to be this black writer with a voice that echoed the concrete. I wanted daises to be birthed on the wings of my words. I wanted to prove to them and to me that I could write like them. Once class was over and I had successfully won them over I went back to writing lyrics about the feel of asphalt under my feet. I found it took too much thought to write like someone else. It was too difficult to fill my mouth with the words of other and make them pretty.
I reclaimed my voice and went back creating pieces that reflected the beauty and ugly I found in the world using my own tongue. For me that is my Writing Super Power that’s another way I am able to be a trailblazer.
What’s your writing super power? What’s your strength? What sets your writing apart from everyone else in your genre?
If an answer doesn’t come write away maybe read a chapter or two of your most recent work and a chapter or two of someone else in your genre and look for the nuances–are you a master of setting a scene? create strong characters? write good bad guys? teach lessons subtly? Often our focus is on improving our weakness, but what would happened if we embraced and nurtured our strengths?
Don’t forget to post your strengths in the comments section. I might need your help.
Don’t forget to order a copy of Seasoned with Grace or to tell a friend or two about it. It’s coming out this summer, July 28th. Pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-a-million. Stay tuned for details on the Seasoned with Grace Launch Party and Style Session as well as the virtual party.