I’ve been tagged again! This time I can thank Susan for a writing meme that requires me to list five strengths I have as a writer. Since I’m so behind on my blogging to do list, I’m going to tackle this one right away…an and-the-last-shall-be-first sort of thing.
I am only just getting used to this odd notion that I might be considered a writer. I’ve always thought of myself as a reader – and certainly a talker – but this writer thing is new. When Matt and I started writing Baxtergarten in 2005, it was read by about 8 people and I didn’t even know enough to turn on comment moderation properly.
Still, I had been writing in my profession for years, and was (and still am) known as the therapist who wrote extremely long assessment reports and detailed therapy notes about each session. I try to explain to piqued colleagues that I do so because writing is the means by which I process and explain my work. We all do that in our own way.
Before long, I realized that the same phenomenon was taking place, but this time I was processing my own life rather than my work – and hearing my very own voice through the incredibly distracting din of parenthood and work – when I wrote on our blog.
Two years later, I am writing regularly and loving it. I have been
shocked pleasantly surprised by crazy kind people suggesting I combine some of my posts into essays for a book, and I suppose someday if I can wade through the muck here and find a common thread, I might. But writing’s never been an ambition of mine. So many of you are what I think of as “real” writers – teaching writing or working on novels; I am a therapist first and a writer second. Maybe even third or fourth, really. All this is to say that I am sincerely flattered that you all read what I have to say, and that Susan tagged me for this; so I’m going to shut up, try to think of myself as a writer, and just answer the damn question.
1. Speed. I write fast. I formulate my thoughts, compose sentences, and even type rapidly. People who have never seen me type before actually stop and stare. What can I say? I’m a little intense. My writing is certainly more polished if I spend more time on a piece, but I am able to write something that I’m comfortable posting on another site in short order.
2. I know how to construct a sentence. I didn’t understand the value of that until I read undergrad papers as a TA in grad school. Just like my son, I have been reading good literature since I taught myself to read at age 4, and I was blessed with a couple of excellent English and writing teachers in high school. Add to that four years at a good liberal arts college and I emerged able to write a decent essay.
3. My own voice. I am comfortable with putting myself out there. Believe me, I don’t write about everything in my life – after all, this blog is not anonymous and everyone from my neighbors to my grandparents read it – but what you get is honest.
4. Variety. You get a little of everything here. Or perhaps a lot about parenting and a smattering of everything else. My writing represents every facet of my life and I try to keep it interesting so that I’m not harping on the same themes again and again. I like to think of it as “juggling out loud”.
5. Humor. I hadn’t planned to add that, but Matt listed it as one of the strengths he sees in my writing and I can’t think of another #5. So, okay, when I’m not filled with angst over lack of caffeine I enjoy sharing my special brand of humor with you all. Mainly, I crack myself up and when I take one of you along for the ride with me, all the better.
Brevity is not on my list for a reason.
I tag Matt and Christopher who are rumored to be working on a novel together when they aren’t instant messaging each other at their desks all day, and Anne Glamore at My Tiny Kingdom, a thoughtful and humorous blog that makes me feel like I’m looking into life in the future with my boys.