1) Is the patience to revise. When I finished BLACK TUESDAY (Dutton, 2007), I thoroughly revised the book twice. In hindsight, this was not enough, but then again, I was a newbie and didn't realize that, especially as a former journalist who never had to revise (edit, yes, but rewrite? Not so much). For CASHING IN (Dutton, 2009), I thoroughly revised approximately four times. And in hindsight? The end product was better, but it could have benefited from another go-through to solidify themes, punch up romantic burgeonings, etc. This next book, I plan on revising better. To allow myself to sit and stew. To dream about the book even more. I'm not trying to go for Revision #5, just for Revision Even Better.
2) Is the imagination to create the world my characters deserve. I'm branching out into a different genre, and it has fantastical elements (but not of the pointy-teeth or dog-biscuit-breath variety). I'm having fun with world-building, but I need it to be more than a vanity project. This world needs to be worthy. It needs to have Mordor and Ewoks and Hogwarts. It needs landmarks that stick with a girl, y'know?
3) Is the self-perception to devise a much-loved character or 12. I love documentaries (and yes, Sweet Sixteen on MTV counts), and I love taking characteristics from these crippled people and putting them into my own characters. But the characteristics readers most relate to in my books are the ones that I've pulled from my own life--either experienced by me or by a friend when I was with her/him. So this reader love makes sense--3D characteristics is always better than 2D.
4) Is the stalwart heart to take my characters to the brink and not save them too fast. Or maybe at all (at least at the end of Book 1). I always want to get my characters out of sticky situations quickly. I hurt when they hurt, after all, and I feel like I've forgotten to turn off the oven Day 2 of a roadtrip if I have unresolved issues. But hurt is a good thing. Readers like hurt. I may just have to wear a rubber band about my wrist and plick myself every time I want to write a character out of a corner. Bad, Susan, bad. *Plick*
5) Is the confidence to know my voice is good enough. I read books that have done better than mine, and I want to have the same luck. I want to have their voice and be just as beloved. However, at the end of the day, voice is who you are, not who you wish you could be.