Liebster Award – part 2. Am I random?

Early in my blogging life I decided my posts would be around 500 words.  I haven’t stuck rigidly to that, I probably average 600. It’s been a good discipline for someone who loves playing with vocabulary: I’ve learned about brevity and shaping a story.

Last week, when taking part in the Liebster Award, I had just over 400 words of instructions to paste in. I knew I couldn’t create an introduction and 11 answers with what was left, so for my peace of mind, I decided to only count my responses.  That worked for the set-questions (750 words), but left no room for two optional rules which I thought intriguing.

  1. Write a paragraph about what makes you passionate about blogging
  2. List ten random facts about yourself

Consequently, this post takes a few liberties.

Firstly, I have to wonder, am I passionate about blogging? It depends on how we think passion manifests.  If it’s waves crashing over lovers writhing on the shore, or, as the dictionary lists the synonyms, it is vehement, fiery, heated and feverish, then the answer would have to be no.

free-png-hd-world-globe-download-png-image-globe-free-download-png-1024However, what blogging has developed into for me is not just a regular commitment to writing, it’s a place where I connect with bloggers around the world.  I like to think my horizons are continually broadening, and my weekly posts happen because I’ve made friends. I’m no longer sending words out into the ether, people read and respond.  There is an energy involved in this process that is fed by my friends, and drives me to continue writing.  In other words, this is all your fault.  Really!

10 Random facts:

  1. Never give me an inch, because I will take a mile.
  2. I use random facts to create characters.
  3. I only buy black socks.  It means not having to worry about making up pairs.
  4. There are five hats on top of my wardrobe, two of which I’ve never worn.
  5. DSCF8175I’ve been soaking the blocked black ink-jet on a printer for two weeks, and am determined that this printer is not going to be dumped.
  6. I don’t always try to tell the truth in real life, but I value honesty in fiction.
  7. Despite severe pruning last winter, my fig tree has again grown right across the kitchen window.
  8. I believe that sometimes it’s better for a glass to be half empty.
  9. I will not make a mosaic from the box of crockery shards I have been collecting while walking Rusty across ploughed fields.
  10. I have twenty-two hand-knitted jumpers.  Thanks, mum!

Ray’s just read this, and he says:

“It is difficult to pin down the origin of any thought.  So, we have to question what random might actually mean.  No matter what you do, you cannot find out where a thought originates.  You pick up something intuitively, and have to follow it.  If thoughts only originate in the world, how would we ever be able to use them to express something new?” (Taoism)

Total:  491 Words (including this).     :~)

confuscious, Lao Tsu, Buddha

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Making blog-friends with the Liebster Award

This week I’ve been tagged.  Jean Lee has challenged me to take part in the Liebster Award.  She’s answered 11 questions about her writing life with honesty and imagination, and has come up with 11 new questions for us, the 11 bloggers she’s tagged, to answer.

It seems to me that there’s more than one benefit to taking part.  First, it provides me with a ready-made subject for my weekly post.  Second, Jean’s links have provided me with new sites to visit, consequently I’ve made new connections.

It’s a long, long time since I’ve played tag, and this version has a few more rules than the play-ground variety, but at least it shouldn’t involve grazed knees. The rules are:

  1. Link to Global Aussie’s Award blog post. And put the official Liebster Award stamp on your blog.  (Done!)

blog award

  1. Acknowledge and link to the blogger who nominated you. (Thank you, Jean Lee!)
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked. (Tick)
  3. Nominate 5 – 11 more bloggers and spread the ‘new blogger’ love. (Tick)
  4. Ask them 11 fun questions of your own. (Tick)
  5. Let them know on their blogs that you have nominated them.

Optional Rules

  1. Write a paragraph about what makes you passionate about blogging
  2. List ten random facts about yourself

So, here are Jean’s 11 questions with my answers:

What would you consider to be your earliest creative work that foreshadowed the passion to come? Be it taken on a disposable camera, doodled in a school book, or tooted on a kazoo, those school-day scribbles count for something!

A cowboy story I wrote at school, when I was about nine years old.  It had three chapters and was heavily influenced by The Virginian which used to be on tv on Saturday nights.  The teacher read it out to our class, and they thought she was reading from a published book.  I cannot express what a buzz that was.

If you could gain your favorite living artist’s permission to create an homage of their work (for example, writing a fan fic story with your favorite character), who would you approach and what character would you write with?

The witch, Serafina Pekkala, in Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy.

I’m always looking for strategies to fight back the distractions. How do you focus yourself in the sea of Life’s Noise to create?

I use music.  My current favourite is Leo P at the BBC Proms, 2017, playing Moanin’ on the sax, with Christian Scott on the trumpet – though I sometimes spend too much time watching when I should be writing.leo p

What are the three most inspirational places you’ve ever visited?

  • Helen’s at Much Marcle, in Herefordshire.  It’s now a venue, but I had a tour round it at a time when it was pretty much in mothballs – Wow.
  • Liverpool city centre, at around 10.30pm one snowy February, after we’d seen a performance of Salman Rushdie’s, Haroun and the Sea of Stories.  Walking home was surreal.
  • The Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. Just sitting in the empty auditorium has me reaching for my notebook – I once saw a matinee performance of a restoration comedy which must have been on at the wrong time of year, there were only about a dozen people in the audience.  I felt like royalty.

Time for the dead artists now! If you could sit down for a cuppa or a pint with any dead artist, who would it be and why?

Aaah, does it have to be only one?

breugel-wedding-dance-in-the-open-airIn that case, I’m going to be literal, and say Pieter Brueghel, the elder (1525 – 1569).  His paintings are full of stories.  I’m presuming you’ll provide a translator, as I don’t speak Flemish.  But could I just watch him work?

What’s one stereotype people always apply to you because of who you are/where you’re from? Just for an example—I grew like a corn stalk when I was a kid, so EVERYONE assumed I was really good at sports like basketball. Guess what I suck at? ALL SPORTS. Because I live in Wisconsin, people around me just assume I’m a fellow Green Bay Packers fan. Guess what I hate watching? FOOTBALL.

Because I grew up on a farm, people expect me to write rural, and cosy. I rarely read it, and don’t write it.

If there’s one book on craft in your passion you’d recommend to every fellow artist in your field, what would it be?

Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose

Favorite grilled food? The answer should be bratwursts, but because you’re friends, I’ll try to keep an open mind.

Sorry, but the real answer is halloumi.

Okay, I’m not, I repeat, NOT, a huge Disney fan, but even I’ve got a few favorite Disney films, like Something Wicked This Way Comes. What’s your favorite Disney film? No, Pixar doesn’t count.

Pirates of the Caribbean.

And speaking of films, what’s one movie you’re kind of embarrassed to admit you like, but you just can’t help yourself? (Krull, since we’re sharing.)

Miss Congeniality.

Share your current endeavors! C’mon, you deserve a chance to plug your work.

This week I’m working on a short story, in between preparing classes for the autumn, ‘womaning’ the bookstall at the village fete, and wrestling with my weed-infested garden.

Step 3: I’m nominating five bloggers who I think might like to take part, and leaving the other six places open for anyone who thinks, ‘Why not?’  Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re tempted.

Personal and Lifestyle

Srijan

Migrant Thoughts Blog

Wallflower

Hannah Gaudette

My 11 questions are all bookish:

  1. Hard-back, paper-back or e-book?
  2. If all fiction was banned, and kindles and books were to be confiscated, and you had a special hiding place for just one traditional paper novel, which title would you keep safe for the future?
  3. What story do you wish you had never read?
  4. What was the last book you couldn’t finish reading?
  5. What book do you wish you had already read?
  6. Is there a story you wish you could write a sequel to?
  7. If you could invite four characters from four different fictions to dinner, who would you choose, and what would you feed them?
  8. Is there a novel, or a section of a novel, that you cannot forget?  If so, why?
  9. Which writer would you most like to be seated next to on a train?
  10. Is there a book that you’ve returned to, with fond memories, only to find it’s not at all the way you remembered – in either a good or bad way?
  11. If you could, would you rather be transported into a fictional world, or have fictional characters transported into your world?

There are two optional questions left, and I’d like to answer them, but this post is already much longer than I usually write, so I think I might make next week a ‘part two’.

For old times sake.

So here we are, how many years has it been? Let’s try not to look, not to think about time passing.

new year pixabay.com imageMostly that’s possible, even today, when every interaction begins, as it should with an exchange of ‘Happy New Year’ wishes.  What does that phrase imply, if not the turning of another page, the moving on in our story?

Words slip between us, signalling.  There’s a lot of space between my thoughts and my fingers flapping at the keyboard, scoring in shapes that might have slight variations between the meaning I give them and the use you make of them.  The gulf between us shrinks.  Hello, hello, how are you?  I’m so excited.  You’re reading my words, and for that I thank you.

It’s so lovely being able to meet like this, sharing these lines of connection.  As I struggle with that balance between verbose, my favourite mode of self-indulgence, and minimalism to the point of obscurity, my second favourite default, here you are, still with me.  Thank you, I’m so glad we connect.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year to you and all of your loved ones. I hope that 2018 will bring you health and happiness.

fireworks- pixabay,cin

*Images from pixabay.com

Leading Question: Why write a blog?

dscf5154There are, of course, any number of sociable benefits to having world-wide links.  The strands of the web have certainly re-drawn my idea of the globe.  So the quick answer to my question, ‘why do it?’, is another question: why not?

Perhaps that’s a bit glib, so here’s a more writerly reason for blogging: structure.  You don’t think I’m talking about shaping my writing…do you?  I could be.  Blogging has certainly taught me a lot about making my point, but no, it’s not top of my list of benefits.

The structuring that I’m talking about here is time-management.

Like so many other people intending to write, the main thing that hinders my creativity is settling to a writing schedule.  I have the best intentions, but there are so many calls on my time.  They belong on a sliding scale of importance, and in theory, writing is pretty close to the top.  Yet, I find that my own stories are the most flexible activity on my list – regularly getting shifted downwards.

Apart from a blip a year or two ago, when I fell by the wayside for a few months, the one piece of writing that bucks this trend, is my blog.  I’ve set myself a weekly deadline of Monday mornings, and mostly, I achieve that.

You’ll notice that I’ve been kind to myself, that there’s no precise time limit, though I aim for 09.20?  Some weeks I slip down that deadline and post late in the day, I can live with that. I can live with that?

I can learn from it, surely.  If I can put off tasks from that flexible list to make room for my blog, then it’s time I started doing the same for other writing.  So this week, as my teaching schedule eases off for Christmas, I’m looking at my diary and setting myself another deadline.  Five hundred words, rough as they come, by Wednesday teatime.

We should talk about this next week.

dscf4760

 

 

The value of the diarist-travel-writer.

ruth-annies-safari-2My friends Ruth and Annie went on a trip-of-a-lifetime this summer, an African safari.  Lucky them.  Now though, lucky me too, because for the past month, I’ve been vicariously sharing their experiences via Ruth’s blog, silver anniversary safari.

This is definitely my preferred way to travel: no injections, waiting around in airport lounges or hours of sitting in a metal box being hurtled across the sky.   I jump straight into the heart of another culture when I open the latest instalment.

I’ll make a sweeping assertion that conveying the excitement and wonder of a place is the general aim for any travel-writer.  The key to this particular travel-log is the narrative voice: the choice of language, and stand-point.

Now let’s just take the last thing first, and clarify what I mean by ‘stand-point’.  I’m not talking about Ruth’s proximity to the animals, although at times, that was breathtakingly close. What I mean, and I’m sure you understood this, but I’d like to be precise, is how her thinking led her to interpret what she experienced.

What comes through strongly in these pieces is personality: there is humour, as well as wonder and fascination.  The way Ruth describes the people she meets, the incidental events she chooses and the things she sees, show us our narrator as well as providing a brief insight into the culture she is experiencing.

Perhaps it’s because I’m mid-way through tutoring my Writing Family History course, that I’m also thinking about the value of Ruth’s piece of writing for the future.  It is not just entertaining, it is a record of interactions with specific environments at this point in time.  Imagine, in the future, someone tracing their family tree and discovering not just the photographs of this trip, but alongside them, the story that sets them in context.

ruth-annies-safari

*Photos taken from Ruth Boardman Anniversary Safari.

 

Ringing bells and not just whistling Dixie.

Last week I accidentally discovered how to ‘like’ comments that are left on my blog. I’m not sure how long this facility has been available, though for several months  I’ve had likes from other bloggers so for sanity’s sake, please don’t tell me.

I’d looked, in what I considered to be logical places, for a ‘like-button’.  I’m not sure my school bellbrain is wired for technological logic, because when I didn’t easily find it, I assumed that the other bloggers were subscribing to a more sophisticated version of WordPress and gave up.

I should have checked the help page, of course, or asked on some forum.  Except that takes time, and in the bigger scheme of things, does it matter if I’m not quite au fait with all the bells and whistles?

WhistlesI’ve thought about that.  I’ve been feeling uncomfortably bad-mannered over not returning greetings.  I’m glad to get responses, so I’m sure you appreciate some recognition too.

Besides I like the etiquette of blogging, that ether-level connection I have with other people posting from all sorts of exotic and local places.  It feels like a meeting of minds to connect with the words, and occasional pictures you post.  I want to get it right.

I’m like that about stories, but I give time to my reading and writing.  I study those bells and whistles, figuring out how they function, and seeing how I can apply them.

I suppose I’ve been thinking of this blog as being part of that creative process.  Not only because committing to a Monday morning post provides me with a weekly deadline, there’s also the challenge of finding my subject, then composing and editing it.  These things feel like good practice for a woman who already has too many hobbies and ambitions that are firmly fixed on wordsmithing.

Chersonesos' BellSo I’m not making any rash promises about exploring all the gizmos of the blog world.  I’ll only ask for your patience if I’m a little slow on the up-take.  Sometimes, it takes me a while to catch up with the rest ofwhistle poster the internet community.

 

 

 

 

 

Should I love what I write?

It’s one thing to go back to some story and cringe over the way you wrote, but what about the thing you’re working on now?  Are there times when you’re overpowered by insecurities?

facesI’ve deleted more than half of what I’ve typed for this blog.  Who am I to be posting it?  Hasn’t it all been said before?  And what a way to word it, do I have to be so stilted: so formal?

You know what?  I don’t, because haven’t I’ve said I can delete, or should I say edit ?  So I put together six or seven hundred words, then whittle them down to the three hundred and twenty-seven you are reading.  Since I know I’m going to edit, I can throw down every thought, no matter how daft it seems.  Which is great, because it’s when I write that I discover what I am truly trying to say.

Before you ask, no, I don’t think this is perfect, but if I could show you all the drafts…actually, I’d rather not.  If you were my only reader I’d be fine with letting you share the processes I’ve gone through.  But I’m hoping for a new reader, too, and what I want them to take away is an idea of my coherence and economy.

Do I love this piece of writing?  Well, truth be told, no.  I am quietly pleased with it, but I’m also certain that any time I reread this I’ll find ways to improve it, because that’s how I feel about all the things I’ve ever written.  At the very least I see clumsy repetitions that are too familiar to be noticeable in the heat of writing.

What I do love, is that the idea I started with grew into something that is, at this moment, complete.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get on and write something else that matters to me, despite my doubts, despite all the initial mistakes.

butterflies graffitti art