A new year, a new look & a Liebster Award

Being nominated for a Liebster Award seems as good way as any to reboot this blog. If you don’t know (and I didn’t, myself), the Liebster Award is a nice little blogger-to-blogger boost, a way for bloggers to acknowledge and promote other little-known bloggers they like. Given how little I’ve posted over the last year it’s perhaps somewhat undeserved. Nevertheless,liebster-award thanks to Lauren Foley for nominating me. Lauren is a terrific writer, and if you do nothing else you should read her magnificently-titled and just plain fantastic story, Squiggly Arse-Crack. But do make sure check out her blog.

I was also nominated a while back by Jamila (thisizapen), a very engaging – and very young – blogger who writes some great stuff about homeschooling and about simply being a 21st century kid. It was nice to discover my writing has crossed generations! Thanks, Jamila – sorry I’m only getting to it now.

It brings me back to those old chain letters from the dark ages before e-paper and e-ink. Back then, I’d write the letters mostly out of the dread of being the one to break the chain – even though not a one would ever know it was me. But this is The Internet, so the dread is real, the risk of exposure as the weak link is far too terrifying not to comply. And let that be a warning to those I nominate below. I’ll know.

As with chain letters, the Liebster Award comes with rules, but it seems there’s a lack of consensus. Here’s what Lauren sent me:

The Rules

  1.  Post the award on your blog.
  2.  Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog.
  3.  Write 5 random facts about yourself.
  4.  Nominate 5 bloggers (they should have less than 3,000 followers)
  5.  Answer 5 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 5 questions.

(Full disclosure: Jamila’s set of rules replaced all the 5s with 11s, but whether out of laziness or because this post is already long enough as it is, I’m going with Lauren’s. But, to be fair, I’ll answer five of Jamila’s questions too.)

I’ve already done the thanking and the linking (and not just because I was told to either…) so, here’s the rest:

5 Blog Nominees 

Here are five blogs worthy of your attention that I would like to nominate for the Liebster Award:

Kate Nolan, Catchingfishes https://catchingfishes.wordpress.com/

Yvonne Nicol, My Journey on the Pink Wagon http://yvienicol.blogspot.ie/

Tom Pugh, Am I Loving Now http://amilovingnow.com/

Karla Healion, The Universe is Expanding http://theuniverseisexpanding.wordpress.com/

Rose Simpson, Life in the Grey Zone http://rosalita58.wordpress.com/

5 Random Facts About Myself

  1. As of the day before yesterday, I’m the only one in my immediate family who doesn’t have kids. I’m also the only one who isn’t married, doesn’t own property, doesn’t drive and doesn’t eat meat.
  2. I have haemochromatosis (iron overload). The only treatment is getting bled regularly, and the main symptom is a tendency to hum Black Sabbath’s Iron Man quite a lot.
  3. I’ve recorded a little album of songs inspired by walking. You can listen to or download it here and virtually ‘like’ it here.
  4. I’m currently pruning a novel (which also has a lot of walking in it) of its absurdly unpublishable length.
  5. I play in a weekly ukulele collective. You’ve never heard Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer till you’ve heard it on twenty ukuleles at once.

5 Questions from Lauren

The best book you’ve ever read and why?

I don’t know how to decide if a book is definitively the best. The best I can do is give the first of the books I love that pops into my head and hope that’ll do.

The Outsider by Albert Camus has stayed with me in a deep way since I was about seventeen. What’s so great about it? It’s a short and deceptively simple read about a man without emotion, yet it still has huge emotional heft – haunting, evocative and thought-provoking. The language is basic and terse and yet communicates so much – not least a philosophy of living authentically that has influenced me ever since.

Pick an author, you’ve read all their books, rank them.

Well, the only author I can think of whose entire oeuvre I’ve read is Harper Lee. In the interests of building the suspense, I’ll rank her books in reverse order.

(Drumroll please…)

To Kill a Mockingbird.

Did I cheat? Probably.

What’s your favourite word in a language other than your 1st language?

Tsundoku: A Japanese word that means something like “to buy books but leave them pile up unread”. I am a true master of this.

A poem you think should be set to music. Which style?

I can’t decide who I would rather hear sing TS Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred PrufrockNick Cave or Tom Waits.

If you could be a painting which one would you be and why?

Even if I could be a painting, I can’t imagine why I would want to be a painting. Unless I was hung in a nice gallery like the Museo Sorolla in Madrid. Near the window.

5 questions from Jamila

Do you believe in ghosts, extra terrestrials, Nessie, fae, trolls, vampires, shape-shifters or any other supernatural creatures?

Only in stories. That goes for the big guy too. “Supernatural” to me is a synonym for “imaginary”. I don’t mean that in a pejorative way, by the way. Imagination and imaginary existence are the substance of any story. But outside of the imagination, whatever exists, exists according to the laws of nature. Whatever doesn’t exist according to the laws of nature just doesn’t exist.

Why did you start your blog?

To inflict my opinions on others, perhaps? That sounds a bit arrogant, and my tongue is somewhat in-cheek, but if I’m honest, there’s probably some truth in it. I’ve always felt the need to write about the things that inspired or moved or bothered (mostly bothered) me, but mostly those writings are buried in journals and notebooks at the bottom of drawers. Which is not much good. The process of writing can be cathartic in and of itself, but I suppose I finally realised the obvious –  words are for communicating. They need to get out into the world, they need readers.

Why this blog? I imagined (probably like most bloggers) that at least some of the things I wrote about, that I felt I had to write, might be of at least some passing interest to others. My blog idea was a bit nebulous, but at the time there was a lot of change and flux and uncertainty in my life – and also in the wider world – and I decided to focus on how I and we deal with that uncertainty and the challenges and anxieties that go with it. Exceptional and scary times provide plenty of fodder for writing, plenty to express thoughts and opinions on.

The thing is, that hasn’t changed, because what I’ve learned is that flux and uncertainty and even crisis aren’t exceptional. They’re the norm. They’re the material of living. So I reckon there’ll always be something to write about how we manage in uncertain times because the times will always be uncertain.

Probably because of my own experiences, the focus of my blog has itself changed and evolved a bit. In the beginning, I expected to be blogging about things like emigration and changing careers, but I’ve found myself instead writing about things like mental health issues, which is not at all what I intended or expected. That said, I think that nebulous starting point of expressing my thoughts on finding ways to live with uncertainty – personal, political, social, global – is still more or less there.

How long does it usually take you to write a blog post?

Usually too long. I have a tendency to ramble at length (see the last answer). Brevity is something I need to get better at. But it’s the editing and tinkering and polishing after the actual writing that really drags it out. I’ve written a lot more posts than I’ve published because by the time I got them right, they weren’t relevant any more. Something else to improve on, I suppose.

What are some items on your bucket list?

Fulfilling, stimulating work that pays enough to live on; finishing my book and finding someone who wants to publish it; travelling – particularly getting back to Spain to meet my ahijado.

What are your dreams?

To live content in a wise and kind and peaceful society.

Speaking of dreams, I’ve been learning a little about lucid dreaming lately, and had one or two very small successes in controlling my dreams, which was very satisfying. We tend to think dreams as being outside our control. But if we can learn to actively steer our sleeping dreams, surely we can manage to achieve our dreams for the real world too? It’s worth a shot at the very least.

5 Questions for my Nominees

1. What is the wisest piece of advice you’ve received and how much do you live by it?

2. Do you have a blogging/writing/creative routine and how well do you stick to it?

3. What is the one thing you realistically want to achieve in 2015?

4. What makes you smile? Really smile?

5. Why? (as in, what’s your motivation to do what you do?)

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