Am liebsten

liebsterawardBlogging is an intriguing art. I do think it is an art, and of course one can practise it badly… Two dear friends, who do it magically, are Old Big Jim and Marny Copal, who have both been nominated for the Liebster Award, by Seumas Gallacher and John Dolan, respectively. Independently and at a few hours interval, Jim and Marny decided to nominate your servant, and I am deeply grateful to both of them.

Jim – a well travelled American of Scottish and Irish origin – is a pillar of strength, a talented and humorist writer and blogger, an asset to his friends and a great supporter of this community. Marny, who hails from Oregon, is a beautiful blogger and published writer who has a lot to share with learners like myself.

liebsteraward1In order to comply with the spirit of the Award, and since they are all interesting too, I will answer both Jim’s and Marny’s sets of eleven questions. But first, I have to talk about myself through eleven random “facts” – so I won’t, but, rather, talk about my “masterpiece” in waiting – LOL – the Page! Before I do I will look in amazement at the variety of badges the Liebster appear to have inspired: love you all!

11 “Facts” about the Page…

  1. It’s a long haul story, that now amounts to some 100K of chapters, unfinished stuff, notes, graffiti and pictures.
  2. It has its own site, where semi-finished products are beginning to appear (but still in editing mode).
  3. It’s being written on Scrivener, and there are already two drafts of it.
  4. I am not sure if it will ever get published, other than on that WordPress blog, and it does not worry me.
  5. The characters are, literally, writing the story, I just do the research and some editing.
  6. Since I started on this two years ago, the plot has evolved dramatically, as new influences biased the writing.
  7. Authors who inspire? In no particular order: Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Alain Fournier, Junot Diaz, Paul Auster, Thomas Pynchon, Neal Stephenson… and there are many more, in English, French and German!
  8. Do I know the end of the story? Of course not yet, and maybe there isn’t one.
  9. What does She think about it, if She has read it? She has, read the first draft, and convinced me to start again (where we are now).
  10. How much of my awake time is spent on it? Variable, probably 50% of my actual writing time, the rest being evaporated on smaller work, flash fiction and blogging on other subjects.
  11. Why? Just enjoyment, and discovery!

Jim’s questions

¶ What scares you the most, and why?

Poverty in the world, sometimes I think we won’t make it, and just regress to barbarity and self-destruction… We are hanging in by a thread.

¶ What three possessions do you think you just can’t live without?

The love of my wife, the respect of my son, my friends.

¶ When signmakers go on strike, is anything written on their signs?

“Our fight is your fight”

¶ If you could be a character in any book you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?

Tengo in 1Q84: he discovers a new world, and his lifelong love finds him…

¶ If someone wrote a book about your life, what would be the title?

Erm… “Gorgeous’ s husband, a biography”

¶ Would you prefer to spend life in prison or be executed? Why?

Death or freedom

¶ What got you in the most trouble when you were younger?

Fighting (with both fists)

¶ If you could be a religious or spiritual leader, who would it be? Why?

Ho-Chi-Minh who moved mountains

¶ What or whom do you most miss from your childhood?

My first Mistress (as school’s mistress!)

¶ Grab the book nearest you. What is the first sentence of the third paragraph on page 12?

“Whether he first puts his right or left foot forward, this too has been predetermined for each play…”

¶ When did you last write a letter on paper and send it through the postal service?

Ten minutes ago, to my aunt who’s 95.

Marny’s questions

¶ When did you first realize you liked to write?

At primary school, wanting to please my mistress…

¶ Who is your favorite villain from a book or movie?

Doctor Mabuse

¶ Can you name one item from your bucket list?

Firecracker

¶ Do you have a muse? If so, what is it?

She’s no “what”, she’s a beautiful and talented She

¶ What book excited you the most when you were a kid?

“20,000 lieues sous les mers” (Jules Vernes)

¶ Do you write in a linear fashion, or do you jump around?

I am a hobbit writer: I hop around, and back again!

¶ Do you live with animals? If so, can you read their expressions?

I enjoy philosophical musing with my pet spider

¶ Do you have a personal motto?

No, but my wife does

¶ Are you dying to know the answer to any mysteries?

I already know: it’s in my books!

¶ If you could witness any event in history, what would it be?

The resurrection

¶ Do you like dolls? If so, why?

I fear them. This is why

Geeky questions/exercises my nominees may wish to answer/do/cry about (or edit?) ~ or not!

This is deliberately tongue in cheek ~ for a more serious approach please refer to some of my previous posts… 

  1. Please read this book and then write a post on your impression (or do a drawing)
  2. Read this article, and find a picture to summarise it
  3. Would you invite this man at your Xmas party?
  4. Which one of my post(s) – here on this blog – talk about the devil?
  5. Write two sentences about this picture
  6. Any truth in this, in your view?
  7. Are you inspired by this song?
  8. Do you agree with this?
  9. Can you find “The Page” on Facebook?
  10. Write a haiku inspired by this pic
  11. Who is the skipper of the boat named Arrakis?

Well, that was a bit of work! Now about my nominees… The above notwithstanding I do love those writers bloggers:

¶ Rob Young at http://robdyoung.com/writes/

¶ Beth Ann, marathon runner

¶ Michael, who seized the storm

¶ Mon Ami, poet and erotica writer

¶ Joseph, love and dominance

¶ Gemini, loveable

¶ MarìMar, kinkiness

Beth, on the Sacred Road

Mirabella, ineffable

Heaven, sweet lust

Vincent, poet

Moon

On Gemini and an award

Seductive and addictive Gemini of http://geminisub.wordpress.com/ is a gifted sub and lovely blogger: if you have not yet visited her poetic blog Geminiwords please do without delay! Moreover Gemini was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by another delicious sub at http://thedreamingsub.wordpress.com/, and has honoured your servant by nominated him in turn! A big thank you to Gemini, in particular since this gives me the opportunity to visit some great bloggers in my co-nominees…

Some duties are attached to the award, such as posting eleven random facts about oneself, and answer eleven set questions. Then one should select eleven new nominees and post eleven new questions for them. Setting aside the question of why eleven  – may be you know reader, the origin of it! – I am more than happy to oblige with a slight variation (which I have used before), namely I’d rather post about some of my characters, who are by far much more interesting (I hope) than their creator! Anyway is there any better way to understand a writer, even one in training, than through her characters?

The questions:

1.What do you think is your greatest accomplishment so far? – Erm… possibly to have kept up with this blog which is my main training vehicle as writer!

2. What do you still want to accomplish?I have two novels in the work, and you can read some excerpts in these pages here. I want to complete them, and dependent on feedback, maybe publish them. How and when I have no idea at this point.

3. What was your favorite toy as a child? – my bike!

4. You can be a Disney villain princess hero for one day, which one and why? – Evidently Donald Duck 😛

5. What are you afraid to try of?  – I really can’t think of anything!

7.  Are you messy or a neat freak? – I am no freak, just a geek 🙂

8. What has been your favorite vacation? – Dolomiti/Dolomites/Dolomiten

9. Coffee or tea? – Most definitely coffee, but indulge in herbal tea in the evening, now you know!

10. What was the best gift you were ever given? – my fist novel by Stephen King

11. If you found out you were having a child, what would you name it?  Well, a bit tricky this, but referring the question to Gorgeous, she says: Jean-Pierre…

And now for the random facts:

  1. Given that he is my alter ego, I want first of all to mention Julian Dutoit: he’s the central character of The Page, which is a sweet story. Julian has one quality: he’s a good ten years younger than his creator! (he also has his own Facebook page!)
  2. Susan is still a half hidden secret. I mentioned her in my previous post. Susan holds a very dark secret, which, I am sure, must reflect my own inhibitions. I have said a bit more about her elsewhere in these pages.
  3. There is an entire crew, and you can read about them all here. This is a piece of work that draws from my obsessions with: a) The Pacific Ocean, b) Japan, c) Kafka on the Shore (the novel by Monsieur Murakami), d) Post-Soviet Russia… All of them hold a bit of me. Paul, the owner of the Arrakis, is married to Katrina, and what a pair!
  4. Melissa is Julian’s Nemesis, and her story is, in some distorted ways, that of the woman I never was. Melissa is dead, contrary to Susan who’s very much alive. Both are very present…
  5. Aomame is not one of my characters, but how I wish she could be! She’s the hero of 1Q84, of which more here. The more I think about her the more I admire her creator: a perfect woman, in all her imperfections, and an everlasting love, under the light of two moons: genius!
  6. Sarah is Julian’s wife and his anchor. There isn’t much space between her and… well, Gorgeous, my wife. Worship is an understatement for the feelings Julian has for her.
  7. Jane is Julian’s younger sister. There lies a deep nexus, but Jane is a good girl. So it is left to Susan to cross that border.
  8. In 1Q84 Tengo is Aomame’s love, and they meet, at last, right at the end of the novel. To me Tengo is a mystery, greater than even Kafka Tamura, the hero of Kafka on the Shore. Tengo was superbly gifted, but opted for the quiet life… Yet there is something incredibly powerful and attractive to him, and only Aomame can unravel the mystery.
  9. Piotr and Lara Nevelskoï are the skippers of the Arrakis. They represent  – arguably – a longing for a past which is now unfathomable, because history has moved on so much. They are twentieth century heroes. As obsolete as this writer in learning is!
  10. This and the following are closer to the writer: I do have a publisher, to be, and I hope she succeeds in her venture!
  11. I am a very slow writer, and cannot rush things. I need time.

Now for the “questions” – things that I hope are worth asking!

  1. Which fictional character do you wish you had created?
  2. Which historical person would you consider writing a novel about?
  3. Name a book you want to read but never had the opportunity to
  4. Name a writer you may wish to emulate
  5. Pen or keyboard?
  6. Scotch or vodka?
  7. On the Transsiberian to Vladivostock who would you wish to have as travelling companion?
  8. Sea or mountains?
  9. Glass or paper?
  10. Spring or Autumn?
  11. Water or Ice?

Tentative nominations:

Tentative because I am uncertain as who has already received this award! Of course it does not really matter, but still… All are bloggers who matter!

Guy at http://guylejeune.wordpress.com/ (brother in arms)

Mike at http://mattafoto.wordpress.com/ (fantastic shots)

Kathy at http://www.kathydisanto.com/about/ (a Pro)

Mindy at http://www.mindysue528.blogspot.co.uk/ (speaks, and writes, her mind)

Karen at http://www.thescarletdogma.com/ (a Pro, and outspoken)

Lady Day at http://rlbk75.wordpress.com/ (special to me, haiku poet and more)

Georgia at http://broadblogs.com/ (who knows about us!)

JWH at http://zombiemechanics.com/ (who knows about Zombies!)

(I haven’t counted!)

I love this badge: #Liebster Award!

 

 I blushed last night when I realised Damian had nominated me for this most challenging of award: the Liebster – love the name too. Damian “makes things up and writes them down” at The Gray Pen, which makes at least the two of us (smile), and admits “to write about the spooky things that go bump in the night”… Did he say also he was “digging the blog”? I am wondering what creepy things will come crawling out of that!

Damian received his badge from Maeve at Wings and Waters and I thank both of them, humbly. So, dear reader, I must invite you first of all to visit the blogs of those two writers – if you are not already acquainted. To fulfil my obligations as recipient I am answering Damian’s searching questions, before setting out some of my own. Incidentally WordPress says there are just under 200 followers of this blog, but I confess I do not know if those are all subscribers!

1. How long do you typically write per day?

Variable, it must be around three or four hours on average, but there days “sans”!

2. Name the books that have influenced your writing.

In no particular order: Stephen King’s “On Writing”, Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash”, Jonathan Littell’s “Les Bienveillantes”, Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow”, James Ellroy’s “The Cold Six Thousand”… And of course French writers the list of which is too long for this blog!

3. Are you a Genre writer, literary, or both?

No idea! As you do Damian, things creep out and I write them down…

4. Are you into self-publishing or traditional?

I am nowhere yet, but my dear friend Gillian (but she did change her name!) is threatening publication of my short stories “Helena“. Qui vivra verra…

5. Do you ever have problems harming your characters? Explain.

There is a BDSM streak in some of my writing so I must be “hurting” someone from time to time, but then “they” are willing. 

6. Do you like to plot or do you like to just jump into the page?

I do both, depends on the day, whether the sun shines or not, and my mood.

7. How many drafts do you write before you stop?

On my main piece of work, The Page – hahaha – I haven’t stopped editing yet. I use Scrivener and keep everything. Incidentally, this blog is very much my “lab”, where I try things out, invent new characters, and mess around!

8. What’s your proudest moment as a writer?

For me this is a difficult question: I had several moments of elation, perhaps it was when Gillian said she was considering publishing Helena. But then I write for pleasure, and there were others, such when I discovered the boat named Arrakis (still on the bench!)

9. How old were you when you began to write?

I was at primary school (year 6 UK), and was told off to do graffiti in my workbook! I never stopped.

10. In your opinion, can the craft of writing be taught?

I dunno, but Joanne has a lot to say about that.

11. Aren’t you glad I’m done asking questions?

You could have asked the ones below!

Questions of my own:

  1. Which existing fictional character would you wish to have created yourself?
  2. How important is it for you to be recognised as a writer (for example by being published in the traditional sense)?
  3. Is there a location – geographical or fictional – that you favour in your writing, both as inspiration and “best place where to write”?
  4. If you had the choice would you adopt writing as your central activity, as opposed to other bread and butter work? (please think carefully on this one!)
  5. Have you ever fallen in love with a character you created?
  6. What is the most important event of your lifetime, that is as influence on you as a writer?
  7. Has evil any place in your writing?
  8. What is your view on “Flash Fiction”, fad, useless exercise, helpful, …?
  9. If you could commission a book cover from an artist – past or present – who would that be (painter or photographer)?
  10. Do you have a favourite anthem?
  11. Is there a different question you would have wished me to ask?

My nominees (not sure about “subscribers” though!):

Joanne at http://joannegphillips.wordpress.com/

Ash at http://ashnfinn.wordpress.com/

Ciara at http://ciaraballintyne.com/index.html

Roxy at http://www.roxyfreeman.com/

Procrastinatress at http://themindssky.wordpress.com/

… And now, as Damian said, “once you’ve posted your answers, comment on this post with your post link so I can keep up with the answers!”