So, last week I shared part one of my Liebster Blog Award post, answering questions from the lovely Nichola Veitch. So this week it’s time to answer the questions posed by the exceptional Caroline at The Book Dr ~ have you checked out her Book Dr TV? I am happy to share how envious I am of her natural on screen presence.
So, just to recap what happens ~ as an award winner I answer questions asked by Nichola and Caroline, then nominate 10 bloggers I *love, love, love* for an award. Those bloggers then answer my questions and nominate 10 of their favourite bloggers and so that baton of blog lovin’ keeps on moving through the interweb, spreading the love…
The Liebster rules:
- Link back and recognise the blogger who nominated me (thank you Nichola and Caroline!).
- Answer 10 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
- Nominate 10 inspirational bloggers for the award.
- Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
- Notify your nominees
- What are you reading now?
I’m just finishing a novel by Margaret Laurence, called A Jest of God. It was written in 1966 and has been re-published by Virago Modern Classics. It’s set in a small town on the Canadian prairies, and the central character, Rachel, is in her thirties, an unmarried teacher and dominated by the coy, passive aggressive mother she lives with and cares for. But alongside this Rachel is lonely, racked with the pain of disappointment and ready to burst with her desires.
She is trying to negotiate the truth between her outside experience and her inner life and wondering how they can both be simultaneously true: ‘No. Yes. Both are true. Does one have to choose between two realities? If you think you love two men, the heart-throb column in the daily paper used to say when I was still consulting it daily, then neither one is for you. If you think you contain two realities, perhaps you contain none.’
On writing fiction, Margaret Laurence said, ‘My writing has been my own attempt to come to terms with the past. I see the process as the gradual one of freeing oneself from the stultifying aspect of the past, while at the same time beginning to see its true value.’ Here, Laurence speaks from my own writing heart.
2. Who is the author that has had the biggest impact on your life?
I wouldn’t normally like to just name one, but being forced to choose I would say Jean Rhys. Style wise, her writing is so pared down, every word is nuanced and necessary and the overall tone is one of elegance, even when the subject matter is desperate. As for content, her first four novels rework her own biography, writing as an exiled, rootless woman living in near poverty. Her fifth novel, Wide Sargasso Sea is a masterpiece which answers the question of how did Bertha Mason become the madwoman in the attic of Jane Eyre? Ford Maddox Ford said of Jean Rhys that she had ‘a terrifying insight and passion for stating the case of the underdog.’ A pioneer and a true writing hero.
3. Do you ever re-read books? What’s one that you loved just as much the second time round?
I have been known to re-read books, but it’s not something that happens so much during these busy years. There should, however, always be room for at least a five yearly re-reading of Jane Eyre ~ and not just because it neatly ties in with the previous answer! The book grows with me, Jane’s unerring inner compass and sense of self-worth become more remarkable to me as I grow older and as I understand more of what it takes to maintain this sense of self in the face of a world that seems to want to do all in its power to break you.
4. What’s your favourite afternoon snack?
Chocolate. Milk chocolate. Chocolate biscuits. I’m basically a chocolate monster. Sometimes, for vitamin purposes, I’ll have a banana followed by chocolate. See waistline for further details.
5. What is your favourite ~ pen or pencil?
Pen, please ~ black or purple ink. No blue ink, thank you. It makes me feel queasy.
6. If you could take any vacation in the next year, all expenses paid, where would you go and with whom?
Oh, P. and I would finally take our honeymoon (18 years is a charm!) and we would fly to Chicago and drive along Route 66. Growing up in the U.K., the U.S. dominates so much of our culture and I can’t help but hold a fascination for it. And when we arrive in L.A. we could take the time to hang out with The Book Dr herself. Yay!
7. What has surprised or delighted you this year?
It feels like it has been a year of change. I’m surprised at how much inner resilience I had to get through some tough behavioural problems during teaching practice, I’m delighted that I’ve been writing this new blog for seven months and at the invigoration it has given my poetry writing and my feeling of belonging in some new, creative communities. Mostly I’m surprised that I didn’t cry after J. left for university. He’s three hundred miles away, but we speak often ~ and it feels right that he is forging his new adult life and identity now. Couldn’t be prouder (of him and me ~ ha ha!)
8. If someone wanted to give you a gift that was exactly what you needed right now, what would it be?
I’d have to say a place on this writing course would be pretty darn awesome. I’d really welcome the chance to free fall headlong into my practice in the company of a like minded tribe. That’s the best gift I could think of right now.
9. What’s the best movie/ show/ documentary you’ve seen lately?
It was a televising of a 2013 Globe production of The Tempest. I’m not sure there was anything outstanding about this particular production but in watching it, the genius and poignancy of Shakespeare’s last play hit me hard. Prospero as a ship wrecked (intellectually isolated) autobiographical character putting down his sorcery (for Shakespeare, his writing) and setting free both the spirit-muse and the earthly slave that has sustained it, in exchange for a ‘normal’ life integrated with the rest of the world and enjoying a family life once more. Honestly, I’m welling up just writing about it!
10. What are you looking forward to this fall?
It’s all happening already. Trees in their last throes of autumn beauty, crunching through leaves and fallen conkers, cosy reading nights under blankets getting through the ever growing ‘to read list’ ~ even knitting season has begun again. Bed socks for all!
And now for my last five nominees:
Enjoy your new reads 🙂
And the questions for my nominees:
- What is your first memory of writing?
- What is the one book you wish you’d written?
- Is there a line of poetry that blows you away e v e r y time you read it?
- Do you pray?
- Tell me about five scents that are heavenly.
- What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you – in a library?
- What do you think is most surprising about your reading habits?
- Winter boots or summer sandals? Discuss.
- How are you planning to spend your winter evenings?
- Which song best reflects how the year is turning out for you so far?