Liebster Award 2014

It’s been a while since I received one of these, so I was thrilled a couple of weeks ago to see that Jwls MacKay over at 2B Creative had sent me a Liebster Blog Award. It’s always so great to receive peer recognition, and I particularly like this award because it is meant to be given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, so as to help the gain some publicity. To participate in the award, you must answer the ten questions left to you by the person who nominated you for the award, then award ten more blogs that you think are worthy and send them ten questions of your own.

So without further ado, here are my answers to Jwls’ questions:

1. When did you begin blogging on WordPress?

My first WordPress post was written and published on February 19th, 2012, right after creating this blog. I had had several blogs, journals, websites, and the like over the years and I’d finally decided that it was time to start acting like a professional. I closed down many distractions that had been fun at the time but ultimately served me no purpose or had no future in my life, and consolidated my online presence to what I felt were the most important sites: Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and a few others that serve a purpose. Then I created this blog to bring it all together and to give myself a place to interact with the world while writing consistently and building my own personal voice. It hasn’t grown as fast as I might have hoped, but it still amazes me every day to see that people are, in fact, logging on to read my words.

2. What is your main focus on your blog?

It started as a place to talk about writing, being a writer, and the writing process. I soon established that this kind of focus isn’t really sustainable in the long term, and it is also only really interesting to other writers. I started splicing in little stories about my own life, my opinions on things, and bits and pieces of fiction that I’d written. These days I would say that my “focus” is simply maintaining an online presence while sharing my writing and my style with the world.

3. What inspires you to write?

Art of all kinds, whether it be ancient or modern, prose or poetry, adventurous or romantic. I draw inspiration from others’ books, TV shows, movies, and video games. I see what other people have done and I think to myself, “I can do that.” When something of another person’s creation gets my heart pounding, or makes me cry, or makes me think, or turns me on, or blows my mind, or gives me goosebumps…that is what inspires me to write.

4. What is your most unusual writing place?

Probably the one I’m using right now. I’m currently scribbling this post in a 3″ notepad while I sit in a trailer full of instrumentation techs (my coworkers). I’m wearing two layers of clothes underneath a pair of dirty coveralls with screwdrivers and wrenches in the pockets, and I’m leaning the notepad on my lap as I write because the table I’m sitting at is covered in work folders, paperwork, and our lunches.

5. Does music inspire your creativity?

It depends on the music. Pop music…absolutely not. But a more classical piece…yes. Music with words doesn’t really inspire me most of the time because a lot of what’s out there is just a pile of carbon copies of the same few themes: I love you, I hate you, I miss you, I wanna party, I wanna do nasty things. But with classical music you can imagine your own story emerging from the highs and lows, the beautiful melodies and the dissonant notes. I find that kind of thing very inspiring, not to mention peaceful and relaxing. 

6. Why do you follow blogs?

The simplest explanation is usually the correct one; I follow blogs because I enjoy reading them. I like hearing about what my peers have to say, what they’re worrying about today, or what achievements they’ve enjoyed recently. I also feel that “author platforms” and social media communities are a two-way street. If you want your blog posts (or status updates, or tweets, or whatever) to be read/followed/liked/commented on, then you have to take the time to do the same to others’ work.

7. What other creativity sites do you belong to? (Instagram, Instacanvas, writing.com, etc)

These days I don’t use many different creativity sites because I’m more I’m more about focusing on my blog and my fiction writing. I have an old DeviantArt account that I never bothered to close even though I never draw anymore, and I’m a member of Flickr only because it’s a treasure trove of images that I can use on the blog (if the owner has given the proper rights). As for sites that I really use, the big one is FanFiction.net. Since I love writing fan fiction, but can’t legally publish it, I love this site for sharing what I’ve written. I also have an account on the sister site, FictionPress.com, but I don’t use this as often. It’s meant for sharing original work, but since most of my original work is stuff I’d like to actually publish someday, I don’t tend to post anything there these days.

8. Do you believe the arts should be taught in school?

Not only do I believe it, but I feel that they should be given significantly more focus. I’m not saying that we should neglect important things like math and language, but I feel that artistic kids are given the shaft in today’s educational system. Creativity outside of the highly-limited art and music classes are generally frowned upon, as the system tends toward favoring wave after wave of little carbon copies who memorize and regurgitate. And I’m not just defending those kids who genuinely want to become writers, artists, or musicians…creativity is extremely important in many other fields, such as marketing, architecture, and journalism. Being able to think creatively can give kids a huge step up on an unlimited number of vocational options. Hell, being able to be a little creative and think outside the box is probably the only thing that makes me a decent instrumentation tech.

9. How old were you when you decided to develop your creativity?

Young enough to barely remember. I’d say the trigger happened sometime around the third grade. Back then was when I first started both writing and drawing. I wrote because it was fun, and it simply never stopped being fun. I drew mostly because I enjoyed the positive reinforcement I got from people when they saw me drawing. Eventually the positive reinforcement wasn’t enough for me…I wanted to actually get better, and it seemed like I never did, so drawing started to lose it’s appeal. Writing, however, has never lost any of it’s appeal to me, even during times of my life when no one was reading.

10. What is your paying occupation?

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m an Instrumentation Technician. Most people tend not to know what the hell that is, and the simplest explanation I’ve come up with is that I’m like an electrician, but I work with valves and control programs instead of motors and high voltage.

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Now, normally this would be the part where I nominate ten more blogs for a Liebster award. Unfortunately I won’t be doing this part, but I have a good reason…see, after the first ten minutes of sorting through the list of blogs that I follow it became evident to me that I’m one of the only bloggers I know who falls under the “200 or fewer followers” category. Almost every blog I follow has many hundreds, if not many thousands, of followers. I’m sure there must be a few blogs on my list that meet the criteria, but to be perfectly honest I’m not willing to spend the next few hours sorting through them. So, blogger friends, if you happen to fall under the category of having fewer than 200 followers, I officially nominate you for a Liebster. If you wish to accept and answer my questions, please leave a comment here letting me know so that I can check out your answers. 🙂

That said, for any who wish to accept my open award, please answer the following questions:

1. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
2. If you didn’t become what you wanted to become, why not?
3. What kinds of cartoons did you like as a child?
4. Be honest…are there any cartoons that you still watch now?
5. What is one skill that you really, really, really wish you had?
6. What TV show or movie could you watch over and over and over, and why?
7. If you could be any superhero in the known universe of superheroes, which one would you be?
8. What is one regret you have about your past?
9. What is one wish you have for your future?
10. If you could go back in time and tell your past self about your present self, what is something that past you wouldn’t believe about his or her future?

Hoping to see some responses!

Goodbye, Poppy…Love You Forever

This weekend, surrounded by his wife and children and some of his grandchildren, my grandfather passed away. He’d been in the hospital for a while, though I wasn’t aware until recently that it was as serious as it was. Luckily, as I recently returned home from my shift out West, I was able to visit him in the hospital before the end. He wasn’t awake, but I got to see him and talk to him, and that’s what’s important.

My grandfather had a stroke many years ago, and since then he’d been a very different man. I prefer to remember him as he was when I was younger, and with that in mind, as a form of memorial (and because I express my feelings best in writing), I’d like to share a few memories I have…

Poppy used to make my cousins and I the best root beer floats, most of the time with vanilla ice cream, but sometimes with butter ripple, which was just heavenly. I can recall more than a couple of occasions when he made us the floats after being told not to by parties who would have preferred us to have something healthy.

He also used to have “egg parties” with us, during which he would make us egg salad sandwiches with Cheese Whiz on the bread. As a child I absolutely hated eggs, so I personally think that this was just his way of forcing me to eat them, because everything tastes better when drowned in mayonnaise and Cheese Whiz.

Poppy made the best bonfires…I use the word “best” as a subjective term. Looking back, a lot of people probably would have looked at his fires and thought he was either looney or a terrible camper, but my cousins and I thought he was awesome. He would load everything imaginable into the fire, including (but not limited to) planks of wood that he snapped clean off run-down parts of the cabin, old tires, and giant piles of leaves collected by my cousins and I. The fires were an enormous monument to the gods of smoke and ash, and they were absolutely amazing.

He used to let my cousins and I ride in the back of his truck whenever possible. At first we could do it pretty much any time, but the laws must have changed at some point while I was young, because after a while we could only do it when we were on the dirt road that lead to the cabin. Regardless, this is a joy I think modern-day kids really miss out on. There was nothing quite like leaning back in the back of a truck with the wind beating the hair around your head.

When I was small and we would all go to the beach together, Poppy seemed ridiculously tough. It didn’t matter how cold the water was, he plowed right in and acted as though it was lukewarm tub water. Additionally, if any jellyfish or bloodsuckers washed up on the beach, he’d pick them up with his bare hands and toss them back in the water. Back then I thought he was incredibly brave because I could barely stand to touch a jellyfish with a stick.

Poppy always seemed to be encouraging my cousins and I to do things that everyone else would tell us not to do. He would let us sleep on the top bunk in the cabin, even though Nanny said it was too high. He seemed to get the biggest kick out of my cousin fishing snakes out of the woodpile outside, even (and probably more-so) after one of the snakes took a bite out of his finger once. He took us out to shoot a BB gun at targets in the woods even though we may have been a little too young for such a thing. I don’t know if he enjoyed defying everyone else, or if he just honestly had more faith in us than the other adults. Either way, it made him the cool one.

But if I’m honest, above all these other things, there is one memory that sticks out in my head, clear as day. It’s a simple thing, really, but for me it’s a memory to cherish. I remember being quite young, maybe six or so, being at the cabin with a ton of family, and bouncing on Poppy’s knee. I can picture him sitting on the couch, wearing jeans and a flannel shirt and a baseball cap, and there I am on his knee, laughing as he bounces me until I fall off and land on the floor in a pile of giggles. Above all else, I can picture this as clear as day, as though it happened just yesterday.

This is how I choose to remember my grandfather, as a wonderful, playful man who loved his family.

I love you, Poppy. Rest well.