April 21, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
When Nillu Nasser Stelter nominated me for the Liebster Award a month ago, I had only a vague idea what it was.
Yet I was only too happy to accept. Who doesn’t want to get an award, right?
Nillu was one of the first bloggers I met through the Twitter meme #MondayBlogs, set up by author and blogger Rachel Thompson. (You can read more about how and why #MondayBlogs works on Rachel’s blog here.) I enjoyed reading and commenting on her posts. I have also enjoyed her astute and attentive comments on my posts.
Some of Nillu’s posts were fiction pieces; some were memoir; some addressed the effort to find balance between her own work and family life.
In fact, during the time I’ve come to know her she has left the job she was in to pursue a freelance career, in an effort to get that balance right. That announcement was one of my favorite posts. You can also read the post in which she accepts her own Liebster Award, answers questions, and nominates others, here.
The best explanation I found for what the Liebster Award is, and its history, is on Lorraine Reguly’s Wording Well blog.
Here I learned that it is something of a cross between an award and a chain letter, and there are at least three different versions of how the rules work. In all of them, the person winning the award answers a set of questions provided by the person who last received the award, and then nominates others. But under one set of rules you nominate five bloggers with less than 3000 followers, and under another set of rules you nominate ten or eleven bloggers with less than 200 followers; the third set of rules has no specific numbers associated with it at all. Then Lorraine makes suggestions for further revising the rules.
Nillu was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to accept the award before putting my name on her blog.
Interestingly, after one of my posts, Puzzles, was selected to be promoted on Word Press, several people nominated me I had never heard of – I think because it is not always easy to find ten or eleven people with less than 200 followers to fulfill your part of the bargain. These folks I politely declined.
The fact that there are different rules and no clear origin for the award gives me a sense of flexibility in how I fulfill the requirements.
For one thing, I’ll be breaking up my response into parts. I’d like to focus on the blogs of storytellers I know, since they often are not well known by others outside their field, and they should be. This will also allow me to tell you something about these blogs, so that the list itself will serve as a resource, even if not everyone on the list has time to answer the questions. Finally, I intend to let my nominees pick from a menu of questions, and answer any or all of them, depending on their interests and their other time commitments.
Here, then, are the questions Nillu asked me, and my answers:
Describe a happy memory to us.
Playing in a mostly dry creek bed with a friend from school and discovering how ordinary stones looked like jewels when you get them wet.
Describe the setting in which you write.
In the early morning and after work I write at home, generally in a highback chair pushed up against the closet door, my laptop quite literally in my lap. I also have a parson’s table, which is quite literally a parson’s table. My grandfather wrote sermons on it. I write in coffee shops and wifi restaurants a lot. I like the energy of other people about. When the weather is nice, I like to write outside.
What is the best book you have read recently?
The last book I read – reread, really – with my mother was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. If you read my post Puzzles, you’ll know why that book now has a special place in my heart. For Christmas I gave a number of people a copy of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, because he was the best new (to me) author I discovered last year.
Which is your go to song to lift your spirits if you are feeling low?
Speaks for itself.
Which author or artist has influenced you the most?
Where the written word is concerned, I am going to say that my two memoir teachers at The Loft Literary Center, Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew and Cheri Register, have been very influential, not just because of their own writing and adept teaching, but because they introduced me to so many other fine memoir writers whose work I am still absorbing. (Rosanne Bane, whose class I wrote about in What Would Trollope Do?, was also someone I learned good writing habits from at The Loft – and I still think a lot about her work on writing resistance.) Where the spoken word and storytelling are concerned, I have had the benefit of artists who have been good friends and teachers as well. I could write a whole post about them. Heck, I think I will.
What is your favourite item of clothing?
I like to feel comfortable, and I like clothes that make me feel attractive. Any item of clothing that can do both at once is a favorite.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I have a doctorate in English with a focus on Victorian literature and it would mean a lot to me to be able to visit the homes and haunts of the authors I read in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
What would you change about the world if you had the power?
Lovingkindness meditation, which is as close as I get to prayer these days, is also as close as I get to that sort of power.
May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be well.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be free from suffering.
What are your favorite and least favourite characteristics?
I am something of a perfectionist. This can be both a quality and a liability, depending on the circumstances; fortunately I think I’ve learned when to apply the trait, and when to compensate for it.
If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
I would choose to be kind.