Me: Liebster! (smirk, smirk)

A small step for my blog, a giant step for my self-esteem!

Author and blogger Christina Keats has passed the Liebster Award on to me. It is a digital smack of appreciation that is passed forward online from blogger awardee to blogger nominee.

the liebster award

the liebster award

Thanks a terrabyte, Christina.

Liebster means sweetheart in German. I presume the title represents the hope that every recipient of the award keeps the chain unbroken by showing some love for fellow bloggers. Blogging is hard, lonely, and for the most part, thankless work.

A pat on the back is always welcome. I have been blogging for more than four years now; for well over a year on this blog. Time, you could say, somebody called me sweetheart.

You get the award and you pass it on to other bloggers who are waging their solitary battles. You get your back scratched and reach out to scratch mine. In turn, I reach out with all four legs.

I am required to answer some questions as part of the deal and so, I’ll stop scratching around and get down to it.

Disclaimer: I am still in a state of drowsiness over all the scratching, so if any of my answers suggest that I am not quite all there, I am not.

1. What is the first thing that comes to mind for you when you think of what defines you that might be surprising to your blogging audience?

My writing laughs a lot, or at least attempts to. I don’t, and don’t get misled by my header image. That is based on a photo from a time that seems like some previous birth.

2. What did you think of the blogging concept when you first thought of blogging for yourself?

Money. Much money. Oodles of money. Some folks who were selling a how to package sold me. They had all these photos and videos of themselves whooping it up in mansions and Lamborghinis and beaches all wrapped up in arm candy; I was klutz enough not to realize that they didn’t make money blogging, they made money selling people their package on how to make money blogging. I will never live down the shame of the subject of my first blog: how to get your ex back. I must have posted 101 shades of grey in that damn blog.

Thankfully, Google stomped all shades of my blog into the ground after a year or so, and I decided I didn’t want that ex back. I let her lie there. No headstone, no flowers.

Lots of grey, but no green. I didn’t “make bank”—a favorite expression of the folks who sold me the blogging package.

And nobody ever got an ex back because of me. One major lesson I learned from that blog was that I was not cut out to be a relationship counselor. The biggest lesson I derived from that blog and another subsequent disaster was how to blog, speaking from the technicalities viewpoint. I gained experience and the increasing surety that comes with experience.

3. Were you able to reach your personal goals in 2014 or did some (or one in particular) carry over to 2015?

Some goals remained unachieved in 2014 and have been carried over to 2015, including the primary one of publishing my first fiction work.

4. Speaking of personal, do you write solely for the public or do you have private journals of your own?

I write a bit for myself, on the sly, most of it whimsical, and some libelous material that would piss off a lot of people if I published it.

5. When you are feeling under pressure for whatever reason, what do you look to for relief?

My walks, meditation and writing. The heavier the pressure, the more inclined I am to write something humorous.

6. Now that you have been writing for a while, what is your favorite piece (personal, published, or in the works)?

I am not sure I am answering this question in quite the context in which it was asked, so forgive me, Christina.

A long time ago, in Grade XI, a humorous English Language homework essay I wrote on the subject “My favorite time of the day” received 63 from my teacher, Fr. Eugene L. Watrin, S.J. It was the highest he had ever graded an essay in twenty-eight years of teaching till then: his grading invariably stayed in the forties. He was a perfectionist and a genius who was generous with his assignments and miserly with his grading, but his methods paid off. My school’s “O” Level graduating batches invariably produced the best average grades in English Language.

My ride on the clouds was short-lived. A year later, a guy a grade below—an inconsiderate guy with no respect for seniors—scored 64 and dissipated the clouds. The crash landing hurt, but the memory lingers. It is a fond memory, among the things that keep me going, telling me I have it in me to write humor well.

7. What do you find the most enjoyable to read?

In terms of genre: thrillers, especially thrillers involving legal shenanigans, as with John Grisham; thrillers involving intelligence capers, like the books of John Le Carre (some of the earlier books of Robert Ludlum are still among my favorites); thrillers involving oddball action heroes, such as those of Stephen Hunter and Lee Child.

In terms of writing style, sparseness of verbiage, as with Ernest Hemingway and to a large extent, Stephen King.

And what I enjoy most of all: writing that is a concoction of clever language and humor, writing that brings out loopy grins. I am thinking of Mark Twain and P G Wodehouse. I am not sure any of today’s authors fit this category. I have been hearing great things about Neil Gaiman, but I regret I have not yet read him. I plan to make up for that deficiency very soon.

It is rather unfortunate, I suppose, that as an author who is constantly trying to improve himself, I read more non-fiction than fiction nowadays, and when I read non-fiction, I am less bothered about the charm of the writing style than about the value of the content.

8. Most writing today is clearly on computers…do you carry a notebook or handwrite any of your notes and ideas?

Just started, after a long spell of telling myself to. After years of almost exclusive keyboard use, I find it difficult to write continuously for more than five minutes or so. My fingers and palm start hurting. I am determined to rectify that situation. I hear that writing is more conducive to the creative process than keyboard thumping; I aim to find out for myself.

9. Blogging is different for everyone. How does it feel for you each and every time you post? Meaning, does it tend to feel like a task or is it more for personal satisfaction?

It is a task only in the sense that I tend to take a lot of time in research before and while I write, in writing, in editing my writing and in reediting my editing. I try not to make an ass of myself.

After all that, I get a big kick every time I post on my blog.

10. What would you say to someone who is a bit more removed from the electronic world and thinks that all of us “bloggers” are just wasting our time?

Lucky you for keeping yourself organic, in response to the first part of that question.

Stupid you for being judgmental, on the second.

11. Now that spring is here, what does it mean to you where you live?

What spring?

Where I live, in Chennai, spring is kind of ephemeral. Summer muscles in early and hard.

Thanks, readers. Before I wrap up this post and nominate other bloggers for the Liebster, I want to run over the Liebster Award Rules:

Acknowledge and link back to your nominator.
Answer the 11 questions the nominator asks.
Nominate other bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
Think of 11 new questions to ask your nominees. This is the challenging part.
Inform your nominees know that you have nominated them.

I pass the baton on to

Lex Allen, who declined for some valid reasons
Lita Burke, who has accepted
Kate Holdsworth, who had already accepted and passed on the Liebster
Terry Maggert, who has yet to respond as I publish this post
Jalpa Williby, who has yet to respond as I publish this post
Malka Writes, who has responded and appears willing to carry the baton.

My questions for them are:

1. What is the single damn-everything-else advantage you hope to gain by blogging?
2. If you follow other blogs, name the one blog that influences you the most.
3. Who has given you the most grief about your writing, and who has stood by you like a rock?
4. Have you ever danced in the rain, treated strangers to a round in a bar or done something else that was a spontaneous outburst of joy?
5. What is the most terrifying thing that ever happened to you?
6. Name the book you have read, and the movie you have seen, the maximum number of times.
7. What do you think is more important in a work of fiction, story line or narration style? Which of these two is your strength?
8. Here’s a scene possibly from one of your books. The police are investing your neighbor’s death, and you know of some damning evidence that could possibly nail his wife. They have been your neighbors for a few years, and you knew the husband to be an idle, mean sonofabitch who inflicted endless misery on his wife and the children she dotes on even while living off her earnings. They and the world are probably better off without him. Would you go to the cops with what you know?
9. Anything weird ever happen to you that you are absolutely unable to explain, that defies rationale?
10. What are your biggest phobia and your biggest mania?
11. If you were granted the power to bring one dead person back to life, briefly, so you could pick his or her brains and write a book, who would that be?

Nominees: If you do take up the baton and post to your blog on the Liebster, please don’t forget to give me the URL.

Me: Liebster! (smirk, smirk)

by Venkatesh Iyer time to read: 7 min
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