Comfort zones – most of us have them and they can be both helpful or a real nuisance, depending on the particular circumstances. To be honest, i’ve never really established whether we’re supposed to huddle within them because they protect us, or whether we should strive to step outside them, because they hold us back. No doubt, it’s a bit of both.
Today, i’m writing outside my comfort zone. You see, fellow blogger Lizzie Gudkov, has afforded me the commendation of a ‘Liebster Award’ – something about which i had to do a fair bit of delving before i could fully appreciate it!
In brief, it’s a notional award that’s presented to bloggers, by bloggers to raise the profile of less well-known and new blogs, and to show appreciation for those responsible for them. The actual award criteria and ‘rules’ seem to be a pretty moveable feast, depending on where you look, but broadly speaking, a recipient is asked to produce a post in which they thank the person who nominated them, answer a set of questions posed by their proposer and then nominate their own choices, together with a new set of questions… and so on.
Much of which crosses the boundaries of my comfort zone. To begin with, i’m pretty shy and retiring – i’m no fan of publicity, and i tend to blink like a nervous rabbit in the headlights when the spotlight falls on me or the blog. Then there’s those questions – i don’t do memes, and i struggle with answering questions that i haven’t picked myself. As for writing to order… it’s not something i do well. Finally, i’ve written before about how dismally i fit the profile of a proper blogger, particularly when it comes to commenting, referring, reblogging and actually reading other blogs – to come up with other blogs that i’d like to put in a similar quandary isn’t going to be easy.
But, let’s give it a go anyway!
It was a huge – and very flattering – surprise when Lizzie Gudkov told me she’d passed me the Liebster baton. Lizzie is a prolific writer and blogger whom, it seems, is able to turn her hand successfully to pretty much any type of fiction – the sheer volume of her writing puts people like me to shame – 3000 words a day, by her own admission! (You’re lucky – or maybe not – to get a mere 700 from me). i particularly enjoy Lizzie’s short stories, which are thought-provoking and heartfelt – if you’ve not come across Lizzie before, you really should check out her blog, but make sure you have a good supply of tea and biscuits, because you may be there some time! And now, it’s confession time… recently, whilst doing a spot of shopping at ++HY’s++, Lizzie popped up almost next to me – but i was so starstruck and shy, i couldn’t bring myself to say ‘hello’! What am i like?
Here are the questions Lizzie’s posed for me:
1. What is your favorite place in the world (virtual and/or real)?
This is a tricky one – i’ll stick with rl, because it seems that many of the places i love in sl vanish the moment i mention them! As for the real world, there are a number of places that vie for the favourite spot: Thailand, Bali, Italy… but, if i have to choose, i’d have to say Kenya, although if you wanted me to be more specific, i’d struggle to separate Samburu, The Aberdares and Amboseli.
2. What is your favorite character trait?
3. What is your favorite book?
Again, almost impossible to answer, but good travel writing really floats my boat, anything by Paul Theroux or Will Ferguson is definitely going to be found on my bookshelf.
4. What are you reading at the moment?
Shadow of the Silk Road – Colin Thubron. Oddly compelling, but somewhat soulless and depressing, i’m afraid.
5. What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you in the last 10 years?
Erm… can i get back to you on this one?
6. Are you a cat or a dog person?
Cats every time – i don’t have any pets, but i’m too selfish to have my life revolve around dog walks and such things!
7. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Umbrellas. In my ideal world, only licensed people could use umbrellas, thus eliminating a whole host of antisocial umbrella-related acts, including – but not limited to – blocking doorways whilst opening and closing; shaking water all over the floor and nearby people when entering a room; blindly stabbing the innocent, by opening without looking; littering the street with dead brollies; dripping on passers-by; spearing eyes and – worst of all – standing in shelter with umbrellas up, thereby forcing non-umbrella holders to walk in the rain.
8. Do you have a dream you’d like to share?
i’d love to travel and take photographs.
9. Which would describe you best, a romantic idealist or a philosophical pragmatist?
Hopefully, i’m a philosophical pragmatist, but that might just be a romantic ideal.
10. What is your biggest fear?
11. Why do you like to blog?
Beats me! For some weird reason i enjoy putting myself through this torture. It’s probably just a form of catharsis for someone who finds the rest of the world a somewhat intimidating and uncontrollable place.
And now we come to the final bit: whom do i nominate and put through this torture too?
This is really hard – most of the blogs i read regularly have a huge following, so aren’t allowed; and there are a disproportionate number of blogs i subscribe to that have either become dormant or dead. Of those that are left, there are one or two that really wouldn’t appreciate being cited for any sort of award, and – now that i’ve had another look – i’ve realised half of what remains doesn’t qualify either. Dammit!
OK, best i can do – i’m sure the powers that be will be forgiving of my failure to keep to the rules…
Chris Munroe – a veritable treasure trove of stoytelling, and a genuinely funny guy too.
Jeffrey Fischer – a blogger who actually does have something to say.
Paypabak – fashion, bikes and boobs, and a sharp mind behind it all.
And, here’s my 11 questions, (and if anyone else fancies having a shot at answering them, please feel free to clog up the comments!):
1. If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?
2. What three people would you love to invite to dinner?
3. Is there any book or piece of writing that has changed how you think?
4. Sweet or savoury?
5. What does being ‘successful’ mean to you?
6. What, if anything, makes you mad?
7. How did you start writing?
8. One word to describe yourself?
9. The building is on fire, you can save one object: what is it?
10. How important is blogging to you?
11. What is the most frightening thing you’ve ever done?
That is all!
Look what they’ve done to my brain, ma
Look what they’ve done to my brain
Yeah, they picked it like a chicken bone
And they think I’m half insane, ma
Look what they’ve done to my brain
Miley Cyrus – Look What They’ve Done To My Song