You know those dark days where you feel kind of “lost in the woods” creatively, and then something nice happens? That’s how I felt when Tom nominated me, along with a few (handfuls) of other bloggers, for the “Mystery” Blogger award! Thank you Tom!
The ENIGMA blogging award, pseudonymed “Mystery” as playful reference to the last name of its originator, Okoto Enigma, and now on this day literally re-named for its originator (by me :)), is said to be “an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with love and passion.”
Well thank you, and gladly accepted!
They say that “flattery will get you nowhere” but that’s not the case for you when it comes to me. Flattery will get you everywhere (though where it will get me, I’m not yet sure). So thank you Tom Burton, and the originator Okoto Enigma, and every other participant in this lovely sharing opportunity. Tom’s award-winning post in itself was inspiring due to the way he’d answered the questions asked of him by fellow award-winner “Uzma,” of ashellinmaking.com. The questions were good, and his answers were generous, fun and honest. Here you can have a read for yourself.
Tom listed me under his ‘Fabulous Five’ fiction writers, saying: “These talented bloggers are exceptional storytellers, creating vivid short stories that leave the reader eager for more! Their characters leap off the page through rich authentic dialogue, well-crafted emotional struggles and immersive world-building that pulls you along for a thrilling ride.” Wow. I am so amazed and humbled by this praise, and am now quite seriously considering going full-on into fiction writing! Thank you, Tom! :)) ❤
Besides Okoto and Uzma and Tom I would like to thank the Universe, my husband and kids, as well as my parents, without whom none of this would be possible. ;)) Oh yes, and the blogging “academy” — which is all of us reading or writing here on WordPress, self-appointed of course.
Finally, and at risk of being hooked off the stage at any moment, I owe thanks for this happy instance not only to Tom, but also to Matthew, who is likely the reason that Tom (and perhaps some others) came to find my blog. Matthew is someone who means a lot to me in the WordPress blogging world because he appeared “out of nowhere” (as many of us bloggers tend to do for another, here on WordPress) to encourage some of my stranger-than-fiction bits-and-pieces in the very beginning of my time on this platform. He’s a fellow blogger I’ve come to look up to and admire not only because of his own talent with words, but because of his kind supportiveness to others besides me, and his steadfast reliability and professional work ethic, when it comes to blogging for sure, and I can only assume for his other life pursuits as well which include being a dedicated husband, father and PhD candidate. Also he uses his real and full name! So we will have to design an additional award for him — perhaps the “Real Person” blogger award. ;)) Thank you, Matthew!
TOM’S 5 QUESTIONS (and my answers):
Tom posed five questions to all of the bloggers he recommended (including me and Matthew). Here they are, along with my own answers to them.
1. What makes you happiest about your blog? I feel happiest that I actually created it, wrote some things and hit publish. It may sound simple enough, but I used to be terrified of doing this very thing. I was stuck in analysis paralysis. “Business blog or personal blog? Business name or personal name? If business, which business? If personal, real name or pen name? And either way, what’s my niche?” I studied and studied and spiralled in circles. I’m what I call a “recovering perfectionist,” and I still find it hard to get out there and “fail,” nearly every single day. Finally I had to start somewhere, sort of “in the middle of nowhere,” actually (I half-joke that I live in France’s “zone of emptiness,” and then go from there.
My intention when it came to writing became to “fail better” (in Samuel Beckett’s words — though it’s been noted that the context is darker than many understand), since this was the only way I felt I could proceed. Some days I look back on my published writing and think, “kid, ya done good”! (Those are the days when I only use my past self as a model for comparison.) Other days (when I read my posts through an imagined critic’s eyes, or through the imagined eyes of one of my favourite authors) it all looks like crap, and I just want to start over. Bottom line: I feel happy that I managed to persist in the face of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). And that was mostly thanks to support from you, dear reader(s), fellow blogger(s) and creator(s). So thanks again.
2. What motivates you to continue blogging? What motivates me to continue blogging is the sense of connection it has given me to other writers. I did used to comment on, promote and support the work of, other writers, even before I was publishing my own writing. But the feeling of being “in the arena” (as I once heard Brené Brown call it), is very different. We are all in this together and it feels very cosy and communal to share words and ideas like this. It’s the main reason I continue, in spite of fear and self-doubt.
3. Favourite blogging/writing advice? I have read and heard so much good advice that I fear I will miss someone/something if I try to share it here…. Best just to stick to one: my husband’s advice. It was from a book he gave me that I haven’t finished reading yet. (Shhh don’t tell him. Oh never mind, he already knows.) Anyway I have heard this from other business gurus as well. My husband says you need to use KISS (Keep It Simple Sally [well I say Sally, he says something else]) and LEAN/agile business principles in whatever you do. You need start free or low-cost, with whatever name, whatever resources, and you need to “ship” early and often, get feedback and reiterate. That’s how you improve most quickly. That’s how my husband built his first businesses and that’s part of what I’m doing with my creative efforts here on this blog.
Having published on WordPress for nearly four months now, honestly I am sometimes so surprised by which bits of writing get the most positive feedback. It’s usually things that took me the least amount of time or stress to produce, plus what shows my most honest, strange, unedited core self. For example this piece (The Zombie Apocalypse Letter to God-Turned You) or this piece (Morning Routine) or even this piece (Untitled) or perhaps one of the easiest and most immediately popular of all, this piece (One For the Volcano God). I would not have known what would resonate with people, if I’d just kept “writing in the dark,” as I did for so many years, without “shipping” and getting feedback.
4. Do you have a favourite book, film, or TV series that you never get tired of? Again, TOO MANY to properly name… but I’ll give it a go. :))
- I am inspired by so many authors. Some classics/favourites/much-affected-by include L.M. Montgomery, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Hemingway, Kerouac, Carlos Castaneda, D.H. Lawrence, Alice Walker, Sousan Azadi, Rebecca Wells, William Blake, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Milan Kundera, Peter Mayle, Jean M. Auel, Phillis Wheatley, and Carol Shields. Also Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. I’m also massively impressed by bloggers-turned-book-authors like Glennon Doyle of Momastery, and creativity-coaching authors like Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Gilbert and Brené Brown, and business coaches like Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuck (whom I heard about via a designer-turned-business-guy, Seanwes). And kind and curious interviewers like Marie Forleo, my LinkedIn writer-podcast favourite Glenn Leibowitz, and of course, Oprah. Also, other authors whose works I haven’t read yet but have read about, and hope to get to know, like Toni Morisson, Dani Shapiro, Wole Soyinka, and Cheryl Strayed).
- Films: I love a good movie, especially any films that are filled with love, humour, whimsy and inspiration, like these: A Room With a View, Enchanted April, Amélie, and A Good Year (that last one is based on Peter Mayle’s novel of the same name). And yes, Love Actually. But also films that flip reality and expore “red pill” themes, like The Matrix and The Truman Show. And finally, anything at all with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller in it. Especially together.
- Two short, easy-read books I’d like to recommend: one is Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, 1977 (thanks train-running buddy “Manchester Dave,” for bringing it to my attention in Athens, circa 1992). The other one is The Science of Getting Rich (SOGR for short) by Wallace D. Wattles, 1910. (Thanks, Wikipedia entry for Rhonda Byrne’s book “The Secret,” when I DuckDuckGo’d that, circa 2015.) It is an easy and essential read for anyone with preconceived notions of wealth/health/happiness. Both of those books attempt to teach that reality is flexible and that we can create something out of what appears at first to be nothing, which I believe is the most important superpower anyone can have, and which can alleviate world poverty as well as general suffering of any kind, thereby the reason I promote them at the risk of possibly sounding cheesy. And SOGR is free online, on many websites and even on Amazon Kindle, since it’s in the public domain. I’m working on my own “digital reprint” here.
- Finally: “No Mud, No Lotus” is a book by celebrated Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, which I highly recommend, and by which the current tagline of this blog (“The mud, the lotus and the pale golden blue”) is partly inspired. Also, I love any poetry by Rumi. Further “input” is listed here on my Github blog.
5. Celebrate a flaw of yours; is there a particular imperfection that you’ve accepted, embraced and turned into a personal strength? Oh my. I have so many flaws and imperfections. Which to choose? Well, one of my biggest ones is certainly my difficulty in making decisions. I have an awful time deciding things. Another one is my tendency to self-sabotage, creatively at least. I have embraced both of these by writing about them. Writing is actually how I tackle a lot of problems. So in that regard my process for overcoming my imperfections is (I hope) my potential means to personal success.
RECOMMENDED BLOGS (compiled 2019-02-09 through 2019-02-21):
Now It’s my turn. Besides Matthew’s blog, as mentioned above, I would like to recommend these blogs:
- Lamplighter’s Tale: This is an incredibly insightful, thoughtful, well-worked blog by Digital Humanities graduate student Taylor-Cate Brown, of Loyola University, Chicago. Prepare to be inspired towards higher thought. Also, Taylor is one of the nicest people on the Internet. You can also check out this project with her fellow student Rebecca Parker over at MUDDLE magazine on Github — and even contribute, if you’re a bit literary, artistic, Github savvy and/or just very curious!
- Pizza Party of One: I’ve recommended Ailsa’s blog before. Started on the same day as my own WordPress blog, Ailsa’s blog (her name is pronounced “AIL-suh”) was started in the midst of, and perhaps as a kind of healing balm for, bereavement. But in spite of the sadness, her blog celebrates life through its blatant honesty. It shows this one young woman’s life as it is, no holds barred. To me these are the very best kind of blogs. I just love Ailsa’s millennial-sized heart and courage, and her zest for life even in the face of personal anguish alongside life’s everyday challenges. If you like pizza, wine, rom-coms and urban inner-speak (with plenty of F-bombs thrown in) then this blog’s for you.
- The soberiety/drink-aware blogs. The further I travel into midlife, the more interested I become in increasing awareness and thus decreasing alcohol intake — even the amount considered “normal” by society. There are so many wonderful sober/aware love warriors on WordPress as well — readers, just type “sobriety” into your WordPress Reader’s search field, if you’re a blogger on WP, or type “sobriety blogs” into your browser search, for those of you not on WordPress — and be prepared to be inspired by truth, love, and consciously-lived lives. One example that provides a quick read: Sober and Well by Melissa — brief, authentic, positive, and well-being focussed. For beautiful zen-style quotes and health-aware lifestyle, there is also L. Leeds Meyers’ Your Daily Dose of Kindness. If you are interested in mindful drinking or reducing your alcohol intake, you can also check out “Club Soda Together” on Facebook.
- A blog called “Dread Poets Sobriety” by Alex Blaikie (“A broken mind held together by cellophane and some tack.”). This is actually an impromptu addition to this list, since I came across it (while writing this!) by the search method listed in number three above, though whether it has much to do with the literal meaning of sobriety is for you to judge. His posts are (glancing at them) satiric and insightful on today’s world — but so are his “About” page (linked above—which is called “Origins”—and in which he interjects, in mid-third-person bio, “<Yes I am writing this myself and yes it is absurdly awkward in the third person.>”) and especially his “Legalese” page (“Should you plagiarize my work, / You’re a total f-ing jerk.), both of which I’m sorely tempted to plagiarize. (Kidding! His attorney is rumoured to own a firearm… ;)) Basically he puts awareness, process and humour into his art, which is my one of my favourite kinds of mixtures.
- The blog of rebel-gymnast-gone-viral, Katelyn Ohashi. I actually discovered this blog because of (fellow Canadian) Ross Murray‘s hilarious blog (which I have previously recommended), in particular due to one post in which Ross claims to have made a clone army of Katelyn Ohashi’s, to save the world. I then sought Katelyn Ohashi’s image on Instagram, so that I could make a costume design for said clone army(I’m a frustrated graphic artist/fashion designer by imaginary trade, among other things such as frustrated hairdresser, belly dancer, librarian, etc.) and ultimately discovered that she had this amazing project on Instagram to promote healthy body image/self esteem, as well as a blog doing the same, called Behind The Madness, together with friend/fellow gymnast Maria, here on WordPress. Wherever you choose to find Katelyn online, I recommend her story (you can find some links in my other post about her), because she shows us that we must each follow our own path, all the while building community and awareness, and not forgetting to ask for help when necessary. That is how we are most likely to find joy. And joy is the real secret of success.
- Akarsh Jain’s blog, A Fine Balance. Akarsh writes sensory-rich, immersive vignettes of life and love in India. In short, this blog is my biggest storytelling WordPress crush at the moment. One of his recent flash stories: Of Men and Their Ways, and its sequel, which shows the other main viewpoint in the story. Absolute magic! And definitely a fine balance.
- SKYLARITY by Josiah Harry: “Paradigm Shift, Mindfulness, and Personal Empowerment.“ Another impromptu addition — just saw this blog last night! A published author, a bass guitarist, residential draftsman, university academic… the list goes on. Anyway, his posts are incredibly uplifting and inspiring, all focussing on the positive and being the best we can be. What I liked best, reading through a few older posts, is that he includes autobiographical reference points from the perspective of an ambitious planetary enhancer, career-changer, mindfulness advocate, longtime spouse, and father of four. (So you can see why I feel a certain affinity. ;))) Love love love!
There are many other blogs I love here on WordPress, far too many to name in one post. I have named some of you in the past, and I will continue to do so in future. If you did not get named this time, it’s not because you aren’t amazing! Each of you is a “blazing bloom” to me, and it would not be the same without you!
WHAT I WANT US ALL TO ASK OURSELVES:
Now it’s my turn to do the asking. These questions could be answered by any or all of the above bloggers, if they/you wish to do so, but it’s also for each of you reading this. Please feel free to share them on your blogs/platforms and then post a link to them here. I would absolutely be honoured and thrilled to read them and I’m sure many others could benefit from your answers as well. Without further ado:
(NADINE’S) 3 CREATIVITY QUESTIONS:
- What are some things that bring you joy in this world? And how do you think you could further incorporate those things into your creative life?
- How do you balance “regular life” (e.g. daily “duties” and/or the need for money) with creative life/pursuits? And what improvements could be made to this balance, and what positive changes might they bring?
- Who are the people that have encouraged or inspired you the most, creatively? (For example, parents, siblings, teachers, or role models.) BONUS wor(l)d-blooming exercise: Write a paragraph about the way they’ve inspired you and/or helped you (and publish it, if you are willing/able!). Then (or instead), send that paragraph to them personally. It’s amazing how we can light up a person’s life with just a few words, sometimes.
THANK YOU! ❤︎
Well, that’s it for now! Thanks to each of you for being here and reading, but especially those of you who respond in some way. Your support means the world to me.
Write on. :))
- Link to Brené Brown’s 99U talk “Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count,” published by 99U’s YouTube channel, on Dec 4, 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk
- Link to article about the context of Samuel Beckett’s “fail better” quote: “Samuel Beckett’s Quote Fail Better Becomes the Mantra of Silicon Valley,” published by Slate, January 2014: https://slate.com/culture/2014/01/samuel-becketts-quote-fail-better-becomes-the-mantra-of-silicon-valley.html
- Link to one of my favourite episodes of Glenn Leibowitz’s Write With Impact podcast: “Robin Rice Shows You How to Discover (and Express) Your Writing Voice,” publishedApril 29, 2017: http://www.writewithimpact.com/robin-rice-shows-discover-express-writing-voice/
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. If you wish to contribute and/or show appreciation, please recommend/like and/or comment — or send email via the contact page [njl[at]bloomwords.com]. Thank you for reading. ❤︎