This has been an unbelievable week! I found out on Tuesday morning that my lovely blog friend Liz of Dot’s Know had nominated me for the Reader Appreciation Award. It was my work day and I wrote back quickly to thank her and to accept the award, promising that I would blog back as soon as possible.
On Wednesday, Jaimmers of Where Does This Road Goes? very generously bestowed on me with the Versatile Bloggers Award, which I also accepted within a heartbeat. Oh my goodness, what am I going to do? I have a dark secret here. Trophos, who writes The Dancing Professor, graciously nominated me for the Liebster Award, which came with it some very interesting but soul-searching questions on the auspicious day of December 12, 2012. I have pledged to write a post about it as well after accepting it.
As if three Awards sitting on my lap were not sufficient to propel me into a blogging frenzy, PaulaB, whose blog title, The Temenos Journal (and its posts as well) I find intriguing and interesting, honoured me by passing on her three awards: the Sisterhood-of-the-World-Bloggers Award, the Versatile Blogger Award and the Sunshine Blogger Award.
I want to thank all my award nominators for their kindness, support and encouragement. I had initially wanted to write a post about all the awards, but decided against this overwhelming undertaking. (Yes, I am kicking my own butt and cursing Me the procrastinator.) My plan now is to pay due respect to my blogging friends and the awards by individual posts. (Looking at this prospect on the positive side, I won’t be short of material to write about for a while.) My coping strategy when I have to multi-task is to tackle “one thing at a time”. If you think that this is a contradiction, please listen to my explanation. Imagine: I am juggling with three balls, four balls, maybe five balls. I keep my eyes on all of them, but I can catch only one ball at a time. If I pause to think about which ball to catch, or attempt to catch more than one, probably I’ll drop all the balls.
So, first thing first: The Liebster Award, which has opened for me the door to the colourful world of blogger awards in this community. I have tried to look up more about the Liebster Award, but the consensus on the internet is that its origin is a mystery other than the fact that “liebster” is German and means “dear, or favourite”. It is awarded to Blogs which has less than 200 followers. There are also many versions of the Liebster Award, but I shall follow in the footstep of Trophos and does what she has done.
In accordance with the first rule attached to accepting this award, I have posted the icon and I hereby accept with great pleasure the award from Trophos with this link to The Dancing Professor. I have been following The Dancing Professor and I admire her wit, her genuineness and above all, her scholarship. This makes it very heart-warming to receive an award from her.
My next task—and probably that is why I have been procrastinating—is to answer some questions.
1. What book should every writer read, and what should they notice about it?
There must a reason for James Joyce’s Ulysses to be listed as the top pick of the best 100 English novels published in the 20th century by the panel representing the Board of the Modern Library, a branch of Random House. This may not be my favourite book, but definitely a must read. In fact, ‘reading’ maybe an under-statement of the process, because to appreciate Ulysses, it comes close to ‘studying’ it. Personally, I have made four attempts with Ulysses. The first time and I could not even remember the edition or version was an aborted trial. That happened even after I had read The Dubliners and The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and finding that I liked Joyce’s style of writing. I had also read Odyssey and considered myself reasonably acquainted with Greek mythology in general. The second attempt was a success and I paged through the entire book, but that was a long time ago. My third attempt was more serious, and I read the Oxford World Classics paperback edition in which Jeri Johnson (1993) wrote the Introduction, the Explanatory Notes and Appendices. Unfortunately, I was distracted and did not continue for reasons I could not recall. The fourth and most recent read was epiphany. Not only did I notice more about the plot and the writing, I was appreciating more Joyce’s allusions, parodies and the references to the great classics of western civilization. Joyce’s greatness as an author is undebatable. I also give credit to Johnson’s clarity in her Notes. I cannot think of any books, perhaps other than Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies (two volumes) in which the appendices are as worthwhile reading as the text.
I think every writer should read Ulysses, and notice in it Joyce’s craft as well as his scholarship. The details are far beyond this blog to enunciate, but I hope Trophos will accept my answer.
2. Where do you write? What would stand out about that area to a new observer?
I write my blog on my laptop at my small working area in my family room. As I am writing now, I can look onto my kitchen, thanks to the open concept layout, because often times I have something cooking on the stove when I am writing. It also means that sometimes when I become too engrossed in my writing, I burn my food, only to be alerted to the disaster by my olfactory sense. Since this is also my working area at home, the new observer will notice my organized mess–paper and books usually, and my piles of paper consisting of articles I have printed from the Internet, unfiled recipes, waiting-to-be-paid bills, and my to-do lists pinned up in front of me.
3. What do you think about clichés in writing?
I am learning to write again with the help of this Blog. This means eschewing the dry and cautious style of clinical report writing, which I do for my work on a regular basis. I want to write freely, without worrying about referencing or documentation, implicit or explicit, in the event that I have to justify what I have written in court. Clichés are used in clinical writing, as long as I feel safe that there is a mutual understanding between me and the reader. I remember writing a blog post by beginning, ” It is universally acknowledged that…”. I did pause there and then and asked myself, “Need I pay tribute to Jane Austen?” and my immediate answer was, “Forget it; who cares?” I sometimes use a cliché and acknowledge that it is a cliché if it delivers how I feel. For now, please let me get away with it. I just want to write.
4. What is the story behind something that you’re wearing?
I am wearing a very old sweat shirt and a pair of sweat pants which are my lounge suit, so to speak. They were bought in an outlet store in Hong Kong at the time I was shopping to prepare for my move to Canada. My sister-in-law who also immigrated to Canada about the same time came on this trip with me. It was a unique experience of bulk buying, if not panic shopping, because people were telling us that everything would be very expensive in Canada. We were shopping for ourselves, our husband and our children, whose clothing came in different sizes to allow for the time they grew bigger. It was a refugee mentality which made sense only to those who had to leave their home to begin a new life in a land unknown. This is probably the reason why I still have not thrown away some old garments I have brought with me to Canada, as if I am clinging to some part of my past.
5. Twitter, tumblr, facebook, other? And why?
I am on Facebook, under another name, known only to people in a few select groups. I have a Twitter account but neither Twit nor follow. The reason, simple. I do not see the need to be active in the social media, or the need for other people to know what happens in my life all the time. I know I am limiting my Blog exposure by not linking it to Facebook or Twitter, but until I know exactly what I want to do with my Blog, I feel fine with it for now. If you are reading this, thank you very much for finding me and do let me know so that I can reciprocate your visit.
6. What is your alternate-universe self doing with her life?
This is a clever question to go beyond my About page on Opalla the fitness walker, hiker, adventurous food lover, book club member and occasional concert goer. I hope Trophos is not steering me to think a là Stephen Hawking, for that would be a tough call. I live with my husband in a bedroom town in Ontario, Canada. We are empty-nesters performing distant parenting duties— and I owe this concept to my blogging friend Karen— to our three grown up children. I am semi-retired, which is a glorified term for working part-time at my age. Oh yes, something I do that I have not blogged about yet, I sing the alto part in the church choir and I play the piano.
7. What was the first book you loved, or the first moment you realized you loved reading?
I have loved reading as far as I can remember, in spite of a few phases in my life when I cannot pick up a novel even when the thought of reading crosses my mind. I read modern Chinese literature written after the May Fourth Movement in elementary school and was exposed to English literature at that age thanks to the Longman’s Simplified Readers and Abridged Series. I read “real” English novels in Junior High and that was when I was captivated by Rebecca written by Daphne du Maurier. It was the first English book that I just loved. I was enchanted by the mystery and the romance. After that, I read all du Maurier’s books that I could lay my hands on.
I suddenly realize that I have written a very long post and I am enjoying myself responding to all these questions. I have not gone out walking tonight, because it’s snowing but my time has been well spent. Honestly, even if it were not snowing, I would keep on writing than have it interrupted. I shall leave my other tasks associated with the Liebster Award until another post. Sorry to keep my nominees, whoever you are, in suspense, but this is my promise– I may be late, but not never. Indeed, this is what The Dancing Professor has done. She has split the award blogging in two parts, and this is also my tribute to you, Prof!