The genius author of Non-Euclidean Sofa has very generously nominated me for a blog award that complements me on my writing. As a person who spent his early childhood years struggling with writing, went on to publish some academic articles, and has been teaching writing for twenty years, I feel honored to receive this nomination. If you haven’t read anything from Non-Euclidean Sofa you might enjoy it, especially if you’re a teacher and even more if you are an English teacher or have ever been a graduate student struggling through life as an underpaid TA.
Awards are not invented by some independent association. They are something that bloggers themselves nominate each other for to say, “Hey! I think your blog is awesome!” It’s a bit like going beyond the “like” button.
When you are nominated you should nominate others. This particular one asks me to suggest blogs for the award and ask them some questions to answer. If you are nominated and don’t wish to participate that’s just fine! Some people do not enjoy blog award activity. I’ve never done this before and I think it’s fun.
Here are my nominees:
All the above blogs tell stories in unique ways and I truly enjoy reading them. I admire each of them as writers for different reasons. Tanglewood Knots is very descriptive and also shares stories about life that are interesting and often useful. ALive in DEADTOWN is a fun work of fiction that invites readers to choose the direction of the adventure. Craft and Other Crazy Plans is enjoyable for me to read because it brings me into contact with a style of written English that I teach as a second language but that I myself never use because I’m American. On Claire93’s Blog I find all the word play and use of idioms that I love. Yochet Crochet has so many inspirational, well-written stories of crafting, learning, and teaching with a personal touch.
Here are my questions for my nominees:
- What do you find most frustrating about writing?
- What, for you, is the best thing about writing?
- Where is your favorite place to write?
- Do you have a favorite proverb? What is it and why do you like it so much?
- Which, for you, is the best word in the English language?
- Is there an author or group of authors that inspire you?
- What’s the best thing you ever wrote?
- Do you have a favorite pen? Describe it if you do.
- If you could change a book’s ending, how would you rewrite it?
- If you had more time to study, what language would you want to learn?
- What is your favorite symbol on your computer’s keyboard?
And now it’s time for me to answer the questions I was asked. Here it goes:
Why do you write?
I write because I enjoy it. It’s my favorite way to communicate. This has not always been true. When I was a student all the way to the end of my undergraduate program I had to write because teachers and professors demanded this. After, I became a graduate student and had to write if I wanted to continue with my career in academia. As a professor I had to write if I wanted tenure. Now that’s all behind me and writing has never been more enjoyable. I can write about anything I want, when I want, and how I want. Writing is now happiness whereas before it was a punishment.
Is there anything in your life that fills the same need as writing?
I suppose speaking allows me to communicate and socialize with other people. Writing, though, is different for me because it’s more an art form and less a practical method of conveying messages to others. It allows me to think carefully so that I am perfectly clear and hopefully someone will enjoy reading what I’ve composed. Speaking, of course, can be very creative and in history we can find many examples of women and men who were famous for their speeches. Good orators, however, often write what they are going to say and edit the text. Then, they memorize it. Oddly, speaking and writing are closely connected when it comes to formal discourse.
Did you always want to write, or were you more like me and wanted to be the president of the lost city of Atlantis?
No. When I was a child I wanted to be an astronaut. I had big plans. I was going to visit other planets and discover new life forms that didn’t need water or oxygen to survive. In my ship I was going to fly faster than the speed of light and shoot up asteroids. In a year’s time I was going to make lots of money from space exploration. I have no idea why I thought I’d become rich from it but kids think randomly, sometimes.
What’s something you want to write about but haven’t yet for some reason?
I actually want to write about the Truth of Everything. This would take too long and it would be a multi-volume work. I wish to do this because I don’t like lies and I get very frustrated with people who tell falsehoods or live their lives deceiving others or make pretend they are something they are not. Liars have always found ways to waste my time but fortunately I have figured them out and got far enough away from them. My large project on this subject would begin with a chapter called “Your Facebook Friend Actually Regrets Having a Family.” You know, because my Newsfeed gets jammed up with statuses from the same person who is always gushing over her kids. I often imagine this individual, just after pressing the “post” button, shouting thousands of expletives at her “angelic and amazing” children who, after emptying all the cleaning products into the toilet, have decided to play a game of living room basketball. All the while she was distracted for hours by her social media accounts, mostly fawning over her own selfies. The next chapter would have the title “Let’s Do Coffee Sometime / Let’s Not and Say we Did.” Yes, you understand me perfectly clearly, this is a pet peeve of mine. If I wish to do coffee with somebody I just say, “Hey, are you free tomorrow for coffee?” If they say no, that’s fine. If they say yes, well, now we’ve got a plan. So, I get truly irritated with people who say goodbye and say, “Let’s do coffee sometime!” A favorite hobby of mine is to immediately reply with, “How about tomorrow?” 80% of the time I see the bright, fake smile turn to a frown. And then the typical response: “Er, uh, no, I can’t tomorrow. I’ll send you a message!” I guess you could say that I enjoy trolling liars and fake people in real life rather than online.
What is your favorite punctuation mark?
My absolutely favorite punctuation mark is the hyphen. I love it because it is mysterious and different countries’ versions of standard written English approach the hyphen in divergent, yet equally confusing ways. Standard British English requires hyphens for some compound words for no apparent reason, even though there’s a rule for it. Standard American English usually asks us to hyphenate when we use two words together as an adjective that represents a single idea. Isn’t that difficult to wrap your head around? Adjectives are not ideas. Nouns are ideas. If we have two words that normally do not combine as a compound word how are they suddenly going to become a single idea? Hyphens are grammar anarchy at its finest. They are the best anomaly in punctuation.
What is something you cannot stand?
Telemarketing. Need I say more?
What is something you can stand, but you’d really rather not deal with it.
I can tolerate salespeople in a shop or department store but it’s a challenge for me to speak nicely with them if they try to use their pitch on me. So, I prefer not dealing with them. When I do, I have to force myself to smile because, for whatever reason, if I smile it is easier for me to speak politely. You see, when I go shopping, I like to have the freedom to look around and see all the wonderful things. Then, I enjoy choosing the items I wish to buy and paying for them. When I’ve got someone following me around the store asking me questions and trying to see if they can convince me to buy something I don’t want to buy I get very irritated. I understand their job is to try to make me discover that I need something that I didn’t know I lacked and that they are just doing what they’re paid to do. The problem is that it’s absolutely pointless to try that on me. I know how to make up my own mind and when it’s made, that’s the end of it. I’m also aware of what I like and before I leave the house I decide what I’m shopping for. Shopping for me is like being on a mission. The salespeople just unnecessarily interrupt the task.
If you could burn any single building to the ground, what building would it be?
When was the last time you laughed so hard you made a noise you’re ashamed of?
That has never happened to me. If I laugh really hard sometimes I make a soft snorting sound, but I don’t feel ashamed at all. We must take into account that it’s hard to embarrass me. I think the last time I was embarrassed was in 1987 and I can’t remember why. I probably got in trouble for something at school.
What would it take for you to steal a car?
A zombie apocalypse. According to the movies and TV shows, when there are zombies it is necessary to steal cars and drive them until they run out of gas or are totaled. Before the zombies eat you it’s possible to steal as many as twenty cars. I have a major problem that I must overcome before the zombie apocalypse, though. I don’t know how to hot wire a car or pick locks.
If you had a spear, a potted plant, and an empty journal, what would you do with them to impress a date?
I would magically transform them into spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and salad. The road to the heart begins with my good Italian cooking.