I was nominated for The Liebster Award 99 million years ago by my buddy Alex over at Bookish Leftish Gibberish which is much more reasonable than he himself would probably credit it as. Go for rants about politics in the UK but stay for the interesting insights and great writing tips.
1.) Choose a superpower to be given to both you and a random person you don’t like.
The ability to slow down time. But not for the world around other people so we have more time, around us, so we go slower. It’s completely useless hahahaha. What? I wouldn’t want someone I don’t like to have an advantage.
2.) Which old-timey writer do you most wish was around and making dank memes today?
Mary Shelley, mayhaps. I think she’d get some pretty dank memes. I just recently watched Pride & Prejudice so maybe Jane Austen: she has a hand for conveying the absurdities of society and she’d be a welcome memer. If not, James Baldwin. He’d create that hilarious risky content that people are thirsty for in a very divisive age.
3.) Link to the content you’ve made that best represents you, and explain why.
Hmm. As it stands, this poem about Edinburgh perhaps gives you a flavour of who I am in a lot of ways. It’s the blueprint for all my poems. My answer, though, has to be this one as it’s a more extended and personal take because it’s literally about my various relations (real and imagined).
4.) What’s the most significant thing you’ve changed your mind about, and why?
Good question. Tough one. I change a lot so it’s hard to keep track of all them let alone the most significant. But I would say a significant one would be regarding my ability to write essays. I was fairly disenchanted towards the end of university for my perceived lack: that I wasn’t going to be an academic as a safety net. The key problem lies in safety net instead of being serious about academia. While I got my desired result I thought I couldn’t continue at more advanced levels. I was burnt out.
But the logical consequent (I saw) to my disenchantment was that I couldn’t put my skills to use and try to engage people. But I had a knack for synthesis and a desire to write essays. I didn’t need a degree to allow me to, I could do it. I don’t think my project to write in public is far-reaching but has some uses. Trying my hand has made more confident about my judgements so I would say it’s been great to have this flawed but important journey.
5.) What are the best and worst parts of online culture?
Pros: Connectivity, the ability to make friends you otherwise would not have made, a dearth of information readily available at your fingertips.
Cons: F a k e n e w s, THE A L G O R I T H M S which help give space to only the most polarising views which in turn drops nuance out of the equation in the face of very complicated issues. Look, we’ve always enjoyed the sensational but the ways in which our social media has been built exaggerates this propensity to worrying degrees. When I see outrage, abuse, and death threats becoming the norm when people don’t like shit I despair. Social media platforms have set up an unwieldy beast. (Looking at you, Facebook.)
6.) What book is overrated?
I dunno if there’s a book that I would say is particularly overrated because it’s so personal. I reviewed Never Let Me Go after being intrigued by its universal acclaim and was a bit disappointed, to be honest. More so for me, though, is True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. I read it years ago and learnt later it was a Man Booker Prize winner. I found it to be turgid and exhausting. More adult eyes might change that (I did read it in English nearly a decade ago and analysis has a way of sucking the entertainment out of a book for) but still. MAN. I could not rationalise why people loved it so much.
7.) What book is underrated?
Anything by Jen Williams or Bradley Beaulieu. Being a quote-unquote “genre” writer already puts you in the fringes of the literary world but even then they’re carving out an admittedly respectable space. Still small, though. Dana Spiotta is another one. Her style of writing is definitely not mainstream but it’s immensely perceptive and humane even if it does get caught up in itself with its more abstract ideas. Stone Arabia is a book that I keep thinking about often and is one that many potentially interested people will miss because of its lack of mainstream flavour.
[Fun fact] A long time ago, I considered writing a post on these very same authors on this very same topic. Don’t know if my blog as it exists now has that kind of real estate but I have thought about it.
8.) Is there a widely hated book trope which you actually like?
Interesting question. I don’t know is the short answer. I don’t mind fragmented narratives, to be honest. Some people hate the lack of focus but I’m partial to something with an interesting structure so long as it’s not all about the fact that it has an interesting structure. Infinite Jest has a structure that is as interesting as it is frustrating, for example.
9.) Pick one thing to change about human biology.
Gills. Water-adapted gills. Like how our hands get wrinkly in enough water, we get gills when we’re water long enough. I think that would greatly enhance our relationship to the ocean and be more empathetic to aquatic animals.
10.) What’re you listening to lately?
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast. Or trying to (it’s 2 hours long, lol). If you want an ambitious hip-hop album with a lot of range, this is your kind of music. Music to dance to, reflect to, bob your head to. Guarantee you’ve heard a good portion of their hit songs: they’re all on here (“Hey Ya!” anyone?).
Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens. Stevens is perhaps best known for his master work Illinois, a brilliant piece of music, but Seven Swans (released a year before) is a very stripped-back and intimate album and is arguably him at his best.
For My Crimes by Marissa Nadler, but also weeb shit I’m not confident enough to post about.
11.) I’m to do this:
I choose Earth. The others are weirdly specific and I kind of enjoy not having to worry about diseases fucking me over, especially as I start to age. I could help in research for diseases in that case! A cold is unpleasant but I can deal with it over being at risk by something more life-threatening, ya dig?
I am nominating:
Diario de una Adventurera
S.E. Berrow (I know you are on hiatus and you definitely do not have to do this but it would not feel right not nominating you)
Harli V. Park
Words & Music (Mike Power NYC)
The Critiquing Chemist
Life of Chaz
(And anyone else, if you want it.)
And I am asking you:
1.) Everyone you love is gathered at your funeral. What are they saying about you?
2.) What thing do you value the most in life? What would you do if it was taken from you?
3.) Pick an album/piece of music that reflects you well as a person.
4.) Your proudest piece of writing has been taken by your enemy and it’s blowing up and gaining them immense acclaim. You have the chance to reclaim what’s yours and clear the air but it comes at the price of never writing again. Do you call your nemesis out?
5.) What location (city, type of structure like a house, etc.) would you say is your ideal one? Why?
6.) The trajectory of your life is determined by a fortune-telling. It’s accurate and will 100% occur if you hear it but you cannot chose what it is. Do you accept?
7.) What one thing about the world would you like to change? Why?
8.) How are you doing? Tell me about something you’re thankful for today/recently.
9.) What piece of art changed you as a person the most?
10.) What memory/period in time would you visit and why? (NOTE: there’s a catch with this. You can only go back to a time that happened during your lifetime, although you can select something unrelated to your life entirely, for example, meeting JK Rowling before Harry Potter was published.)