Sunshine Awards

I don’t usually do these, but Dan Alatorre over at this blawg here said I had to, or…

…or.

Actually, I don’t know what happens if I don’t do it. But Dan said I had to. So.

I got nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. When you guys are done laughing at the idea of me getting nominated for Sunshine anything, I’m supposed to do three things:

1) Thank the Dan who nominated me
2) Answer Dan’s eleven questions
3) Nominate eleven (!!) bloggers to take my place in the eleventh sunshine circle of hell, and provide eleven questions for these eleven bloggers to answer.

Is that clear? It has numbers in front of it. Numbers are clear.

Without further ado, thanks to Dan Alatorre, for forcing a ray of sunshine into my ghastly-gloomy blog, directly after ALL that horrorflash. 🙂

Dan’s Questions:

1) Where is the strangest place you’ve ever made whoopee?
Now, Dan. My mom reads this blog. If whoopee means what I SUSPECT it means, I am unwilling to answer this question, because MOM I AM TOTALLY A VIRGIN.

If, however, it means farting (which is what I secretly REALLY want it to mean) then the answer is church. Oh, buddy. Church. See also: funerals. The stench-gas of sadness has eked out of my black-clad buttocks at more than one graveside service.

2) Share a blog post you wrote that meant a lot to you and tell us why you picked that one.
Here recently, it would probably be this underappreciated baby about the importance of proper word choice. I don’t see a lot of writing posts that deal with the actual mechanics of writing, save as pedantic grammar chicanery, and I hate to say this, but the basic mechanics are precisely what a lot of us need help with. I’m working on a post or two now devoted to metric feet, and the SOUND of metric meter in prose, to address more of these issues: it isn’t enough to simply look at good writing, say ‘that sounds good’, and move on. There are reasons good writing sounds good, and a writer should be able to pick out what those reasons are.

3) Kiss a stranger or eat a Scotch egg?
This is actually an incredibly complicated question for me.

On one hand, I hate touching other people. Does that sound antisocial? Yes? It probably is. But when a stranger touches my arm, or tries to hug me, my stomach does a sort of tribal knot-dance of terror and agony.

On the other hand, as per Scotch egg? I’m vegetarian.

I might have to go with kissing the stranger here, little though I want to. I think I’d actually prefer a kiss to full hug-contact, and if I initiate I’ll probably make it through alive.  Scotch eggs are, however, delicious, and if I still ate meat it would unquestionably be the Scotch egg.

4) Rob a Wal-Mart or wear a bikini at the beach?
Wal-Mart, I’m comin’ for you. All the paper towels I can wipe things down with sounds awesome.

5) What is your deepest fear about your writing?
I think this is the same thing for most people, in the end. I worry I’m not as good as I think I am.

6) What is your best book?
You know, I think folks expect to hear Aurian and Jin here, but actually? I’m going to go with one I’m working on now. Which no one else has read. Therefore: no one can disagree with me. I feel like I get a little bit better with every story I write, and that’s important.

7) Do you get manicures, and if so, when was your last one and what did it cost?
I’ve NEVER gotten a manicure, actually. Again with the people touching me. Especially pedicures—augh! How can you let someone that close to your feet? You walk on those.

Also, it’s a silly thing to spend money on.

8) Jacuzzi or dry sauna?
Getting drunk in a hot tub is one of the Five Greatest Pleasures of Winter. The other four are:
2) Getting drunk in bed
3) Getting drunk in a sweater
4) Getting drunk on New Year’s
5) Getting drunk at Christmas.

9) Who is your favorite author ever and who is your favorite that you’ve read this year?
My favorite writer ever is probably Ursula K. Leguin. The Left Hand of Darkness is a masterful novel, and the language is simple but elusively beautiful. Some of her other stuff verges on seventies woo-woo to me, but Left Hand makes up for all of it. If I could work with half of her skill and simplicity of phrase, I would be so happy I’d let strangers hug me.

Other favorites of mine, in poetry and prose: Dostoyevsky, Margaret Atwood, Terry Pratchett, Iain M. Banks, Pablo Neruda, Kasuo Ishiguro, Andrei Codrescu, Umberto Eco, T.C. Boyle, Muriel Rukeyser, Charles Bukowski, Wilkie Collins.

Best thing I’ve read this year has probably been Dan Simmons’s Drood, as long as we’re talking about Mr. Collins. I love Wilkie Collins, in spite of all advice to the contrary, and I can’t read his novels without thinking about the picture of him presented in this book now. Whether it’s a good or a bad thing I’m not sure, but it was damned effective, obviously.

10) What author or blogger would you like to sit down and have drinks with?
I’d like to buy a drink for my first creative writing professor in college. Just to say thank you, and to tell him that, in spite of me being an insufferable pain in the ass, a piss poor student, and full of absolutely undeserved arrogance, I heard him. The things he taught made a difference to me, and I’m forever grateful for his class, even if it looked like it was falling on deaf ears at the time.

11) If you have one piece of career advice to share with the readers here, what would it be? Lame as this sounds, and as often as this advice gets shared: keep the fire burning. You should have a passion for what you do, and even if you fail by the rest of the world’s standards that fire will keep you alive. I don’t advocate Hamsen-style starvation, but you need to do the things that make you happy with yourself, and not the things that sell. Having passion won’t get you money, necessarily, and it won’t make you famous, and it won’t sell your books. But you’ll have it. And if you think there needs to be some justification other than that, then you aren’t in the right line of work.

I’m not going to nominate anyone specifically here, because shyness. So you’re all nominated. All of you. Especially Dave Koster over here at On Writing Dragons and Chris over here at The Opening Sentence. Because I like you guys.

My Questions For You:

1) If you had to survive on one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
2) What’s more important in a story: character, plot, or voice?
3) What’s the first book you remember being deeply affected by?
4) How important is good grammar in a novel to you?
5) Would you rather get blackout drunk in front of
A) Your mother-in-law, or
B) Your boss?
6) In honor of the season, tell me one good memory you have about Halloween as a child. (The first year I was diabetic for Halloween, my dad traded me my candy for a guitar. My dad is, obviously, very cool.)
7) One word or phrase that really annoys you.
8) Give me five single words that describe your writing style.
9) What’s the best part of an average day for you?
10) If you’re writing, somebody somewhere encouraged you to do it. Who?
11) What makes you decide a story is bad?