The Premise: Multi-talented Kah at Kah Choon’s Blog recently nominated me for The Liebster Award, a “Discover New Blogs” kind of thing where one blogger gives a shout-out to 11 other bloggers they find interesting (or at least not-annoying). Since I enjoy reading Kah’s blog, where the topics range from light-hearted to serious and therefore you never know what you are going to get (and this is a good thing, folks), I greatly appreciated the nomination. So, first and foremost, thank you, Kah, for selecting me from the billions of bloggers out there. I wish you the best of luck with your blogging endeavors. (Dear Readers, this is the point where you should click on Kah’s link above and expand your horizons. I will be prompting you to make many clicks during this post, so I hope you’re sitting in a comfortable chair and that you have a satisfying beverage on-hand to assist you in your journey.)
The Hesitation: Things like this make me a little squirmy. While I understand that the purpose behind these various “awards” which are lobbed about in the blogging community is to help bloggers grow readership, they are, by default, a bit exclusionary. If I nominate 11 blogs that I like, what does that say to the hundreds of other blogs I follow that I don’t ding with a ping? We’ve all been there. We see one of our blogging friends post that they’ve been nominated for one of these follower-boosting awards, and we excitedly scroll through the list of their nominees. Only to find that not only did we not get a shout-out, we don’t know anything about the other people nominated. The message is painful, especially if you thought the nominated blogger was someone who would surely give you a high-five, and they didn’t.
In a sense, it’s the equivalent of being back in junior-high, where we were first learning how to navigate the complications of social interaction. (Elementary school doesn’t count, at least not for my generation. Those primary years in public school were mainly a whirlwind of figuring out where you classroom might be, where the all-important bathrooms were located, and whether or not you had enough paste in your cache of school supplies to adequately sculpt a decoupage bobble-head of George Washington. We had no concept that we should rank our friends. We only knew that we had friends.) It was secondary school where I learned that people expected you to make choices.
I don’t like picking my favorites. I want everybody to win.
The Reality: Sometimes we take a tiny thing and make it much bigger than it really should be. (I am fully certified in this particular skill, because my mind never shuts off and I lay awake at night, bandying about the pros and cons of everything I should be considering. Some people can check off a box with relative ease; I wonder why the box was created and why there needs to be checking. Why are there labels? Why are there rules of worthiness? Shouldn’t we all just pass the mashed potatoes when someone asks for them, and assume that the potatoes will be passed to us when we need them? There doesn’t need to be a checklist of who is worthy of the potatoes.)
On the flip side, I have been contemplating for some time that I should do a blog roll, wherein I trumpet the blogs that I really like. Doing so means that I have to make choices, cutting and balancing my options (and therefore my friends), something that is anathema to me. But I suppose that I should get in the spirit of things, accept the fact that social-networking is the new “picking teams for Red Rover on the playground”, and just go with it.
Editor: “Do you have any idea how your neurotic issues are turning a simple blog post into some Greek Tragedy that is blown all out of proportion?”
Me: “I’m guessing that you were always picked in the first rounds of Red Rover and you never had to be the single leftover who had to sit on the sidelines and hope for another day when somebody might actually call your name.”
Editor: “Oh. I didn’t realize that there were people who were left out in that game. Are you sure you were playing it right?”
Me: “And both of those concepts are exactly my points.”
Anyway, (a word that “writing experts” say we should never use to start a paragraph and therefore I do so as often as possible), I decided to take the plunge this time around. I still feel a bit of unease in doing this, but at the same time I know what it’s like to put your heart into a blog post, shove it out into the world, and then tumbleweeds blow by and no one reads the damn thing. So, maybe, I can help somebody out. And here we go…
The “rules” for a person nominated for a Liebster are as follows:
1. Write a post to show your award. (Doing that.)
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself. (Oh God.)
3. Answer the 11 questions you were asked. (These are asked by the person who nominates you.)
4. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog. (Done.)
5. Select the 11 other blogs you want to give the award to and have them answer 11 questions. (This is where the heart palpitations kick in.)
The 11 Questions Asked of Me:
1. “What is your favorite book and/or movie?”
I can’t answer this one with a finite choice. There are so many books and movies that are favorites, but for very different reasons. I think I’ll take the easy way out and simply refer you to a recent post of mine: 51 Things about 49 Movies.
2. “Who has been the biggest influence in your life?”
Anyone I’ve ever met who knows the pain of being different, and yet still remains true to themselves.
3. “Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?”
In a place where I can do what I want, when I want to do it, and my best friends are there with me.
4. “Describe your ideal Autumn.”
It’s Halloween, every day.
5. “Describe yourself in 5 words.”
Passionate, Accepting, Yearning, Dreaming, Inspired
6. “What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?”
I’m still waiting for that moment.
7. “Zombie attack or alien invasion, if one had to happen, which would you prefer?”
I survived growing up gay in Oklahoma. I think I can handle either one of these situations with experience and jazz-hands.
8. “How long have you been blogging?”
8 years. (Funny how the 8s worked out on that one. I swear I didn’t plan it.)
9. “Do you have any goal for 2016?”
The Tea Party goes down in flames in November, finally.
10. “Do you have any regrets for 2015?”
Many. This is what makes us human. Well, most of us, anyway.
11. “What did you want to be when you were little?”
The one who actually got to make the decisions instead of the one who had to deal with the ineptitude.
11 Random Facts about Myself (Wherein I get a bit more serious about things than I usually do):
1. In my youth, I would go into my bedroom closet, shut the door, turn off the light, and then use a flashlight to read Stephen King novels. This upped the creepy factor for me, and I loved it. (I also used this same method to play with my Lite-Brite, but I soon lost all the little colorful pegs and that avenue became pointless. I stayed with the Stephen thing, though. Well, at least the reading part. I came out of that closet a long time ago.)
2. In that same youth, I lived across the street from another boy named Brian, who was slightly younger. We were known as Big Brian and Little Brian by the other neighborhood urchins. (You know, back in the day when kids actually played outside and you had to use your imagination to entertain yourself and not an online password.) I choose to believe that the “Big Brian” moniker was an acknowledgement of my seniority and not the fact that I was a bit portly as a child.
3. I could spend a lifetime in a second-hand bookstore, wandering the aisles, looking for treasures.
4. I wrote my first book when I was 12, banged out on a crappy typewriter that somebody, I no longer recall who, shoved in my direction as a diversion to keep me occupied. This glowing example of literature was lost many decades ago. I really would like to read that thing now…
5. My concept of ideal fashion involves jeans and a worn-out t-shirt. I’ve never been interested in the packaging, only in the contents.
6. I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in my senior year of high school. Such innocence, then, even on my own part. The hope and the promise, diluted by time. Still, I have embers that will never go out…
7. I love falling asleep to the ocean waves rolling in, incessantly. I don’t get to do this very often, but maybe, someday…
8. If someone asked me to pick my favorite life moment, I couldn’t do it. We are a composite of fleeting images, trickling through our fingers, and it is impossible to point at one thing and say “there, that was it…”
9. I am grateful for people who understand that they are not the only person in the world who matters. I am mystified by the sheer number of people who cannot grasp this concept.
10. Every time I hear the Cat Steven’s song “Father and Son” the relevancy in my own life is overwhelming. (“I have to go…”)
11. There is something about sitting on my patio, alone, late at night, hearing the wind rustle the branches of the nearby trees that speaks to a part of me that I cannot explain.
11 Questions for the Bloggers I Nominate:
1. Do you spend a lot of time editing a post, or do you simply bang it out and think “well, that should do it”?
2. Do you get anxious when you get a notification that someone has made a comment on one of your posts, wondering if this person liked it or if they said something that cuts?
3. What actor/actress would portray you in a Lifetime movie about that time you did something you shouldn’t have?
4. Have you ever deleted a post, thinking maybe you shouldn’t have said what you did?
5. (This one has a multi-part answer, brace yourself.) Do you spend a lot of time figuring out what tags you should use with a post? Does it annoy you when you see another writer’s post that has 472 tags, indicating they are trying to hit every demographic on the planet even though their post doesn’t address 471 of those tags?
6. How many incomplete posts do you have in the “maybe I’ll finish this later” folder on your hard drive?
7. Have you ever participated in one of those “post your work and let others critique it” sites, such as Niume, Scriggler and Writer’s Beat? If so, was it helpful or soul-damaging?
8. Have you never been mellow?
9. If you were stranded on a deserted island, would you rather have a Kindle (assuming the island has Wi-Fi) or an endless supply of paper and pencils?
10. Are there any authors whose next book you would buy without any hesitation?
11. Are you happy?
My 11 Nominees for the Liebster Award:
Note: I have linked to the “About” pages for these blogs (when possible), which creates a true “pingback” that alerts the writer of the connection, something that doesn’t always happen with linking to the home page. Once on the site, please click on the “home” page to get the full flavor of the blog, as some of us are a bit shy on the bio page and you don’t get the true flavor of the blog until you see the full site. (By the way, this list is arranged in random order. No one at the top should feel especially haughty, and no one toward the end should feel slighted. Namaste.)
Christi at Feeding on Folly
Anne Marie at Monsters and Angels
Claudette at To Search and to Find
Millennial Girl at Diary of a Millennial Girl
Blair at The Shameful Sheep
JC at An Unexpected Muse
Margo at That Little Voice
Lorie at Lorie Schaefer
Sabiscuit at Sabiscuit’s Catalog
Anna at The Mischief Memoirs
Note to the people I have nominated:
Don’t panic. You do not have to participate in any way. As I babbled about above, these nomination things are not necessarily my cup of tea. (I have been nominated in the past, and I quietly pretended that I didn’t notice it.) If you prefer to simply click “like” and then go on about your life that is perfectly fine. I only ask that you consider two things: One, are there certain blogs that you really enjoy and would like to spread the word about their existence? Two, could you make a blog post of this kind fit into the flow of your blog? (I fully understand that some people are very selective about what they post. Throwing in something off-key can wallop the balance.) But if your answer to both of these questions is “yes”, perhaps there’s something you can do to help out your fellow writers…
Note to the people I did not nominate who are surprised that I didn’t:
I could only nominate 11. Trust me, the list fluctuated considerably as I fiddled around with this mess. I finally settled on a mix of various formats and viewpoints. In the process, I realized that I can’t do just one of these posts, so there will be more in the future. Please set your DVR’s for the next episode.
Note to the other people who have made it this far in the post:
Thank you for taking the time to do so. Maybe you could do a bit of clicking? You just might find something you didn’t know you were missing…
Big Brian (The Boy Who Read in the Dark, Looking for Light)
P.S. If you are wondering why I used such a severe pic of myself for this post, let me try to explain. Those who know me well fully understand that this is my generic expression for every situation in my life, from complete euphoria (“We’re going drinking on Bourbon Street!”) to utter defeat (“The toilet is clogged again and I don’t have the strength to deal with it”). I chose this pic to emphasize the fact that first impressions are rarely what they seem, and we should always dig deeper to get to the heart of the matter…
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