Liebster!

lieber-award

D’awww. *blush* I’ve been nominated for membership in the National Geographic Society — erm, the Liebster Award! Thanks, Maggie Murphy! I feel ashamed to have let this blog sit so long … perhaps you are trying to goad me back into writing, eh? I don’t know how to link properly (and I’m too lazy to figure it out at the moment), but you can find Maggie’s Liebster-lovely blog on the sidebar (< over there!) and you should definitely check it out. Cuz I said so.

Per Marquis of Queensbury Rules, I am to carry out the following injunctions:

1) Expose my readers to the randomness of my soul.

2) Supply my nominator with answers to her queries.

3) Impose this honor and task upon others deemed worthy.

4) Notify said worthies.

5) Demand said worthies to expose the randomness of their souls.

6) Give thanks.

Maggie took upon herself three of the eleven demands, so I shall take up the remainder and settle the score. Eight is my favorite number, anyway.

Ahem.

Fit the First: Me

1. I am currently in a rather Carrolline mood at the moment, having just watched “Soul of Genius,” the final episode of the fifth season of the brilliant television series “Lewis” (must see!). This morning, I read “The Hunting of the Snark” and, in the fifteen (or so) minutes it took me, I have concluded that there is no reason to the rhyme, except entertainment,  as with “Jabberwocky” and Wonderland and the Looking Glass and the “Walrus and the Carpenter.” There *is* such a thing as over-analysis. Trust me, I’ve done it.

2. I am not afraid of spiders. Tuna, on the other hand, frightens the heck out of me.

3. The word of the day (according to my “word of the day” peelable desk calendar) for my birthday this year was “transmogrify.” WIN!

4. In order to meet certain fictional characters, I have a bad habit of writing myself into stories as an additional minor character. For example: I love Lord Peter Wimsey. Lord Peter has a nephew who mentions a sister in Gaudy Night — a mention not more than two sentences long, but enough for me to develop a character and personality for a spin-off murder mystery series I began writing in high school … and, like everything else, never finished.

5. If I were a cat, I would have used up five of my nine lives by now.

#6. I have a huge crush on Patrick McGoohan 🙂 (and a lot of other random actors, of course, like any self-respecting fangirl, but he’s so little known, I thought I’d give him a shout-out).

7. Despite my large and loving family, I am an extremely adoptable person. I have been honorarily adopted by distant relatives, friends’ relatives, coworkers, and professors. The jury is still out as to Why.

8. My first car was named Viola Marie Gwendolyn Christie Jane. And like any proper time machine, it was bigger on the inside.

Fit the Second: Maggie’s Quiz

1. Favorite meal to prepare: Ooooh. Well, generally, I’m partial to baking therapy, but cooking … hmmm. Well, there’s this really amazing pasta primavera recipe I have where you saute mushrooms and tomatoes together with some basil and oregano and other herbs (garlic, red pepper flakes, maybe onion powder …?), and I have to say, there is nothing like the smell of mushrooms and tomatoes and herbs in olive oil. Culinary perfection.

2. Influential, inspirational moment in history: Does Middle-Earth history count? No? Ok, well … I guess I can’t pick a moment as much as a hero. Judith in the Old Testament; St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr; St. Edmund Campion, priest, writer, and martyr; St. Thomas More, humanist, writer, and martyr; St. Maxilian Kolbe, priest, prisoner of war, and martyr … I have a penchant for martyrs, I suppose.

3. Wisdom for writers:

a) Write. Read. Repeat. ‘Nuff said (but I’m going to keep talking) …

b) There are two kinds of characters: characters filling a role (you need an aunt character here, or a murder victim there) and characters who create their own roles (who walk into your head and never leave). Be very sure the latter get plenty of attention and “screen-time,” or they will haunt you for the rest of your writing life.

c) Verbs create the sentence. Use verbs.

d) Strunk and White. Read it, know it, sleep with it under your pillow. If you drool on it, buy another copy.

e) Focusing on one story will drain your energy and inspiration. Try bouncing back and forth between multiple projects, so as to refresh those creative juices. It will take you forever and a day to complete anything, but the inspiration will be true.

f) Draw from life. Study the people you know. Use exact and particular details to create atmosphere and flesh out characters.

Fit the Third: Nominees (all listed in the sideboard!) 

1. heredwellsawriter

2. Mere Inkling

3. Jubilare

4. Trial by Teaching

5.The Warden’s Walk

6. Egotist’s Club

7. Lookout for Hope

8. Reflections from the Journey

Fit the Fourth: Queries

1. If you could date a fictional character, whom would it be?

2. If you could travel either forwards or backwards in time, which one, and why?

3. Vanilla, chocolate, or Superman ice cream?

4. If you had to name your children after your family and relatives, which five names would you pick?

5. What one type of food or dish could you eat every day for the rest of your life?

6. If you could be a fictional character, whom would you be?

7. If you could only write one story in your entire writing life, which would it be?

8. If you could change the ending to a favorite story, which would it be?

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Chesterton

Someday, I shall write a grand apologia, spanning decades and daydreams, on Gilbert Keith Chesterton, and why he is, rather more than less, the greatest author of the twentieth century, if not of all time. Meanwhile, I shall expound momentarily and frivolously on my love for the author. Some girls fall for the fictional Gilbert of Anne of Green Gables; I have fallen for the nearly-as-distant yet fascinatingly larger-than-life G. K. C. His brilliance, his brains, his bombasity (bombastickness?), his Britishness — more specifically, and more significantly, his Englishness — caught my attention, gripped it, and never let it go. I have yet to read his biography (I understand Ian Ker’s is rather good? Anyone read it?), but his personality spills out and over every one of his works, overwhelming the reader with the thoughts and words and ideas and impressions that well up from his soul. Do I exaggerate? Possibly. Yes, most likely. But exaggeration is the essence of enthusiasm, is it not?

I began my Chesterton devotion with Father Brown. That bumbling, plebeian,  English-as-umbrellas R. C. priest could talk about paint drying and hold his listeners spellbound; it is Chesterton, of course, who writes the words, but the good Father speaks them entirely on his own. I have always enjoyed a good murder/mystery; from the time I could read, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew paved the way for Lord Peter Wimsey and Miss Marple, who, in their turn, introduced me to Mrs. Polifax and Sherlock Holmes and … oh, all the rest. A good mystery satisfies the soul in a way that no romance could ever attempt to do: the fundamental moral outrage of the taking of a life is conclusively eradicated when a hero exacts contrapassic (contrapasso-esque?) justice from the villain, on behalf of the victim. It is the rush of adrenalin and the resounding “Yes!” that comes with aceing exams and winning rugby tournaments and finally perfecting that meringue recipe.

But I digress. Back to Chesterton.

Father Brown was probably seventh or eighth grade for me. A year or two later, I sat down with “The Everlasting Man” and a pencil. This was the first time I  ever dared take ink to a book: books were sacred. Books were precious. One did not deface the golden words of genius with the shoddy penmanship (and insipid thought) of a teenager. This time, however, my mother suggested I mark it up, as a help or exercise for the paper I was supposed to write. Timidly, I took up the pencil, and I drew a fine line under the first sentence of the introduction.

Ultimately, I marked up the entire book.

From there, the “relationship” took off like a spaceship. His choice of words, his humour, his inconceivably brilliant — I mean, truly astounding paradoxes, his gleeful voice, his joie de vivre … it all added up to one enormous truth: he loved life. He loved his God, he loved his country, he loved his life. And a man with that sort of love cannot be all bad. When he speaks of God, I want to fall to my knees on a marble floor and pray for sheer joy. When he speaks of England, I want to walk Hadrian’s Wall in the pouring rain and eat nothing but mushrooms and cheese along the way. When he speaks of life, I want to grab the next person I find and dance the Virginia Reel until my feet fall off and the music becomes laughter and the stars laugh in the sky.

Words are mighty things. Chesterton knew this, and he knew how to wield that strength.

The last Chesterton work I read was “Manalive,” the best not-meant-to-be-romantic (or is it?) romance I have ever read. If you are not one for non-fiction (“Everlasting Man”), or priests-as-sleuths (Father Brown mysteries), I would cordially recommend an introduction to Chesterton via “Manalive.” You must be prepared to laugh, though, and curl your toes, and appreciate the frivolity of words, as well as their weightiness, and the meaningless things of life, as much as the meaningful. It’s Chesterton, after all.

Hullo!

Please, call me Blue. The “lady” is in imitation of some of my favorite literary characters: Lady Frankie (Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?), Lady Harriet (Wives and Daughters), Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Pride and Prejudice). The “whimsy” is, well, for the sake of whimsy, as well as for another favourite character — indeed, family of characters: the family Wimsey, Dorothy L. Sayers’ brilliant mystery creation. The “blue” happens to be a nickname assigned when I spent a few months in the company of some half-a-dozen other females who shared my first name; we called it coincidence, but who knows what nefarious plot of the troglodytes of Greek mythology might have brought us together.

Rule #1 of this blog: I like words. I’m a bit of a word nerd, in fact. So, when I have recently been spelunking for verbiage, or just returned from a particularly fruitful deep-dictionary diving, you will hear no end of odd, assorted words. I plan to give you a “whimsical word of the week” for your vocabulary-building exercises, and the scattered strangelings I leave in my wake I will highlight for you to peruse and pursue at your leisure. Hence, troglodyte. Look it up.

You might call me mad. Or, obsessed. Some, perhaps, will say “eccentric” or “bored” or “just plain weird.” But, no worries, I answer to “Blue.”

Beyond the square reaches of the grey, windowless cubicle I call work, and the brownish expanse of Midwestern soybean fields I call home, my mind wanders far and wide in search of adventure. Someday-famed author is only one of the many alter-egos I possess and cherish. Moonlighting as a cookie ninja comes a close second. Amateur time-traveller (as of today; who knows what yesterday may bring), fairy godmother-in-training, never-to-be-yet-always-wishful-linguist, and Calvin-and-Hobbesian also appear on my resume. Well, not the resume my boss sees.

But anywho.

Welcome to Blue Whimsy writing 🙂