Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Wednesday 30 April 2014

The Liebster Award part ii

A little while ago Anne Goodwin nominated me for the Liebster Award. I wrote a blog about it. Now the time has come for me to answer the questions that she set for her nominees. They were tough. It was gruelling. It has taken me some time to come up with the answers. I'm not sure I've done a terribly good job. You can be the judge.

What has surprised you most about your blogging experience?

Everything and nothing, and both for the same reason: I began without expectations. That I find things to say is no surprise, but I’m constantly surprised that anyone reads the blog. I’m surprised that, although my manifesto was to write about ‘writing and other stuff’ the ‘other stuff’ seems to have taken over. I’m surprised that so many people agree with what I say and find they have experiences in common, and I'm equally surprised by the volume of antithetical comments. Mostly I’m surprised when people seem not to understand. As a writer it is my intention to be utterly transparent... Of course, in the end, everyone has an agenda and they read everything with that agenda clearly embedded in their consciousness, and sometimes in their unconsciousness too. I guess there’s no surprise there. It can make for some pretty interesting comments, though.

To what extent do you blog for your own entertainment versus for the benefit and/or entertainment of your readers?

I’m not sure I blog for either. I blog to rid myself of the baggage, to ‘clean the pipes’ so that I can get on with the ‘real’ writing. I also blog to write, to work the writing muscles, as an exercise before the writing day begins. That’s not to say that blogging hasn’t become a real pleasure in itself. It has. To write four to six hundred words on a subject is quite a discipline, and a welcome one, and, from time to time, to vent is very satisfying.

If your blog were to come to life, what form would it take?

Wow! Great question. I’m tempted to say ‘performance art’, but I think this is much more about a heated conversation between people who’ve had enough to drink to be frank with one another, but not so much as to become intransigent. I am, by nature, congruent in all my dealings with virtually everyone: what you see is what you get. Blogs allow commenters to be that way too; at least mine does. I keep an open comment section. I don’t moderate comments and I allow all comments to stand. I never do battle with commenters, either. I put my name and face to my blog and I hold the floor; what other people, ie commenters, do is up to them.

How does your blogging voice differ from how you present yourself in “real life”?

It doesn’t. I know this is hard to believe, but people who know me have actually said that one of the reasons they read the blog is that they hear my voice and they believe that what I’m writing is what I would say if I was talking to them or to anyone.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse on your blog?

Oh, good grief, of course, it’s the redundant sub-clause, isn’t it? There you are, you see; that’s what I do. It’s sort of conversational, if you know what I mean. I try not to question too much as I go along, but I invariable end up wondering, to myself, whether I’m making my point, and, indeed, whether I’m believing what I’m telling you... And then, there I go... changing my mind, mid-flow.

Which famous person would you most like to visit your blog, which of your posts would you most like them to read, and why?

I’d be horrified if a famous person visited the blog. Except, of course, that famous people are people too, and people do visit... 20K of them last month. Honestly, I don’t think about who visits the blog. I have no control over any of that. I do publicise the blog. I do tell FaceBook and Twitter when I’ve posted something new, and I do say something about what that might be. I also know that if I use the word ‘snark’ there’s a good chance my visitor numbers will go up a little.

I’ve actually written about famous people. I’ve written blogs about Angelina Jolie, Mark Millar, Stephen Fry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeanette Winterson, Jonathan Ross, Jodie Foster, Nigella Lawson and many others. They can read the blogs I have written about them if they like... Or not. There’s a fair bet that one or two of them are vain enough to read them. I’m betting that one or two of them have google alerts and have ‘people’ who read stuff for them and flag the things they think their celeb ought to read. I’m not sure any of my posts would fit into that category though.

The husband reads the blog. Ian Rankin has read the blog, and so have one or two other writers well-known in their genres. 

Does it matter? Probably not. For someone to read my blog to matter I’d have to believe that I could change his or her mind about something that I believe to be important. For example, it would be easy to say that I’d love Vladimir Putin to read The Gay Gene, but it's an utterly pointless wish.

If you could invite a fictional character to write one of your posts, who would you choose and why?

I think this might be the toughest question of the lot, and I’ve been thinking about it, on and off, for days on end. I still haven’t come up with an answer. 

To invite a fictional character to write a post takes me right into another writer’s head, and there’s my problem. 

There’s so much that I wonder about that one cubic foot of real estate, so little I really know about my own process and the characters that emerge from it.

Oddly, though, I wrote a novel, which is yet to be published, in which the protagonist blogs, and I wrote some of those blogs for the book. It’s not an exercise I’d impose on any writer.

Of course, I realise that you imagine the character to be entire and autonomous, but I struggle to imagine characters as anything but constructs built in the mind of a writer.

Ask me which writer I’d invite to guest on my blog and I might be able to come up with something approaching a response, but a proper answer to this question simply eludes me.

If time and money were no object, where in the world would you like to go to research your next post?

Back into my head.
Look how happy I am to have been
nominated for a Liebster Award!

It’s back to that one cubic foot of real estate for me.

The blog is entirely my thoughts. I wake up in the morning, and, with my first cup of tea beside me, usually still sitting in bed, I grab a laptop and spill out my first thoughts. If I don’t have a blog by the time I’ve drunk the tea I don’t post anything. If I have to get up to catch a train, say, to take a meeting somewhere, I don’t write a blog. If the cat has thrown up in the night and I have to clean it up while I make that cup of tea... who knows, I might not blog... or, better yet, I might find myself blogging about cat vomit. It’s ephemeral. It’s not about time or place or money. I can’t escape my thoughts, but I can transfer them from my head to the pages of my blog. Answering some of the questions for this blog have broken that particular pattern, of course.

As a consumer of blogs, what are the main factors that entice you to read on?

Authenticity. I like to hear a consistent voice from the blogger. That is not to say that I’m not tolerant of contradiction. I contradict myself from one blog to the next. It’s about personality. If the blogger is fascinating then what he or she has to say will suck me in whether the subject is art, writing, gardening, engineering... whatever. I don’t garden and I haven’t got a clue about engineering, but those things matter less than the delivery.

What else do you wish I’d asked you and how would you respond?

Crikey! It was tough enough answering the questions you did ask. Smiles. There are things that I’m rather glad you didn’t ask, though, because it leaves me room to ask the questions that I’m required to set for my nominees. Besides, I’ve got a blog... I get to open a fresh document every day and say anything and everything I want to say.

1 comment:

  1. Brava, Nicola, these are absolutely spiffing answers and I'm still laughing from the last one. Thanks so much for stepping out of your blogging routine to satisfy my curiosity and I look forward to seeing how you choose to pass this on.