To reiterate, I don’t do blog awards. But occasionally I like to see what questions are asked and answer them for my own amusement. And maybe yours too!
Blogger Jean Lee (of Jean Lee’s World) posed a handful of interesting queries for recipients of the Liebster award. Yours truly came up with these rather shifty responses.
What would you consider to be your earliest creative work that foreshadowed the passion to come?
Easy. Soon after I began learning the piano — from a Russian émigrée in Hong Kong — I’d progressed enough to compose my first piano piece, a waltz in Fmajor. This was around 1955, when I’d be six, going on seven. I never fulfilled that Mozartian precosity subsequently but I have since completed the odd original score, mainly miniatures, for piano, chamber ensemble or choir.
If you could gain your favorite living artist’s permission to create an homage of their work (for example, writing a fan fic story with your favorite character), who would you approach and what character would you write with?
This is terrifying, so terrifying I’d never ever contemplate it. So, if I could skew the question, I’d go with Jane Austen, who’s been gone a couple of centuries now. It’s possible to read her published novels and, using clues from the years she wrote them in, to draw up plausible chronologies of events in the novels. If it hasn’t already been done I’d complete a grand masterplan of who did what, and where and when, and then imagine the characters interacting. How cool would that be? What would Lizzie Bennett say to Emma, what would Willoughby think of Henry Crawford, would Fanny Price get on with Catherine Morland?
I’m always looking for strategies to fight back the distractions. How do you focus yourself in the Sea of Life’s noise to create?
I try to not have my mobile phone to hand all the time, social media being modern life’s greatest distraction, and I never ever take it up to bed with me. I do take it when I go for walks but mainly for its camera function, as I post a ‘carefully crafted’ Instagram photo most days. When I’m blogging I’m totally focused on that. The white heat of creativity, don’t you know…
What are the three most inspirational places you’ve ever visited?
Tough call, this. I’m a culture vulture so I’d go for cities — Florence, Paris, maybe Edinburgh — and the riches they contain, architectural, artistic, historical, cultural. Otherwise it’d be mountains and coast — the Alps, Pembrokeshire or the Gower in Wales, Vancouver Island, just to pluck some place names at random.
Time for the dead artists now! If you could sit down for a cuppa or a pint with any dead artist, who would it be and why?
One of the Breughels (father or son), or Bosch. Just for the intricacy of their paintings: so much to see, so much to ask about. I’d just hope they weren’t taciturn types!
What’s one stereotype people always apply to you because of who you are/where you’re from?
When I was a classroom music teacher lots of people, many of whom should have known better, assumed (a) I played a lot of instruments (really, piano’s my only thing) and (b) I knew every composer’s oeuvre, and especially the composer of the tune they were humming, even if it was off key. The answer to both enquiries was inevitably ‘No’.
If there’s one book on craft in your passion you’d recommend to every fellow artist in your field, what would it be?
David Lodge’s The Art of Fiction (reviewed here): everything you need to know about how great fiction works, told intelligently.
Favorite grilled food?
We don’t have a grill, but when we did it was cheese toast. As we live in Wales I suppose I should say Welsh rabbit. By the way, no rabbits are harmed in the making of this dish as it’s an aspersion the English cast on their neighbours’ supposed lack of sophistication. As is the supposed back formation ‘rarebit’. The French apparently just call it le Welsh.
What’s your favorite Disney film? No, Pixar doesn’t count.
I’m not a Disney fan, particularly, but I’m going for three different films here. Animation? The original Fantasia (though I haven’t seen the sequel) because it was so inventive. Live action? Saving Mr Banks, for all that it’s as schmaltzy as the Mary Poppins film it riffs on. Mixed live action and CGI? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, though I’m not a C S Lewis fan either.
And speaking of films, what’s one movie you’re kind of embarrassed to admit you like, but you just can’t help yourself?
I’m not ashamed to admit to liking any film, but some adults are sniffy at anything fantasy, animated or orientated towards children. I’m going for all three categories with My Neighbour Totoro, as I’m unashamedly sentimental. If you haven’t seen it yet then do yourself a favour.
And now a couple of questions Jean had herself been given to answer:
Cat, dog, or other?
We have a cat. That’s enough. And she’s getting very demanding in her old age. I shall be devastated when she goes, but there are times when …
If your home was on fire and you could only save one book, which would it be?
Most books are replaceable. Or available from a library somewhere. If I couldn’t save them all it would be sad but not a disaster. A disaster would be losing a loved one, would be an awful accident to another human being.
If you had to choose one of your current projects to tell a group of strangers about, what would it be?
Hmmm. Would it be that definitive book about the Arthurian myth which I took copious notes on for a decade or two and which I often consider resurrecting? Would it be the Certificate in Creative Writing that I’m studying for in termly modules? Could it be my good intentions to improve my piano technique for continuing concert engagements with Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra?
No, I’m plumping for staying alive a bit longer so as to share good times with my partner, see our kids do well and enjoy our grandkids growing up. And maybe see a kinder world emerge in place of the looming disasters that threaten to engulf us all.
I’m not awarding awards to any awardees, you’ll be pleased to know. But if you feel you’d like to share your answers to any or all of these questions I for one would be interested. Truly!