A Versatile Blogger Award, Breaking More Rules . . . and a Thank-You

It seems hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for close to three years now.  I remember vividly making the decision, in the summer of 2012, to create a blog devoted to my then-upcoming novel, The Eye-Dancers.  With those first tentative steps, little did I realize how joining the WordPress community would add to my life and enable me to make many friends from around the world.

And that still impresses me, amazes me, even.  You have to remember that I am old-school, having grown up in the ’80s and gone to college in the ’90s . . . my generation was the last one to come of age in a world sans email and chat rooms and social media and smartphones.  So it still astounds me that we have such reach today, such an ability, such a platform–literally, a worldwide audience.  Children growing up today likely take this digitalization of our world for granted.  To them a smartphone is no more extraordinary than the mail would have been to me in 1989.

1980s

 

So for this lifelong reader, writer, classic movie lover, comic book aficionado, and Twilight Zone enthusiast, the WordPress community has been a tremendous blessing–right from day one.  And it’s with great appreciation and gratitude that I accept the nomination of the Versatile Blogger Award from Melissa at Today, You Will Write. For those of you not familiar with Melissa’s fabulous blog, please take a virtual trip over there.  You will be glad you did!

I actually was nominated for the Versatile Blogger award some twenty-six months ago, but I wanted to accept again so I could thank Melissa for nominating me and also thank everyone for all your support (more on this at the end of this post!).  Additionally, the rules for this award have changed a little since March of 2013, and I wanted to take a stab at it.  (Not that I follow rules when it comes to blogging awards!)

Speaking of, here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award with links to their blogs.
  • Finally, post 7 things about yourself. (Answer the questions from the person who nominates you, and then ask 7 of your own.)
  • Also remember to add the Versatile Blogger image to your post.

https://theywalkthenight.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/versatile-blogger.jpg?w=535

Here are the seven questions Melissa asked, and which I now will answer . . .

1. Who is your favourite author or what is your favourite book?

It’s very tough to choose just one!  As for authors, I can’t really say I have a favorite–there are so many!  Two, however, who have always served as inspirations are Ray Bradbury for his enthusiasm, imagination, and heart; and Truman Capote for his skill and talent–a master wordsmith if there ever was one.

A favorite book?  Very difficult to choose just one.  But if I absolutely had to, I would probably say To Kill a Mockingbird.

tokillamockingbird

 

2. If you had a super power what would it be?

I’m not sure it’s a super power, but I would probably choose a photographic memory.  I’ve always been keenly aware of all the things I forget.  It strikes me that, if you think about your life, probably 99% of it is forgotten.  Granted, much of it is trivial–what did you have for supper on June 17, 1999?  What time did you go to bed on February 7, 2006?  Even so, it seems sad that we forget so much.

3. If you could produce a movie, which one would you choose?

The Eye-Dancers of course!

eyedancers

 

4. How has WordPress helped you to become a better writer?

This is a great question, and I think the answer is–the regular (or, for me these days, semi-regular!) posting of articles.  Maintaining a blog forces you to come up with (hopefully) original, creative posts on a fixed schedule.  You can’t just wait until you feel inspired or when the spirit moves you.  If you want to maintain something of a steady schedule, you have to write posts on a regular basis.  This steady need to come up with original material has been a wonderful way for me to exercise my creative writing muscles.  They are no longer permitted, since I’ve joined WordPress, to get flabby or out of shape!

5. What fun thing do you do to keep yourself from burning out?

Nothing cheers me up like watching reruns of, well, Cheers or The Honeymooners, or reading a corny old comic book.  And when a physical release is needed, I have always felt at home on the tennis court.

cheers

sa161

 

6. When you were a child, what did you want to become?

For a very brief period, I toyed with the idea of becoming a marine biologist, and there was a time I wanted to be a detective, but for the most part, I have always wanted to be a writer.

7. If you could live anywhere in the world where would you go?

Right where I am–living in the hills of Vermont!  A close second would be Prince Edward Island, Canada, the most beautiful place I’ve ever experienced.

pei

 

Now it’s my turn to ask seven questions for anyone who wants to accept this award.  Yes, it’s rule-breaking time!  Rather than nominate fifteen bloggers, I want to nominate everyone who follows The Eye-Dancers website!  I hope very much that some of you will accept this nomination and delve into the following questions . . .

1. You have the opportunity to step into a time machine and choose any destination you want: past or future.  When and where would you go?

timemachine

 

2. When you were growing up, did you have an idol?  If so, who was it?

3. You have three choices, and only three:  you can watch either a 007 movie, an Alfred Hitchcock classic, or a reality TV show.  Which one do you watch?

dialmformurder

 

4. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

5. What is something about you (it could be a hobby, interest, talent–anything) that most of your friends would be surprised to learn?

6. If money were not an object and you could do anything you wanted for a career or profession, what would you do?

7. There are three items on the table in front of you (only three!):  a chocolate bar, a Stephen King paperback, and a Rubik’s Cube.  Which of these do you reach for?

rubikscube

To conclude, I wanted to thank everyone who has visited, supported, and read The Eye-Dancers blog.  Without your interest and participation these past three years, this blog would not exist today.  Admittedly, I am not posting as often as I once did, as I continue to work on the sequel to The Eye-Dancers (which now, at long last, is close to having an official title!), but my appreciation for all of you is as strong as ever.  You are the reason I enjoy blogging as much as I do.  Hopefully the best is yet to come.

thankyou

Thank you so much for reading these scribblings of mine all these many months!

–Mike

When the Lilacs Bloom

Spring, in my neck of the woods, is easily the most longed-for season of the year.

All too often, however, spring is like a bashful pixie, a reluctant, shy, embarrassed late-arrival to the all-season party where winter dominates the proceedings and monopolizes the conversation. Eventually, though, as the pages of the calendar flip forward, day by day, we reach the month of May, when spring finally unfurls its plumage, the self-consciousness gone, the reticence of March and April a forgotten thing.

pixie

 

Almost overnight, it seems, grasses that were yellow and brown turn a rich, verdant green.  Buds appear, as if by magic, on the trees.  Colorful grosbeaks and bobolinks return to the area, and the year-round songbirds sing louder and longer, as if basking in the long-awaited, nearly forgotten warmth.

grosbreak

 

And. perhaps most spectacular of all, May is when the lilacs bloom . . .

This weekend, I will take the seven-hour drive from Vermont, my adopted state for the past eleven years, “back home” to Rochester, New York.  I’ll visit my parents, my brothers and sister, extended family, and old friends.  I look forward to it.  It is always nice visiting my roots, inspirations, the people and places who have been there for me from the beginning.

rochester

 

And, time permitting, I will also make a point to see the lilacs.

Rochester has long been nicknamed the Flower City, and no time of the year embodies this more than the month of May, and no single piece of real estate more so than Highland Park.

highlandp

 

Situated on the city’s south side, Highland Park is home to the largest collection of lilac bushes in the United States, boasting more than 500 varieties of lilacs and 1,200 plants in all, bedecked on a green hillside that spans 22 acres.  Every May, for a span of ten days, the park hosts the Lilac Festival. It’s an enormous event, bringing in more than 500,000 visitors from around the world.

lilacfest

 

For me, though, I most enjoy the park early in the morning, before the food and craft stands open, before the crowds gather–when there is still dew on the grass and when you can listen, without interruption, to your thoughts and luxuriate in the heady fragrance of the lilacs.

lilacs1

 

lilacs2

 

I savor it, savor them, drinking them in because I know they will be gone within a fortnight, the delicate petals fallen, the purples and pinks and lavenders stripped away, the color show over and done until the same time next year.  It always seems sad that such a magnificent display should be so brief, such a bounty so fleeting.

highlandsummer

 

Perhaps it is.  But it also serves as a reminder.

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Have you ever been struck by an idea, something so inspired, so riveting, so full of life and vitality that you instantly knew you had to let it out?  Maybe it was a concept for a short story, or a new focus for a novel.  Maybe it was a poem, gift-wrapped, arriving in total, the lines and rhythms dancing before your eyes like gemstones.  Maybe it was a landscape or a street scene for you to paint, the contours, shadows, and nuances perfectly clear in your mind’s eye.  Maybe it was a tactic, an approach, a way to sway your audience or win the approval of your coworkers on a long-debated and polarizing project.

gems

 

Moments like these are energizing, and often hit us without warning, a creative bolt from the blue, as it were.  They are as invigorating as they are rare.

boltfromblue

 

Sure, ideas strike every day.  But how many of them make you stop what you’re doing mid-thought, or distract to the point where you forget the supper in the oven or fail to see that red light switch over to green (the motorist behind you will certainly let you know should this happen–and yes, I speak from experience!)?  I know for me, such ideas only occur infrequently, and there is no way of guessing when they will come.

redgreen

 

I’ve tried to figure it all out.  Is there something specific I tend to do that might encourage the best ideas to strike?  Is there a certain TV show or movie I should watch?  Maybe a book I should read?  Or maybe a particular food . . . perhaps a “creativity diet” that exists, a certain combination of vegetables, starches, and nuts that assures at least one winning idea per day?

creativediet

 

But if there’s a secret magic formula, I’ve yet to discover it.  The muse strikes when it will, a capricious, fickle thing, as inscrutable as the undiscovered wonders at the bottom of the sea or the farthest reaches of space.

farthestreaches

 

The truth is, those earth-shattering ideas that rock my creative world and send paradigm shifts running through every page of a manuscript are as rare and transitory as the lilacs that grace Highland Park for a fortnight every spring.  And maybe that’s as it should be–for all of us.  If they struck every day, they would no longer be special, no longer demand our attention and make us take notice.  They’d become ordinary, just another check mark on the to-do lists of our lives.  “Brush teeth, check.  Make breakfast, check.  Pick up groceries, check.  Pay the bills, check.  Be inspired by fabulous, Pulitzer-Prize-worthy idea, check.”

pulitzer

 

As tempting as it sounds (especially in those seasons of writer’s block) to have an ideas-on-demand app that we could tap into anytime we want, I kind of like it the way it is now.  Not everything should be so convenient and easy.  Some things are meant to be special.

Like Highland Park in the month of May . . .

ilacsend1

 

. . . when the lilacs bloom.

lilacsend2

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

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