Bloggers You Must Follow – My Versatile Blogger Award Nominations

Until the amazing and wonderful Willow Becker nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award, I had no idea what the award was. (I’m still learning my way through all ways Twitter and Blogosphere.)

If you are in a similar ignorant state about the VBA, you can learn about the Versatile Blogger Award here.

I’m honored that Willow would consider my blog worthy of mention, and even more honored that she’s a fan of my work. Willow, like many of our mutual writing friends, has been gracious and encouraging as I’ve edged my way online, and I’m humbled to be part of such an amazing community of fellow scribes. Check out her site here.

She also collaborates with fellow writer Amy Good on Twitter’s Friday Phrases project. If you’re not taking part, either as fan or contributor, please join the fun. Thank you, Willow, for all that you do!

Below are my nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award. Among them you will find spark, verve, humor, courage, range, authenticity and depth. Twitter introduced me to many of them, and now reading their blogs has become an essential part of my life. Read their blogs, follow them on Twitter. Your life will be better for it. Enjoy!


Lori Lesko:

Michelle Gordon:

Stewart Kirby:

Rachel Karp:

Christina Z:

Callie Armstrong:

Joanne Blaikie:

Monday Tuesday WTF:

Jessica West:

Abigail Nussbaum:

Sheena Greer:


Taylor Eaton:

Eve Jacob:

Olivia Hinebaugh:


7 Things About Me (My Favorite Topic)

So…the final part of this award demands that I confess to Willow seven things she, and the rest of you, might not know. I doubt there are seven items, but I’ll give it a go.

1.       I am allergic to just about everything that grows in the Pacific Northwest. And yet I continue to live here. And I love living here, although it’s painful. There’s a theme there.

2.       I’m constantly amazed that someone who thought he’d live alone has a wife who—amazingly—puts up with him, and two sons who continue to listen to him when the mood suits them to do so. I feel both blessed and frightened beyond reason that I love my family, and they love me back.

3.       I’m an unabashed U2 fan. (Although I still can’t forgive them for All That You Can’t Leave Behind – a creative misfire from which their music still hasn’t fully recovered) It’s telling that when the shit hits the proverbial fan, theirs is the music I go to first.

4.       I play the drums. I play them poorly, but I play them when I have the time. If I could play in a 70s style soul band, I’d be the happiest crappy drummer in the world.

5.       I have a philosophers spirit but not the temperament (I get pissed off far too easily), which is why fiction writing suits me. If fiction isn’t asking the Big Questions (even if it’s in small ways) then I’m not interested. If fiction isn’t provoking emotions, I’m even less interested.

6.       I once had thick, blond hair that was the envy of men and women alike. My hairline is no longer the envy of anyone.

7.       Poetry is the highest form that the written word can take. Nothing NOTHING is as sublime as that perfect poem (we know them when we read them). Poetry is long overdue to take over the interwebs because electronic media is the perfect vehicle for the form. Poetry shall rise again! (And yes, I write my own frail scraps of verse, and no, I won’t be sharing those scraps because they suck.)

There you go. Thanks again to Willow Becker for the Versatile Blogger nomination. Willow, you are a creative force of nature, and we all bask in your awesomeness. And thanks to those whom I’ve nominated for enriching my life with your words. You are all fabulous.

The Truth Isn't What It Is and That Is True

The musician Amanda Palmer has a wonderful blog post this week that details the experiences of her and her husband, writer Neil Gaiman, while he wrote his most recent novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Besides being an honest and intimate view of a marriage between artists (aspects of which are true for any marriage, really), she provides one of the better metaphors for describing to what degree an artist reveals himself/herself within a given work of art.

To paraphrase badly: Artists with a lower 'art-blender' setting reveal identifiable chunks and recognizable auto-biographical pieces, while artists who set the blender higher shred and spin those auto-biographical pieces so that discerning what is personal and what is auto-biographical from what is imagined is very, very difficult.

I've been struggling to come up with a better metaphor or a better simile, and I can't. The 'art-blender' image has stuck. Check out Amanda Palmer's blog.

One thing that occurs, while thinking about my own fiction, is that even when we know--even when I know--the autobiographical source for a scene or a description within one of my pieces, the through-line from idea to what survives on the page is circuitous at best. We are all guilty of assuming that we can pluck out auto-biography from an artist's work. (Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air, who is a fantastic interviewer, almost always deep dives from fictional work into writer's psyche with zero hesitation; while I like this as reader/listener--who doesn't like a narrative? who doesn't want a quick answer for why something is so--as a writer, I kind of hate it.)  

I kind of hate it because the origins and causality are so twisted. To use an easy, pop-culture-y example: we know Bruce Wayne became Batman because a street thug killed his parents right in front of him. A + B = Dark Knight. But it wasn't so simple. There are a lot of variables both within the boy/man and the situation -- not the least of which is the bat that swoops into Wayne's window right when he was searching for the proper symbol to best affect the psychology of the criminals he intends to hunt. The bat has little to do with the fact that Bruce watched his parents die when he was a boy. The bat came from somewhere else; either from within Bruce himself or from the shadows. We don't know where or why, and that's awesome.

Mystery--the bat that swoops in at the right moment--will always appear in someone's artistic work. Even when an artist sets her blender on 1, she will still keep herself from being wholly revealed. I think this is why so many of us take on our artistic endeavors; we throw our (often uninteresting) biographies at the 'art-blender,' and we never fail to yield a strange, compelling concoction that keeps us doing it again and again. In fact, I think one of the reasons many of us become artists is because for brief spurts of time, we make ourselves unrecognizable to ourselves. And sometimes, a bat crashes through the window to remind us that the world is a strange, unknowable place. 

I set my 'art-blender' on about 6, by the way. Or at least I think I do.