Being relatively new to the world of blogging, I can say with the utmost honesty that I’ve really been enjoying myself. I’ve always loved to write and I’ve certainly always loved talking about comic books. So putting the posts for My Comic Relief together is a lot of fun. It’s been a rewarding activity too. However, I certainly wasn’t ready for the surprise and honor of having found out I’d been nominated for a Liebster Award!
The Liebster Award goes back to 2011 (as far as my Internet research told me) and is a way to recognize new blogs that are just starting out and have yet to amass a huge following. For me, one of the most special things about the award is those nominated then have to pass it on, to other blogs they consider to be deserving (more on that below!). It intentionally takes the format of a chain letter or something like that and turns it into something wildly worthwhile – a way to honor and celebrate talent. I’m all for paying things forward so I think this is fantastic!
Another amazing thing I’ve encountered since entering the blogging community is how excited, supportive, and accepting everyone is. I find the great delight I take in reading other’s work is by far the rule, not the exception. The fact that this award grows out of that is a beautiful thing. I can’t adequately express how honored I feel to have been recognized in such a way, especially for being so new to this.
With the award, each nominated blogger is asked to answer questions about themselves (questions posed by the one doing the nominating) so we can all learn a little bit more about each other along the way. So it’s not just about recognition but building community too.
Before we go any further, let’s talk about the rules. According to what I’ve learned through my nominations (and a little web research) the nominated blog must:
1) Thank the blogger who nominated them.
2) Answer the eleven questions they gave you.
3) Nominate up to eleven other bloggers yourself (the rules vary online, ranging from saying the nominated blog should have < 200 followers while some say < 1,000. I tried to stay around the 200 mark.
4) Let those other bloggers know in a comment on one of their pieces that you’ve nominated them.
5) Provide those bloggers with eleven questions of your own for them to answer.
6) Lastly, it’s considered good form to post an image of the award too.
Once you’ve run through those steps, you’re a Liebster Award winning blog! Aaahh, it was such an exciting moment when I saw that comment! So, without further adieu, let’s begin!
Thank you Just Dread-Full for my Liebster Award nomination! This was a surprise and honor of the highest order. It really touched me. Thank you for honoring my writing in this way. It was a wonderful gift and I’ll try to do it justice!
Now, on the questions!
1) I started my blog on a whim, after making an off-handed comment to my boyfriend. What prompted you to start your blog?
It was a combination of the urging (both my girlfriend’s and mom’s) and the fact that I really enjoy writing. I’ve contributed articles to a few other blogs in the past and it’s always been lot of fun. I like the process of writing. I like talking about things that I’m passionate about. And of course it’s fun to see what people online respond to with your writing. This was a fun way to let all of those loves fall together. Also, Kalie and Mom both get to say they were right because I’m loving being a blogger.
2) Blogging is, well, writing for fun. As an English teacher, I know that many people don’t consider writing fun (and others certainly do). What inspired you to do your blogging work?
It is a lot of fun for me. I would fall into that group. I don’t set any sort of benchmarks for myself about when or what to publish, I just sort of role with it. My mind is almost always running and deconstructing things. I’m not certain why, but somewhere along my academic journey that became my sort of default setting. So having this venue to write about a genre/topic I adore whenever I feel like it is both freeing and exciting. I mean, sometimes you need to say things about Spider-Man and the world needs to hear them right?!? Now I can do that!
3) How did you choose the theme of your blog? (Or, why are you writing about the topics you’re writing about?)
I’ve loved comic books and superheroes for as long as I can remember. As I’ve grown up, my fascination with them has grown with me. Now, in addition to seeing the fun and excitement in these stories, I also appreciate their role in our culture as modern myths, with all the religious and symbolic purpose that comes along with mythology. Given how much time I spend thinking (and talking) about these topics, it seemed an appropriate focus for this nerdy little writing venture.
4) What sorts of projects (writing or otherwise) are you involved in outside of blogging?
I’m a high school theology teacher, presently teaching courses in Religions of the World (focusing on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism), the Catholic Tradition (focusing on church history and social justice), Christianity and Popular Culture (deconstructing spiritual themes and symbolic meanings in secular work), the Theology of Love and Evil (exploring the BIG questions of existence), Atom & Eve (looking at the healthy relationship that should exist between science and theology), and Star Wars and Contemporary Myth-Making (where we explore the ramifications Star Wars has had on our contemporary culture from a mythic viewpoint as well as how we go about (correctly and incorrectly) constructing a modern myth such as this). On a more fun/personal note, I love to read (comics (of course) as well as literature and nonfiction) and go to the movies as often as possible. Sitting around and engaging in great conversation with family and friends (especially at my favorite coffee shop, Coffee Culture) is always a plus too.
5) What are some issues or causes that are important to you, any why?
As a theology teacher who talks a lot about social justice issues in class, I’ll try to keep this short. I don’t want to accidentally fall into a lengthy rant here :). The causes closes to my heart are ending poverty (at home and abroad), curbing our thoughtless environmental degradation, forging full and true inclusion/equality of everyone, and ending the idolatrous love of guns (and the deaths they bring) in the United States. They are all important (again, sparring a rant) for the same reason. We are created to live in loving harmony with each other – it’s our biological design and our spiritual call. We can’t do that with these issues dividing us.
6) Who is your favorite movie hero/heroine, and why?
Hmmm…this is a tricky one. There are so many great characters to choose from! If I have to choose (and for the sake of this question I totally will), I’d go with Luke Skywalker. I’ve always loved Star Wars. And of all the films, Return Of The Jedi has always been my favorite. In the film, Luke Skywalker presents a very different notion of a hero by rejecting violence for nonviolence and being a force of redemption, hope, and love. I loved him as a kid for his lightsaber and piloting skills. I love him as an adult for what he represents.
7) Who is your favorite movie villain, and why?
Without question or hesitation this goes to Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 masterpiece The Dark Knight. The Joker, as a character, represents evil and chaos without conscience or cause. I can never think of any villain in any medium who is more frightening than the Joker. Heath Ledger’s vision was perfect and deserving of his posthumous Oscar award. There have been many wonderful visions of the Clown Prince of Crime but Heath Ledger presented him as the face of evil incarnate and his performance was the stuff of nightmares.
8) What is one book that you think everyone should read, and why? Or, if you don’t have a book that you think everyone should read, what’s one of your favorite?
This is another answer that comes to mind easily, without thought or deliberation – Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I love Coelho’s writing and I return to it often. I’ve read every novel the man’s written. He understands the truth and beauty of life and expresses it such an accessible way. If ever there was an enlightened soul seeking to guide us through literature, it’s Coelho. The Alchemist is a book that can be read in a few hours but forever stays with the reader. I return to it at least once a year, always taking more from it. No matter how often I read Coelho, I always find what I need to hear in his words.
9) What is a particular piece of music that moves you, and why?
Bruce Springsteen’s live version of “Thunder Road” from his 1975 performance at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. This has always been my favorite Springsteen song and here, with only his vocals over the piano chords (and sparring bit of harmonica) the emotion of the lyrics takes hold of me in a powerful way. He seems to simultaneously grasp both the desperation and boundless hope that comes with the pursuit of love. This it seems to say, is love. It’s scary and it seems like it has to be now-or-never, but even in the fear and the rejections there is the very real chance of redemption and transformation.
10) Describe a challenge you’ve faced or currently face as a writer.
I’m sure this is a common challenge but it’s often translating the feelings in my head to the right set of words on my page. Sometimes it flows easily and I never even think about it. But other times I go through countless drafts (rarely for anything on the blog – here I don’t second guess myself as much – more often than not it’s if I’m trying to write something important for my students or some sort of writing in that vein) and nothing seems to come close to approximating those feelings I’m trying to convey.
11) Is there a principle or philosophy that guides your writing? If so, what is it?
There is a quote, from Viktor Frankl’s magnificent book Man’s Search for Meaning that has always been very important to me. It’s framed on my desk at work and I try to let it inform as many of my life decisions as I can. While my writing may not always reflect it to the degree I wish it could, I hope it informs my writing in the same way I try to let it guide my life. The quote is, “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”
Now we’ve reached the exciting part! Here are my nominees for the Liebster Award! Each is a blog that I look forward to reading regularly. I find these blogs’ content, writing style, layout, and/or all of the above to be exceptional. I would strongly encourage anyone who is reading this to look into these blogs! From what I’ve read, they’ll be well worth your time to check out (and maybe you can even follow them too!). They all deal with literature, life, and writing in one way or another.
Last but not least, here are the questions I’d like my above nominated blogs to answer! I hope you accept your nomination. Know that this was a careful process of discernment on my part and I was honored to pass along this honor and share it with all of you.
1) What is one of your earliest/happiest book-related (be it comic or otherwise) memories?
2) Is there an author you’ve found whose work resonates deeply with you? Why do you connect so with what they have to say?
3) What is the point of literature (again, comic and/or otherwise) in your life? What do you get from reading?
4) Why is your blog focused on the topics you’ve chosen? If you can write about anything, why this?
5) Do you hold yourself to any sort of schedule as a writer (for example, you must write a little every day or do a post every week) or do you just write when you feel so moved? Why is this your chosen path?
6) What role do you think illustrations play (as always, speaking in regard to comic books specifically or other forms of literature as well) in telling a story?
7) Name one story (however you’d like to define that term) that’s been important to your life and discuss why.
8) Name one character you’ve encountered that’s been particularly important to you and discuss why.
9) I’ve always felt that writing is important. But, given the many, many options for sharing your thoughts and opinions in the Internet age, why do you write as opposed to vlogging or simply tweeting or sharing music or any of the other options out there?
10) Has there been anything challenging about blogging since you’ve started writing for an online audience?
11) Lastly, what have you found to be the most rewarding part of blogging since you began your writing venture?
I’d like to send one more warm thank you out to Just Dread-Full for their support! I hope all of my nominees feel as honored by my nominating them as I did when I found out that I had received mine.