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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Five Questions: Mirkwood

1. Why do you blog?
(a) To share thoughts about the things I read with people who have overlapping interests.
(b) To improve my writing skills. This is a continuing struggle. I wish to write clearly, concisely and effectively without having to ramble or rant in order to drive home a point.
(c) To enable myself to keep in touch with an aspect of my daily life (reading) that I am terrified of losing to too much work.

(a) and (b) could be accomplished by having an email discussion, and that was my way prior to blogging. I discovered that not many people in one’s circle of friends wish to read what one has written up with a madman’s fervor, because people have different interests at different times. With blogging, one is relieved of the guilt of having invaded somebody’s (especially a friend’s) mailbox because only a willing reader will bother to visit. Further, a blogger’s potential audience is immeasurably larger and more multi-faceted than any email list can hope to be.

2. Which author and/or book has most influenced you?
Bertrand Russell’s books on philosophy, mathematics, and social commentary have been most influential in shaping my way of approaching a subject, and of describing it to myself and to others. His language was always crystal clear whether he was discussing religion, or symbolic logic or the upbringing of children. The “Three passions” page at the beginning of his autobiography is something that I return to very often.

In school, I was influenced strongly but temporarily by the harsh heroism in Ayn Rand’s novels; that fascination was tempered after reading a couple of biographies which illuminated serious flaws in her philosophy and personality.

3. Which three blogs do you most visit?
I started blogging on my own less than a year ago, and a very busy year it has been! Consequently, I do not find time to visit too many blogs. Here are the ones I read quite often (needless to say, all are on my blogroll):
(a) A Work in Progress at: (
(b) Maud Newton at: (
(c) John Baker’s Blog at: (

4. Why do you read fiction?
I read fiction:
(a) For love of an unusual experience, even if it is a vicarious one and is lived by someone else.
(b) For love of language, because fiction allows language to roam free, much more so than non-fiction.
(c) Out of the self-centered and perhaps foolish view that, by generalizing and deriving the essence from the available cornucopia of people, experiences, histories, triumphs, and failures, I might become a better person.
(d) As a change from the fairly large amount of very technical non-fiction that I read (and write) at school.

5. What makes you laugh?
Many things. I laugh quite easily. But this smattering might be indicative:
(a) The image of Marvin the paranoid android switching himself off.
(b) My sister’s mimicry of characters from the Lord of the Rings films.
(c) Humorous character portraits from the late P.L. Deshpande, that highlight the absurdities in life and the uniqueness of the people who deal with them.
(d) Arundhati Roy’s evil little story in The God of Small Things, in which an old woman criticizes Estha and Rahel for their habit of pronouncing words backward, and then dies after being knocked down by a vehicle that is backing up.
(e) Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

Polaris blogs at Mirkwood, which can be found here: (

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