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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Five Questions: Self-Winding

1. Why do you blog?
I started because, for a time, I was caught fast at home and it brought me the outside world. Now I can’t seem to stop. Though sometimes tiresome, the exercise of regular writing brings discipline and creative pleasure. It is admittedly a quest for audience approval and its thread of journalism rather pleasantly alters perceptions of daily life. To blog validates one’s participation in the blogs of others.

2. Which author and/or book has most influenced you?
Shakespeare (though I did consider the twin polarities of St Paul and Frances Hodgson Burnett!). WS gave me my teenage breakthrough to the wonder of metaphor, of apposite language. His work puts the chance of miraculous performances in the hands of actors and I have seen my share. Listening to voices such as Gielgud’s explore the beauty of his verse has given me enormous pleasure. He is my complete package – read, act, study, sing, quote, watch.
I have read Eliot’s The Waste Land a thousand times and still go back to it. It took me deeper into poetry than I had been before and I regard it as a key piece in my reading. A challenging tissue of elaborate literary embroidery if ever there was one. I derive from it both delight in the imagery (‘bats with baby faces in the violet light’) and a librarianly challenge in chasing up its complex allusions (though now they seem a mite pretentious).

3. Which three blogs do you most visit?
Big n’juicy at:

Dick Jones’ Patteran Pages at:

F*R*L (No longer available)

4. Why do you read fiction?
For years novels were plankton that I trawled with open gills; odd weekly diets of Attwood, Allende, Rendell and Rankin. I found eventually that I was retaining very little nourishment, simply using them to go somewhere else for a while. I switched to biography, travel, social commentary, feeling that they gave more grist. Now I’m becoming a fiction recidivist, anxious to be told stories again. I have been stockpiling the recommendations of friends – Roth, Proulx and a list of many names unread. I suppose the central thing that one seeks is the mental snap that comes when a novelist’s style fits exactly to one’s literary taste. And escape, of course.

5. What makes you laugh?
Wit, puns, wry observations of life. But the pinnacle, amazingly, was a four-hour virtuoso performance by Ken Dodd, by which I was made quite ill with too much laughter.

Anna Scott blogs at Self-Winding, which can be found here:

2 Responses to “Five Questions: Self-Winding”

  1. Anna says:

    John, do tell how much this exercise has bumped up your hits. Being one of the later inclusions, I know I checked in more regularly just to see if I was on. A good wheeze.
    It has been an enjoyable series.

    jb says: Hi Anna. It’s good you’ve enjoyed the series. There are still a few more issues to come. And it’s been good for me, not necessarily in statistics, but certainly in terms of making contact with others and learning about their preferences. The original idea was just to give me something to post when I was away on an extended jaunt in the summer, out of reach of technology. But more people wanted to contribute than I originally estimated.

    I can’t tell you about hits, etc. As it’s not something I count. I suppose if you want to attract advertising, etc. then that kind of thing becomes important, but I don’t want advertisers looking at my site. Nevertheless, I suppose you’re right, that more people came back looking. Sometimes the site seems very busy.

    Wheeze is a great word, isn’t it? “Very like the cough of a horse.” (Dickens). Or, whoever it was said, “The furthest contraction of the glottis.” And in theatrical slang, a repeated trick or dodge. Perhaps you’ve just invented a new way of using it, particular only to blogging?

  2. Anna says:

    I’m not much into stats either, but it’s consoling occasionally to confirm that the odd reader drops in, not just Google hits.

    I thought that the lovely wheeze came from Buckeridge’s Jennings books, his idea of a jolly good idea. I found this in a glossary on a French (?!) Jennings fan page:

    A perfectly watertight wheeze (un plan parfaitement étanche) harebrained
    wheeze (plan insensé) jolly good wheeze (vâchement bon truc), wheeze revient souvent.

    I like that,vachement b.t. I think I’ll start using it.