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Blogiversary, Awards, And A Blog of Note


I was still in work when I discovered a present for my blog. It will take a bit of time to sink in… but Los Cuadernos de Julia is now officially among Google’s Blogs of Note. I feel… something like what Gavin Hood must have felt when he won an Oscar in 2006. He won for Tsotsi, but some may better know him for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I did an interview with him in January 2006, and before then I also did an interview with Mark Rothemund, and together they were in the shortlist in Best Foreign Film category. Hood won. I gulped watching him accepting the award on TV. “For Africa!”, he proclaimed. (Having been born in Russia, I may very well say “For Russia!”) Immediately after the ceremony I felt compelled, in a good way, to send my congratulations to Gavin. I didn’t know his email, so I traced the address of his manager and sent my greetings that way. Hood came back a few days later, saying something along the lines of “Thank you! It’s a crazy time but wonderfully crazy“.

Indeed, it’s a wonderfully crazy time for me now. A huge thankyou to those who were involved in making a decision. I know I worked hard all three years but the text below indicates where I stand re: awards etc. It is all the more wonderful and crazy to be recognised. Thank you.

So, this is Monday, 24 August, and three years ago, in 2006, in the early hours of the morning, I was sitting in front of the blank blog post form, thinking of what to write. This is how Los Cuadernos de Julia started. Without going into too much detail, it has been fantastic writing it, and being three years old is even better.

The book I had on my table since 1 August will be mentioned some time later in another post. It is sad that its author is no longer with us, but it is good that he’s left this book behind. And there is this chapter that I shall quote in full:

NEARLY everybody likes to win awards.

Awards create glamour and glamour creates income.

But beware.

Awards are judged in committee by consensus of what is known.
In other words, what is in fashion.
But originality can’t be fashionable, because it hasn’t as yet had the approval of the committee.
Do not try to follow fashion.
Be true to your subject and you will be far more likely to create something that is timeless.
That’s where the true art lies.

In three years I have never knocked any competitions nor tried to win awards, so even without reading that wonderful little book I was still following its advice. The truth is, ever since this blog was started it has been no more about my personal experience than it was appropriate. It was, first and foremost, about Arts and Culture; the category in which I have always registered my blog in directories, and the category in which this blog features in most other blog rolls. It’s hard to rank high in such competitive category but it’s more fun this way. And it is no more about Manchester than it can or should be, given the fact that it is written by someone who was not born in Manchester. It is certainly not “local” and will never be.

I have no problem with this blog being counted among Manchester blogs (I live in the city centre, after all), but being lumped in Personal category – sorry, this is a stretch too far. Yet this is what happened at Manchester Blog Awards in 2007, although I know from some of those who nominated it, they chose Arts and Culture category for it. I did not submit my nominations in 2008 because I was busy attending to my broken ankle, and now I realise that the Eternal Wisdom was definitely at play. The observations I made between 2006 and 2008 entirely prove the above quote; they also indicate that, as with many other contests like this, it serves to publicise something different from what is announced. This year I am not submitting, and I shall never submit. An MBA is too small, anyway. I’d like an MBE some time in the future. And if I must win an award for my blog, please let it be national or international.

Therefore, since this is Arts and Culture blog that also incorporates my creative writing, my goal for the next year of this blog is:

Be true to your subject and you will be far more likely to create something that is timeless.

Last but not least, I am immensely grateful to all the readers. With some of you I have connected not only via comments form but by email, Twitter, and Facebook. If I wanted to apologise for something, it would be the speed of responses. I must be pretty similar to Seth Godin in this respect: apparently, Seth doesn’t accept comments or loiter on forums. As much as I love socialising on the Social Web, and as much as Social Web can help a writer to find subjects and characters, doing this all the time is detrimental to creativity. I respond to comments but forums are not my forte; which is why I am so grateful to those who found and discussed my post about Susan Boyle on her fan site. I spent this Saturday at the University of Manchester library, although I could spend it on Twitter. And then I was writing until 4am Sunday. It pays to be somewhat unsociable.

However, I am very grateful to everyone who finds me, comments and offers help, particularly to Naukishtae, for being such a tireless and passionate commentator; to Robert, for offering insights into language (without me asking!); to Martin, for our on-and-off communication since 2007 and for his brilliant political tale with a maze-like structure, inspired by Bulgakov and the Russian Art; to Craig who was an indispensable advisor for two of the years this blog was running until he moved to France; to Guy who writes a brilliant blog on ancient history; to Patrick, for his translation of Chanson de Prévert and great photos; and to a long list of Twitter/chat/email/real life contacts, especially Tim, Andrew, Joely, Sarah, Louise, Carola, Richard, Sam, Mennard, David, Robin, and Adrian. And, of course, to my parents and a small team of Russian readers who have been with me all along on this journey.

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