By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez
All Things Asian: April 2-16
Zara’s All Things Asian Event Post:
Asian Blogger Spotlight:
Meet Nancy from Simple Clockwork!
The blogs: That Hapa Chick; Live, Laugh, I Love Books; and My Words Ate Me are hosting the All Things Asian Event featuring guest posts about anything and everything about the Asian culture!
My guest post blogging interview has been featured on one of the host blogs on April 13! Please visit ThatHapaChick to read my interview!
Each and every day, a guest post will be featured until April 16, 2012, so be sure to drop by and visit the hosting blogs! Just click on the All Things Asian button above that links to the host blog.
As for me, I couldn’t pass up the chance to post a few articles as part of the All Things Asian Event on my own blog, alongside this important event because quite simply put: I’m Asian! And I’m especially honoured and driven to share the beauty of Asia with my readers to foster awareness, community, and inclusivity—all things that are especially important to me.
An important part of being a blogger is also being a part of the blogging community. And in my experience, meeting fellow book bloggers have made my blogging experience more fulfilling.
In celebration of the All Things Asian Event, I’d like to introduce you to Nancy from the blog, Simple Clockwork:
1. What is your blog about?
Nancy: My blog used to be just a personal blog where I post my reflections on what struck me—the beauty of the clouds, the disadvantage of running to cross a street, the importance of valuing others—with the hope that readers will be inspired to do better in their relationships with others. I would make it a point to blog at least once a week. This is why I called the blog, Simple Clockwork, which is short of saying “time is precious.”
One time, I was merely checking the Internet when I stumbled upon one blog (I’m so sorry I forgot the name) and discovered an online book blogging community called Book Blogs. Realizing that books are something I could talk my heart out with the passion of a bull, I then slowly shifted the niche of my blog to book blogging. I still post personal reflections whenever I can.
Zara: Blogging is a wonderful platform to share your thoughts and I look forward to reading more of your posts.
2. When and how did you start blogging?
Nancy: I started “blogging” in 2008. I was a general assignments news reporter then business writer for the same local paper at the time, so for my own archiving purposes, I placed in the next three years, almost all published articles in one blog called, No Mind’s Eye, which surprisingly received many comments and questions from all over the world than I could walking in my own province where the news come from. When I quit news reporting, my blog went defunct as well, but I never deleted it, believing that it could still be a source of information for many.
In April 2010, the boyfriend and I suffered a crime under the hands of a thief, an incident that sent the boyfriend to the hospital with three bloody bullets. There and then, I realized jobs don’t matter, except putting food on the table. I should be doing what I want to do. I should love the boyfriend more than the job, because he deserves it for being caring and patient after all the careless decisions I’ve made during our relationship. I should stop pleasing everyone. Well, it’s quite a long dramatic story.
In October 2011, after I found myself ready to tell my story, I started Simple Clockwork to subtly share these realizations.
Zara: I’m sorry to hear about such an unfortunate incident! It’s interesting to see how our work can influence one format and evolve, through different circumstances, to another.
3. What genres do you enjoy reading and/or writing?
Nancy: I’m an eclectic reader and a consistent writer (that is, I hope so). I enjoy books in these genres: Young Readers (particularly children and teen mysteries); Short Stories (particularly classics); (clean) Romance; Mystery/Detective/Adventure; Historical Fiction; Christian Fiction; Classics; Fantasy; General Fiction; and Humour. I’m beginning to appreciate Science Fiction and Poetry lately.
As for writing, well, I wouldn’t say I’m already a professional writer. But I am at that level wherein I could imagine myself writing my mind and heart away all day long. I started my book, “Plucked Strings,” several months ago. I’m now in Chapter 5. I also returned to writing short stories after five years. My first is The Decision and the second is The Rise and Fall of the Romulo Family. I’m a devotee of realism with trite moral ideas. And it shows in all my works.
Zara: As a creative writer myself, I love what the short story can offer. It’s often under-appreciated, but in consideration of its size, it takes a gifted writer to certainly write a good short story. And, yes, I’m quite a fan of poetry, too!
4. What are you currently reading now?
Nancy: Now this is the question I would like to gracefully veer away because I’m quite ashamed to say I got lots of books in my currently reading and read-to shelf. For now, I’m currently reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Salamanca by Filipino writer Dean Francis Alfar. I finished reading Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones last night.
Zara: No need to feel ashamed! I don’t readily admit how many books are on my “to-read” either! The list is far too long! (Just check my Goodreads account…you’ll see!) I love the book, The Secret Garden and I look forward to reading Salamanca because of your recommendation.
5. Who are your favourite authors?
Nancy: Most of my favourite authors are short story writers. They are Irish writers Oscar Wilde and Maria Edgeworth; American writer O. Henry; and Filipino writers Amador Daguio, Manuel Arguilla, and Paz Marquez-Benitez.
For books, well, there are lots, including Jose Rizal, Charlotte Bronte, Edith Wharton, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Sara Paretsky, George McDonald, Alyson Holman, Margaret Atwood, Jody Hedlund, Barbara Freethy, Arlene Chai, David Sedaris… really, I could go on and on.
On the other side, I also enjoy the poems by Walt Whitman.
Zara: My favourite short story writer, myself, is J.D. Salinger to name one. And Walt Whitman showed me a great appreciation of the long poem. I look forward to reading works by the Filipino writers that you’ve mentioned.
6. What do you look for in considering a new book to read?
Nancy: I guess it depends on the weather. I mean, a few days ago, one of my close cousins died, so I needed something perky and fun to lift my grieving mood even a notch, so I read Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones, which I really enjoyed because of the admirable wit and good heart of the two main characters.
On normal days, though, I would look up blogs for reviews. I subscribed to many blogs, including yours, through email so that I’ll be regularly posted. I’ve found a lot of good books from people who are honest enough to recommend titles that turn out to be treasures, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose wonderful children’s books I would have merely passed by at the store if not for the strong recommendation of blog friends who are into classics.
Zara: I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your cousin…which makes even this interview more meaningful in that you took the time to participate in it even in consideration of such difficult timing. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of the blogging community. I find, too, that it’s a great resource of literary information and reading and writing support. (Please send my sympathy to your family…you are in my prayers.)
7. What do you look for as you review a book?
Nancy: As long as the plot is unique, the grammar is good, if not perfect, and the characters are convincing, then I got a good book I will be excited to review about.
Zara: I always like to give a book a chance. Every book has potential and you just never know you’ll love something (or hate it) if you don’t open it up and read it.
8. What do you most enjoy about blogging?
Nancy: The sharing experience; that is, I get to tell my thoughts about books and life in general, and learn a lot from others through sharing. Blogging is merely a platform. And the fact that I get to exercise my writing through blogging is bonus fun.
Zara: I agree! It’s a great place to self-publish and share.
9. How do you envision your blog five years from now?
Nancy: Simple. It will be as organized as I want to be, tackling more classics and general fiction and discovering more new-to-me authors than I ever had in the past five years. I joined The Classics Club at A Room of One’s Own, which is a good thing for me because I want to read as many classics as I could.
Through my weekly Short Stories on Wednesdays (originally created by Risa of Breadcrumb Reads), I also hope to encourage more bloggers to read short stories that is often considered a neglected genre. At the same time, I will be writing more short stories posted on my blog.
Zara: I haven’t read as many classics as I would have liked and I have a library collection of them! And please do continue to write short stories. It is a genre that needs more attention in the blogging world. I can’t wait to see how your blog evolves over time.
10. What’s the best advice you can give an aspiring writer/blogger?
Nancy: Oh, that’s tough. I only have seven months of legitimate blogging experience and on-and-off fiction writing practice since grade school. Here’s what I could extract from these experiences, though: Write, write, write. On whatever platform. Doesn’t have to be blogging. And when you do so, write with your heart; meaning, write to express, not to impress. While that may sound boringly cliché, just try doing these golden rules and see what writing miracles your hands could weave.
Zara: Yes, I’ve always found that writing is most difficult when I can get bogged down by self-consciousness. It’s great advice to find your own “voice” and write genuinely about things that move you. Great advice, Nancy!
11. What part of Asia are you from?
Nancy: Philippines! The country is divided into three. I live in the central part, the Visayas, specifically the Central Visayas where my family live in a modest home in the beautiful province of Cebu. Like the rest of the country, my province is tropical and hot, especially when April and May are summer months. But these months mean regular visits to the beaches that surround the island. Weee!
Zara: I have yet to visit Cebu. Maybe when I visit next, we can get together and you can show me all its best parts!
12. What are your favourite Asian foods?
Nancy: You mean Filipino foods? Lots! I love our own local cuisine. My favourites, all native foods, are the following:
Dishes: Lechon (roasted pig), Buwad (dried fish), Liempo (Pork Belly),
Pork Sisig, Kaldereta, Nilat-ang Baboy, Tinolang Isda, Gambas,
Grilled Squid, etc.
Desserts: Halo-halo, Dried Mangoes
Snacks: Bibingka, Budbud, Masareal, Puto, Chicharon, Otap, Ampao
I could go on and on because apart from writing and reading, I love eating!
Zara: Now, I’m inspired to visit our local Filipino store and do some grocery shopping. One of the things I love best about going home to the Philippines is EATING. The food is diverse and SO GOOD!
13. Who are your favourite Asian authors?
Nancy: I think I already mentioned them, including Filipino writers Amador Daguio, Manuel Arguilla, and Paz Marquez-Benitez; they’re all dead, by the way. As others say, I love my own. Cebu has its own wonderful living writers, such as Simeon Dumdum, Erlinda Kintanar-Alburo, Merlie Alunan, Eileen Mangubat, Myke Obenieta, Mayette Tabada, and Lorenzo Niñal, among others.
Zara: Thanks for sharing these, Nancy. It’s important for the Filipino community to uphold its native writers. I’m going to look them up and work my way into reading their collections. Thank you.
14. Who are your favourite Asian artists?
Nancy: Tough one. I never had the privilege of studying and appreciating series of works of professional artists, so at the moment I wouldn’t know which ones are my favorites. But I would love to learn more about ancient Chinese art; it looks unique and strong. I would also like to study the contemporary Cebuano art through contemporary artists such as Sio Montera, Karl Roque, Wenceslao Cuevas, and Vidal Alcoseba Jr., among others.
Zara: Art is my second love to books and writing (or maybe a close third to coffee!) so I’m really pleased that you’ve shared some Filipino artists that I can discover. And ancient Chinese art is beautiful.
15. Who are your favourite Asian musicians?
Nancy: I wish I could say Adele, but since you’re asking for Asians, I’d go for patriotic music artists whose songs speak of pride of our country. They include Gloc-9, Apo Hiking Society, Parokya ni Edgar (now defunct), Francis Magalona, Bamboo (now defunct), Freddie Aguilar, Wolfgang, Yano, The Youth, and Gary Valenciano. I’m sure you’re familiar with many of them, Cha. I have a soft spot for the oldies, you see.
Zara: Nancy, I grew up listening to Freddie Aguilar since he’s one of my Dad’s favourite Filipino musicians! The song, Anak, by Freddie Aguilar, below still makes me nostalgic every time I hear it!
16. What is your favourite Asian celebration?
Feast of Sto. Niño every third Sunday of January! It’s an awesome way to start a new year, a chance to give thanks to the Lord and asks for forgiveness and protection from harm. I look forward to the procession, which is very overwhelming, what with millions of people walking peacefully and in harmony. Then there’s the mass, too, which never fails to overwhelm me with joy and awe over the spiritual unity of the Cebuanos. After these religious activities, there’s the Sinulog, the exciting sideline activity of the feast with the colourful parade of dances and bright clothes, all dancing to the joy that is Sto. Niño.
Zara: Oh! I think I know when I’ll be booking my flight back home…what a wonderful and festive celebration! I want to go!
17. If you could describe your culture in only three words, what would they be? (In English and in your native language.)
Cha, I can only think of two:
18. What part of your Asian culture would you like to see improve?
Nancy: I’d say the colonial mentality of the Filipinos should stop. Let us take pride of our past, our ancestors, and in our culture and heritage before and now. Just because we were colonized several times over long periods does not mean we should feel inferior about the things that are endemic to us as a people. We should visit the museums and other heritage sites or read books or converse lengthily with elders or veteran soldiers, for us to be reminded of what our ancestors and heroes went through to earn the freedom we are enjoying now. Sorry, Cha, I can be passionate about this subject. I love my place after all.
Zara: No need to apologize, Nancy. I agree with you 100%. It’s important to know and reconcile ourselves to our history as well as honour our past and better recognize ourselves from when, where, and how we came to be—with pride. It’s this belief that has motivated me to participate in the All Things Asian event and feature the Philippines on my blog. Stay passionate! You’re right.
19. What part of your Asian culture makes you the most proud?
Nancy: The hospitality of many Filipinos is something many foreign visitors could not refuse. We are always armed with a ready smile… and lots of food! No matter how poor a household is, the poor family will find ways and means to get their visitors comfortable and well-stuffed!
Zara: Yes, the hospitality of the Filipino is quite unmatched anywhere else in the world. It’s integral to who we are as a people.
20. List three of your favourite Asian blogs (Please include URLs).
Zara: Thank you so much, Nance, for taking the time to share a little about yourself, your blog, and the beauty and diversity that Philippines has to offer! I look forward to rediscovering Philippines with fresh eyes and to adding more Filipino writers, artists, and musicians to my personal library. It’s been a pleasure!
You can find Nancy’s blog here: Simple Clockwork
You can also find Nancy’s blog on Facebook.
Nancy is also on Goodreads.
Be sure to visit her and follow! She’s a great Filipina and book blogger!
Note: For those of you who don’t know, my family and Filipino nickname is Chacha, which is why Nancy refers to me as Cha throughout the interview.
For previously posted features by The Bibliotaphe’s Closet for the All Things Asian Event, visit the Event Page here.