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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Writer Interview - Paul Trembling

Our guest today is Mr. Paul Trembling - a man of many talents and many stories.

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What is your favorite virtue?

I don’t think that I have one favorite virtue. The problem is that virtues don’t come in individual packages. They merge, they blend, they mix. So a person who shows patience will also be showing self control, and will probably be diligent as well. Kindness, compassion and charity (in the old meaning as well as the new) are all found together.

We can analyze the virtues, break them down and file them under different headings, but that seems to me to be somewhat artificial. In the world, in people, they come together, in untidy clusters. Nobody has all of them, and perhaps nobody is entirely devoid of them (though some people do a good job of hiding it!). Where they exist, they make the world a better place.

Your favorite qualities in a man. Your favorite qualities in a woman.

I’ll put these two together, if that’s OK, because gender specific qualities wouldn’t be among my favorites.

The problem I have in defining favorite qualities is that (somewhat like virtues) they don’t come separately.

For example – decisiveness is a quality I definitely admire in people (probably because I lack it!). Decisive people don’t mess around, don’t dither. They get things done, they make things happen. The world needs that quality.

But very often, decisive people can be difficult to work with. Once the decision is made, they want to go ahead with it, and aren’t interested in different points of view, or perhaps even inconvenient facts. They don’t change course easily, and can be intolerant, or downright pig-headed.

So, whilst I like decisiveness as an idea, when I meet it in a person I might not find it so attractive.

Honesty is a favorite quality. Honesty means facing problems, admitting mistakes, confronting the real issues. Without honesty there is no growth, no improvement, and this applies whether we’re talking about individuals or communities or entire nations.

Yet honesty can be cruel. It must be tempered with compassion, balanced with sensitivity. Otherwise, instead of helping a problem it creates one.

And of course I could go on. I love to see creativity and passion, gentleness and strength, humour and beauty and craftsmanship and skill and joy. I try and recognize these good things in people, to affirm those things, whilst not being blind to the dark side that we all carry round with us, the negative aspects of these qualities. I accept that there is a dark side to all of us, that’s part of being human, and we all need to face up to that and work against it – but still see the good wherever it can be found.

That’s the theory, at least! I can’t claim to be that wise or that discerning in practice. But I’m in favor of any positive quality in anyone.

Your chief characteristic.

My sense of humor. Others might disagree.

What do you appreciate the most about your friends?

Simply the fact that they are my friends!

Being a bit of loner, and not overwhelmed with social skills or self-confidence, I found it hard when I was young to believe that people might actually enjoy my company. Over the years I’ve developed a better view of myself, but I still find myself a little surprised and perhaps a bit wary when a friendship develops.

Developing a sense of humor (see above) was probably a response to this insecurity. If I can make someone laugh, I can be reasonably sure that we are getting on OK.

Your main fault.

Lack of self discipline, in my opinion. My sense of humor, in other people’s opinion.

Your favorite occupation.

Writing.

There are a lot of other things that I like to do, and if you catch me at a particular moment, my favorite occupation might at that moment be cuddling up to my wife, watching a good film and eating chocolate. Or walking the dog on a beautiful day. And so on.

But when I’m in the zone, when the ideas are crisp and fresh, the words flowing and joining themselves together, when characters and plots and background and an entire world is taking shape in me and being created in words – that’s an incomparable thrill.

The other side of that particular coin is that when I can’t write, for whatever reason, I get very frustrated! Like having an itch I can’t scratch.

Your idea of happiness.

I probably covered that under ‘favorite occupation’. Did I get those two mixed up?

But perhaps happiness goes deeper than that. Not just the passing pleasure from doing something enjoyable, but a contentment that comes from knowing your place in the world, from being secure in your relationships, from feeling that what you do and who you are is of value, from having meaning.

I’ve struggled with that in the past. And sometimes still do. But over the years, things have come together to make me a happier and more contented person than I was. Meeting my wife, Annie, sharing our lives and having a family, has been a big plus. In recent years, developing my writing and some self-confidence in my writing has been a huge blessing. And my faith as a Christian has always been my foundation on which all happiness is built.

Your idea of misery.

There is so much real misery in the world, so much incredible suffering going on, that for me with my comfortable life to talk about misery seems a little shallow and petty. I have seen misery on the TV news, heard stories of it. I’ve been unhappy, I’ve been down, I’ve been really depressed and felt crushed with life. But I have barely scratched the surface of real misery.

But what would get me there? Loneliness is the surest route, I think. A strange thing to say, perhaps, for a person who has been, and often still is, a bit of a loner. A writer and a daydreamer who is often more comfortable with the worlds in his own head than the world outside it.

But when I come out of my head, I need a place to come back to. A place where I belong, and people I belong with. I don’t mind being alone for a while, but that’s not the same as lonely. I’ve been there, and never want to go back. It is a miserable place.

If not yourself, who would you be?

I’ve been struggling with this question, because it seems a little arrogant to say ‘no one’. But the thing is, however wonderful someone else’s life might seem from outside, you know that they must have their own problems and hang-ups and dark places. To truly be someone else would be to take on all that baggage as well.

Of course, I’ve got plenty of baggage of my own that I’d like to get rid of. But at least it’s familiar stuff. I know which cupboards the skeletons belong in. There’s much that I would change about myself, but not to the extent of not being myself.

So I’ll pass on becoming another person. Being me, and trying to become the best me I can be, that’s enough of a challenge!

Your favorite heroes in fiction.

Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings. For his incredibly long years of patience and persistence in his enormous task. And for the way he recognizes and values the small things and the little people (like Hobbits!), and for his capacity for love.

Also from LOTR – Borimir. For his flaws, his weaknesses, his failings. And his overcoming of them at the end.

Your favorite heroes in real life.

C.S. Lewis. A man with an incredible mind, able to deal with deep concepts of life and faith, but then communicate with clarity and freshness and wonderful imagination.

Your favorite food and drink.

I’m a bit of a philistine when it comes to food. I’m as happy with a good sandwich as I am with a three course dinner – possibly more, since the sandwich is probably cheaper and I can read while I’m eating it! Not that I don’t appreciate eating out on occasion, especially in good company, and I’ll try almost anything once. To be on the safe side, though, feed me chocolate. I’m usually OK with that.

I don’t drink alcohol, so I’ll wash that down with coffee, tea or fruit juice.

What is your present state of mind?

Pretty good! I’m working on a story which is coming together quite well, the weather has been really nice, and I’m touching on that deep contentment that I spoke of earlier.

Your personal motto.

Reality is overrated. Hence the title of my blog – ‘The Reality Escape Committee’ and deriving from that, my collection of short stories ‘Minutes of the Reality Escape Committee’.

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To find out more about Paul and his books, please visit his web site, Yearning Blue.

For a list of currently published works go to the Publications section of his web site or to his Author Spotlight on Amazon.com.

Paul Trembling's blog can be found here.

And his Facebook page is this way.

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