30 Questions

I stole these questions from Abby Norman, who wrote Ask Me About My Uterus and is an all-round excellent human. She answers them once a year, and last year I started doing the same thing at the beginning of the set of reflective posts I write each December.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Sitting at my new desk, reading something really interesting and making lots of notes.

2. What is your current state of mind? 

Tired but happy. Looking forward to the holiday period, when I will hopefully have some quiet time to do a lot of my answer to question #1.

3. What is your greatest fear? 

Irretrievably losing my mind.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

Sometimes I can be thoughtless, especially when there’s a situation where I react based on fear rather than sitting back and taking some time to think through things.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Wilful ignorance.

6. What is your greatest extravagance? 

This year, furniture.

7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? 

Being “nice.” I think it’s a bullshit concept that’s all too often used as an excuse not to stir things up, and to maintain a harmful status quo.

8. What is it that you most dislike? 

At the moment, there are various governments around the world that are vying for that title.

9. On what occasions do you lie? 

I usually lie accidentally, before I even know it’s going to happen, and it’s almost always an unconscious attempt to remove myself from a situation where I don’t want to end up divulging more information about myself than I’m comfortable with.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance? 

At the moment I dislike the quadriboob that keeps happening when I holster my boobs every morning, but tbh I could probably fix that by just buying a new bra…

11. What is the quality you most like in a man? 

Kindness.

12. What is the quality you most like in a woman? 

Unapologetic forthrightness.

13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

Actually, literally, omg. Some of which show up in my most tweeted words this year:

Apparently I also tweet a lot about books, writing, translation and my cat.

14. What or who is the greatest love of your life? 

Kierkegaard.

15. When and where were you the happiest this year? 

In Wales. I went there for a few days after I’d finished the course I did in the first part of the year. I stayed in a beautiful little cottage in the middle of nowhere, and I sat outside it watching the light play across the mountains for an entire day. It was excellent.

Small cottage on a hillside in Wales

16. Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to have my singing voice back. It disappeared at the beginning of the year due to a long bout of bronchitis, and it hasn’t come back to the same degree. I miss it.

17. What do you consider your greatest achievement this year? 

Writing a novel. It’s on its third draft right now, and I think this might be it.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

My weight, because then doctors would be more likely to take me seriously.

19. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what do you think it’d be? 

Something scrappy, like a cockroach.

20. What is your most treasured possession? 

My notebooks. I’m not sure this answer will ever change.

21. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 

Hopelessness.

22. What is your most marked characteristic? 

I don’t know, but I met a lot of new people this year, and several of them have used words like “calm” and “witchy” and I’m here for both of those descriptions.

23. What do you most value in your friends? 

That we can be honest with each other and not make stuff up to seem more socially acceptable.

24. Who are your favourite writers? 

Søren Kierkegaard, Umberto Eco, Jaume Cabré, Viktor Frankl, Sophie Hannah.

25. Who is your favourite hero of fiction? 

I’ve been getting into Lisbeth Salander again recently.

26. Which historical figure do you most identify with? 

Søren Kierkegaard, who apparently is going to be the answer to several questions.

27. Who are your heroes in real life? 

I don’t really have “heroes,” so much as people whose characteristics I admire; and those people are the ones I keep around me.

28. What are your favourite names? 

Zaphenathpanea, Keturah, Thelxinoë, Enheduanna.

29. What is your greatest regret from this year? 

I don’t think I have any. I made a couple of business decisions that turned out less well than I’d hoped, but I wouldn’t say I regret them, exactly. If you don’t try, you never know.

30. How would you like to die?

Quietly, at my desk, in an old creaky house on a deserted island, at night. Ideally having either just penned the final words of my last book / paper, or having just written something infinitely frustrating, à la Fermat.


Last year’s answers can be found here.

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