My Chinese Portrait

Warning: There are a LOT of links in this piece, so make yourself comfortable …

On 21st November last year I blogged a bit about Chinese portraits. I also said I’d be working on my own version…  without further ado, here it be!

It was very tempting to make this a series of single word answers, so here’s my qualifier … and why …


If I were a quality?

I’d define ‘quality’ as a moral or ethical characteristic which I’m proud of or engenders my self-respect: faithfulness.

And why faithfulness? If I am faithful to my Self, my ethics, what I believe in, all of which change and are refined with time and growth, then I can sleep at night with a minimum amount of stuff troubling my spirit.


If I were a flaw?

Definition as above except for the ‘self-respect’ and ‘proud of’. I see it as a life lesson in progress: procrastination.

Hey I’m a Libran, we invented procrastination. Seriously, this evolved from early childhood training wherein I absented myself from the house in order to avoid chores and unpleasant male relatives. Now I do battle with procrastination on a regular basis. It’s part of that 87 1/2 mentioned further down!


If I were a work of art?

Judy Chicago’s ‘The Dinner Party’. It was the first art installation I’d ever come across that actually had meaning for me when I first realised there were such words as patriarchy, and sexism, and homophobia, and I truly understood, both intellectually and viscerally, the impact those words had had on the whole of my life.


If I were a sound?

The butterfly wings that create the Butterfly Effect. Talk about an awareness of the consequences of a single act!


If I were a song/music?

A piece of music from the soundtrack of ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ by Peter Gabriel titled ‘With this Love’. Try listening to it with your eyes closed and headphones on.  The combination of the bass line and the oboe are exquisite.


If I were a word?

Authentic; not necessarily because I am, all the time, but because I strive to be, all the time.


If I were a book?

The ‘Empire’ Trilogy’ by Janny Wurts and Raymond Feist. Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, and Mistress of the Empire. This series embodies all that I want to be as a writer when I grow up: complex story, riveting politics, a fair amount of guts-n-gore, a kick-ass female hero who grows as a person through every turn of the plot, a supporting cast of fully-fleshed-out characters that are as engaging as the main ones.


If I were a motto/a quotation?

99 times fall down, 100 times get up. Says it all.

P.S. I reckon I’m at about 87-and-a-half!


If I were a movie?

‘Avatar’ Because it marks a milestone in what is possible to put on film, and therefore demands that all of us who are in this SF (Speculative Fiction – a one-size-fits-all term) field raise our game just that little bit further.

P.S. Love the music from this movie too.

And…. ‘Desert Hearts’ because it has a hopeful ending. It was the first lesbian movie made in the western hemisphere that had one and I’m a sucker for hopeful endings.


If I were a time period?

Victorian-ish. 1850 – 1918. With one qualifier … pots of money and a huge library … OK that’s two. Either that or in Old Europe, about 10,000 years ago. Victorian, because I love mechanical gadgets. Steampunk here I come! … and 10,000 years ago? … we’ll leave that one a mystery!


If I were a personage of fiction?

A blend of Honor Harrington, Mara, of the Acoma, Winnie-the-Pooh, Mary Russell, created by the wonderful Laurie King, and Minverva from Daughters of a Coral Dawn’ by Katherine V. ForrestAnd finally Victoria, from ‘Victor/Victoria’. (not because I can sing, but because I love Julie Andrews!)

Why that motley crew? I don’t have a ready or glib answer, but as I think about it these six beings embody what I am and what I aspire to be – at least in part. The rest? Well, that’s a mystery too.


If I were an animal?

Crow or Raven. They have always reminded me to ‘pay attention’.

Mind you, this New Years Eve I drew Squirrel from the Medicine Cards. I had to laugh because ever since I saw ‘Up’ I have developed this strange fondness for suddenly looking off, usually to the left, and exclaiming, “Squirrel!” … I wonder what Herself is trying to tell me?


If I were a mythological being or supernatural creature?

An Ent. Lord of the Rings was the first SF story I read that was more than a single book. I was entranced by the notion that an adventure could be continued across a whole three books, five if you count ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Silmarillion’. The Ents were the first creatures in the books that strayed beyond traditional boundaries of ‘fey’ creatures, at least to my young experience of such things.

I’ve always felt an affinity with trees, and have listened to them talking on many occasions, but that’s another story.


If I were a Chinese portrait

Well, that’s certainly a mish-mash of information. Some of it wishful thinking and some… well, rather exposing, but I dare say its all character building.

….. Now it’s your turn …..


It’s not what you are, it’s what you don’t become that hurts – Raconteur (and composer, pianist, author, comedian, actor) Oscar Levant: Via the wonderful Flo Stanton’s regular Monday email of fun facts, quotes and weird-but-true headlines.

10 comments on “My Chinese Portrait

  1. Gee, I thought we sagittariuses invented procrastination all this time. I agree, doing this is character building. Thanks for sharing yourself. That takes a lot. When I dare contemplate myself, I shall do this, too. Maybe sooner than I think. 🙂


  2. Kalaya Camren says:

    Phenomenal sense of self knowledge. I’ll have to try this myself.


  3. Clar says:

    This was a real interesting post. Because there were so many links it took few days to read. I wonder if you have read or be interested in reading a transgender memoir about male to female called ‘She’s not there’ by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Thank you for giving me a wider choice of reading material on the subject. That memoir read like a novel and she hurt a whole lot of people especially her wife. I’m glad the subject can be more out in the open now and not be left in the closet so long.


    • Widdershins says:

      I haven’t read that one… but I can recommend ‘Gender Outlaw – On Men, Women, And the Rest of Us’ by Kate Bornstein .. its a few decades old by now and I think she put out a companion book just recently. In it she has a wonderful analysis of gender politics and how they’re so easy (relatively) to sidestep. Definitely worth a read if you can find it…. I got mine from our local library.


  4. Clar says:

    Also I didn’t learn of all the links in my email version of this post. They just weren’t visible.When I came here to comment I saw all the ones I’d missed.


    • Widdershins says:

      Yep, it pays to go to the horses mouth!…. so, are you going to jump in and do a Chinese Portrait on your blog? Just adding a link here to it so other readers know where to find you.


  5. London Mabel says:

    work of art – interesting, I’d never heard of it / enjoyed googling

    song – enjoyed listening to

    word – very popular with me as well 😉

    book – will have to check if it’s in my sff collection – my husband just brought home a bunch more books, but I never know if I recognize something because I own it, or because I worked in a bookstore for 15 years

    personage – Did you ever watch the Jules Verne series? It’s semi-kid-ish but it’s Steampunk and the female spy Rebecca would fit in nicely with your gang.

    being – We’ve been calling my husband an ent ever since seeing Lord of the Rings. He’s always been a fan of the books, but it was the line in the movie: Anything worth saying is worth taking a long time to say. (My husband loves to talk.)

    And finally I LOOOOVE that Oscar Levant quote.

    Thanks for sharing Ms Shins!


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