Gotta post and run, but jurors, have your votes to me by tomorrow night at 9pm Central.

Bizek’s formatted weirdly, but looks fine in my email. Argh.

Sarah Bizek

1. When did you first really align with Margaret?

In truth, I first allied with Margaret in the very same moment that I first allied with Matt, though I didn’t fully realize it at the time. I expected that she would be an easy elimination when it came time to start voting out people from our own alliance. As the weeks passed, though, Margaret proved to be a kind, supportive, and fiercely loyal ally. I chose to honor my alliance with her above all others when I returned from my backpacking trip and learned that Matt had been eliminated. In that vote, she, myself, and Matt were the only three who did NOT vote for Matt. That meant a great deal to me. I couldn’t have hoped to play this game alongside someone as honorable as Margaret, and if I had won immunity in the Vote for Brooks challenge, I would have eliminated Shawn. Both Shawn and Margaret know this.

2. Did you really give your vote to Margaret or Novak?

When I realized that my backpacking trip would significantly interfere with my participation in the game, Kelly allowed me to make a contingency vote posed in the following format: “Make my vote match [enter player’s name here]’s vote.” Matt and I discussed a strategy for this vote.

He was my primary ally at the time, so of course I asked that my vote match his. However, we were becoming suspicious that Melissa and Brian, also part of our alliance at the time, might be making a move for Matt (and boy were WE right!), so instead of telling the alliance that I was voting with Matt, I sent a message to our allies asking who they thought I should vote with. The hope was that Brian would take the bait, so that if they wanted to make a move for Matt while I was out of town and unable to change my voting buddy, they would believe that I was one more vote on their side and hopefully they would fail in their attempt to oust him. But Brian didn’t bite. Margaret was the one who spoke up offering herself as a voting buddy. So Matt and I told the team that I was voting with Margaret, but I did, in fact, vote with Matt. Although there’s little difference there, in truth. In this game, a vote with Margaret was a vote with Matt, and vice versa.

3. What is your favorite story that you wrote? Your best writing?

The children’s story I wrote for the write-off against Brian was my favorite piece this season. The idea evolved over a period of hours, and I was very pleased with the finished product, especially with only 24 hours to write it. I love that little fiery Klaus. J

My best writing…that’s a harder one to answer. I’m proud of the pieces I wrote for There’s an Island, Suspect, and It Lives. With all three pieces, the writing flowed easily and little editing was required. I felt in the proverbial “zone” while I worked on them and that doesn’t happen for me often anymore.

4. Tell me why Shawn should win.

I was originally pretty wary about allying with Shawn in this game, mostly because I’d talked myself into believing that she was someone different from the eighteen-year-old I met and befriended in an intense way seventeen years ago. Because of the game, I learned that my friend is the same person, but stronger and wiser as we all hope to become, as she was then, and I have this season to thank for the rekindling of our unusually close friendship. I mention this to illustrate Shawn’s integrity. She played an entirely honest game with me, and while I don’t think she played as strategic a game as I did, she outwrote me at least as many times as I outwrote her. She is an incredibly talented writer, as we all know, and that is what this game is all about, right?

5. Did you deliberately write toward your strengths, or did you ever try to do something new and different with your writing?
Examples please.

Dialogue is my greatest weakness in writing. I have a tendency to make all of my characters sound the same as one another when they speak, so I’ve always attempted to write as little dialogue as possible. There were times in this game when I deliberately tried my hand at stories relying predominantly on dialogue. Examples: Nighthawks, Dual Manipulation, and Only Lies. These were not so successful for me, but I did try. I thought on many occasions of writing something sci-fi or fantasy; something futuristic or something about a topic that I knew very little about. Had I accomplished that, those would have been instances in which I wrote outside of my comfort zone. Truth is I could just never develop a strong enough idea in those genres or on those topics. I have a bit of regret over that, being that this really is a forum in which we can play with things that make us uncomfortable.

Description is my greatest strength in writing. In challenges where I played to that strength I earned my highest scores. For examples, reference the three pieces I mentioned as my best writing during this season. Especially in the It Lives challenge, where there were two words of dialogue in the entire 1,400 word piece, I think my strength at description really shined.

6. “Plea”

I’m not going to write a plea for your votes. Shawn and I are both deserving candidates for the title, and I trust that you will all make the decision that you think is right and, hopefully, just. I do want to use this section to thank Matt, Margaret, Sarah, and Shawn, without whom I would certainly not have made it to the final two. I recognize their involvement in my success throughout this game, and they deserve my sincere gratitude for that. I also want to send out a big old “Sorry, dude!” to Brian, who only got eliminated when he did because Melissa had won immunity, and we had to break up their too-strong alliance (yes I mean “too,” and not “two”). You were not our target, and you wouldn’t have been for some time had we been able to vote Melissa out when we needed to. So…sorry, dude.

Thanks for reading, all. I hope I was able to answer your questions to your satisfaction. I look forward to reading your votes.

Shawn Ashley

1. Why were you OK with ties?
This question assumes that I was, when in actuality, I would’ve preferred NOT to have a tie. However, I wasn’t necessarily going to “bully” someone into voting with me. People were going to do what they were going to do. I just voted as I saw fit.

2. Why Bizek over Margaret for the final?
Honestly, with no offense to Margaret at all because she is very talented, I believe Sarah Bizek to be the stronger writer. And if I am going to be taken out, I want it to be by someone who, in my mind, absolutely deserves it. I never want to win something because it was “easy”. I want a fight. (Not an actual fight. You know what I mean.) I want to be afraid that I am going to lose. Not assuming that I would win against Margaret AT ALL…but this is why I chose Bizek.
Once upon a time, there were two girls who traveled far and wide in a van with a great group of people and two monsters who called themselves “David Tacheny*” and “Amy Jo Phillips*”. They traveled all over southwestern Minnesota doing something called The Snow Queen for the schools- even one that had a strangely large mentally and physically challenged population in the town called “Lester Prairie” (which they dubbed “Molester Prairie”). Later, we heard a rumor that there was a lot of inbreeding that happened in this little speck on the map. It was the best of times and the worst of times…Much love to this group that is forever in my heart. Family. 🙂

*David and Amy are not really monsters. I love them dearly.

3. What is your favorite story that you wrote? Your best writing?
I think this season my favorite story that I wrote was the Botched Performance piece. The gory visual of all of those dead bodies being strung up like puppets was chilling. I also really loved my Island story if it hadn’t been in the confines of the silly Island parameters. I will probably rework that piece and take out all of the crap I don’t like. HOWEVER, the technical writing of that piece was also just not executed properly. So it needs work. A lot of my stuff this season, I felt, had a good concept yet poor execution. Bad writing. And a lot of it was just plain crap. But that is why I love Survivor.

4. Tell me why Bizek should win. (Caveat: “She *shouldn’t* win” is not the answer).
I would never write “She shouldn’t win”. That’s not who I am. She absolutely SHOULD win, because she is a strong writer and I love her very much. Like family. The thing about family is, you always put them before yourself. She should win because she is amazing. J
5. Did you deliberately write toward your strengths, or did you ever try to do something new and different with your writing? Examples please.
Look, I just write. I don’t think of strengths or weaknesses. I sit down (usually an hour or two before the deadline) and whatever bleeds out of me at that moment is what you guys read.
Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Well, I don’t have a typewriter. Although, I am trying to rectify that. But you get the idea.

This is the first time that I have ever done anything strategic whilst playing this game. And although it was fun (and super funny) at times, it is really not the reason I play. It keeps me writing every week so I don’t forget what it is that I love. It keeps me in touch with some really great longtime friends and helps me connect with new friends that I potentially may never meet in person, but am grateful for them all the same. I never lied to anyone. (I may have started a rumor that Pope is Canadian.)
All-in-all, whoever wins, I’m happy. Thanks for letting me play yet another season! Am excited to play again. Sunshine and puppies!!
And nibs? Suck it. 😉