The Sanguinary Sequel

This was meant to be posted last night but I seem to have forgotten to press the “Publish” button. Senior moment! Bah!

I have reduced my “Following” list to 33.

At this point I realised that I have several people missing who should be on. I may eventually get up to around 50.

I was surprised to find that Derrick Knight was not on my list. He is one of my most visited sites, alongside Tootlepedal, but I didn’t seem to be following him. As with a number of people who are frequent visitors to this site I just get back to him by clicking on his link. Sorry Derrick.

So far it’s only halfway through the day and apart from cooking brunch and watching one episode of Diagnosis Murder I have done nothing but Word Press related work. I have answered comments, finalised the “Followed” List, followed Val’s instructions on how to delete followers and read a few blog posts. It is not a lot. Finally, as I am working towards a secret self-imposed target, I decided it was time to write.

Unfortunately I just calculated the target and I’m going to miss it. So, craftily, I reset the target and I’m going to meet it. All I had to do was adjust the time-scale. And, as it’s a secret, you will never know…

It’s later now. I’ve been on the phone to my sister, ordered a prescription online from a reluctant NHS system that kept kicking me out, washed up from brunch and made  a pot of soup that will see us through the next couple of days.

I am making slow headway towards my 250 word target. This is 261. At 250 I can persuade myself it’s a proper post. At 240 it’s probably OK, but at 230, it doesn’t seem like I’ve made  a serious attempt.

Some days, the magic just doesn’t happen. This may be linked to the bad night’s sleep I had last night. I have made many mistakes in my life, and last night they all came back to me. They do that once in a while. It has been within my grasp at times to be richer, happier, thinner and more widely published, but I have shown an uncommon talent for failing to failing to close the deal. It’s as if my subconscious likes to torment me every so often by letting me know that it knows…

The photos are just random work photos.

 

Greek banknotes

Greek banknotes

Bloodbath!

Last week I realised I was following over 1,800 people. I had culled a lot of the people I followed a couple of years ago when I realised that I didn’t actively follow most of them, and that many of them hadn’t posted for months. I started following a lot of them because we had shared interests, or because they followed me, and it soon got out of control.

After the cull I still fell into the trap of following people who followed me and it started building up again.

A couple of days ago I started thinking about WP and my numbers. I don’t need to follow 1,800 people when I actually struggle to keep up with reading more that a couple of dozen blogs, and even then my reading is somewhat erratic.

After three days of boring effort I am now following 285 people and that’s only because I haven’t finished yet. I’m hoping to get down to around 100. Some of them make it easy for me by having words like “marketing” in their titles, Others haven’t posted for months, or even a year. A few haven’t posted for two years. It’s very sad to see them pass, and I haven’t the heart to delete the ones I used to enjoy.

As an aside here, if someone dies, what do you do with their emails and email address. I keep them, because it’s not like you’ve lost them if you keep the emails alive, and it seems discourteous just to press a button and consign them to cyberspace. Is that morbid, ghoulish or unbalanced? Or just plain stupid? I’m not sure. What do you do?

In a similar vein who do you follow? And how many people follow you? I have 2,080 followers, but on a good day I have fifty to sixty people visiting the site. If a post gets 20 likes it’s a red letter day. I’m pretty sure that 2,000 of those followers aren’t pulling their weight. Let’s face it, most of them have probably left WP or grown bored of my ranting over the years, or never really liked me in the first place – they just wanted me to follow them. I shouldn’t be surprised about this, after all, it’s what I do to other people.

The Red Admiral in the featured image was basking in sun on some ivy as Julia walked to the laundrette today. I saw a Small Copper in our front garden yesterday but it flew off before I could get my camera out. Wife 1 Me 0.

Small Copper on castor oil plant

This is one from a couple of years ago, when I was younger and quicker. It appeared in the recent post Sunlit Uplands and I took it a year or two before that.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Only one day after saying I was waiting impatiently for news from two editors, one got back to me.

Not only did they get back to me, but they told me they were going to pass on the haibun which, it seems, lack depth, as the haiku fail to take the reader on a step beyond the prose.

This is slightly depressing as I was just beginning to think I was getting the hang of things. About a year ago I had several haibun returned as the haiku were felt to be a step to far away from the prose and were not related enough.

Rejection I can cope with. It is, as I recently said, simply an indication that one particular editor, at this time, doesn’t think that the work is right for publication. It isn’t personal and it isn’t necessarily an opinion shared by other editors.

What does concern me a little with this rejection is that the specific objection is one that I thought I’d addressed. It’s not about my ability to write, it’s about my judgement of what is good and what is bad. I actually thought I was getting better and was moderately happy with them. (I am never fully happy with any submissions, even when they are published, I even went over yesterdays Limmerbun to alter a line this afternoon).

I have just been and looked at about twenty haibun in a couple of magazines. About a third of them had haiku attached which were stronger than mine. Another third featured haiku much the same as mine. The final third featured haiku which bore little relationship to anything that had gone on in the prose – my previous problem. This, of course, is just my opinion, and as we have just seen, my opinion may not be correct. I would however suggest that on another day, with another editor and a different magazine, these haibun could have been accepted,

This all goes to show that there is no good and bad in haibun, just things that gain approval and things that don’t. Today, I didn’t. Watch, learn, move on. I will tweak them over the next few days. It’s not so much improving them as moving them more into the area where they are likely to be accepted for publication. Or does that sound too cynical?

I will leave you with these wise words from one of our great, but unappreciated, philosophers.

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

 

 

Talent, Resilence & Patience

There are three things you need for success in life, whether you are talking about writing (as I do) or anything else.

(By the way, I’m about to invent a new form of poem, so stay alert till the end.)

Despite the title, talent isn’t one of them. Research has shown that if you divide a group of children into two lots and praise one for their talent and the other for their hard work the results of one group will gradually decline and the other will increase.

The problem with praising someone for their talent is that they begin to believe that their talent will run out, where the other group starts to believe that the harder they work, the better they will become. This seems to be borne out by the actual results.

It is all laid out in a book called Bounce by Matthew Syed. Reading the review, as I did whilst looking for a link, it looks like there’s a lot more in there too – I really should read it again.

Talent can, to be honest, be replaced by practice and work rate. As long as you have a basic grasp of what makes a good bit of work in your field, you can work on improving the quality of your work. If you write a lot and submit enough pieces of work, success will follow. Once you have some success, more will follow. It’s like Roger Bannister and the four minute mile – once he broke the four minute barrier others followed. Barriers are mainly psychological, and once broken can be broken again and again.

Resilience, I have covered several times. Rejection is merely  the opinion of an editor at a certain point in time, and does not constitute a damning judgement on you or your work. If several editors share the same view it still isn’t that bad, just take it as a hint that you need to alter a few things.

As an aside – write haibun. I have always felt fortunate that a number of editors have taken the time to give me pointers about my haibun, which isn’t something that happens in a lot of fields. It seems to be a field where we are blessed with a group of fine editors. When I was a more traditional poet I rarely met with helpful comments – it was a case of yes or no, mostly no, and no clue as to what needed altering.

Stone on the Floor

I thought I’d put the poetic rocks half way down as it isn’t really a poetry post.

Finally, patience. No editor of a small poetry publication is in it hoping for fame and fortune. They are often overworked, under appreciated and blamed for the varied failings of authors. Some people even write sarcastic haibun about them. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

If you are a guest editor, as many are, the under-appreciation must be even greater.

However, it doesn’t stop me getting twitchy when they take a long time over their answer. I’m waiting for an answer from a magazine that says it may take 6-8 weeks to answer during busy periods. IT’s had the submission for 54 days now, which is just two days short of eight weeks, and I’m becoming twitchy. Another, with a target of two weeks, has had my submission for sixteen days. Two weeks is an excellent response time, so I’m not complaining, but I’d love an answer.

You just have to sit back and wait. It’s difficult not to be impatient, but just think, if it was you, would you appreciate impatience. I think not.I keep telling myself we are lucky to have people to do these jobs for us. If you left me in charge of a magazine it would soon degenerate into confusion and Limericks.

There was an old poet called Quercus,
whose efforts, often, would irk us.
He loved to declaim,
and would often exclaim
that he’d much rather work in a circus.

And that is my new form of poetry. You have prose and haiku, which are haibun, and prose and tanka, which are called tanka prose. Well this – prose followed by a Limerick, is a Limmerbun.  I add the double m to make sure it is pronounced correctly. Unlike the other two, a Limmerbun can be utter nonsense.

My Orange Parker Pen

I’m still hoping for some freebies from Parker. They are obviously not reading this blog.

Edited next day to tidy up a typo, remove a repetition and tinker with the Limerick.

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - dramatic setting

One Tree, Four Photos

The featured image shows a tree at Gibraltar Point yesterday. I have used the “Dramatic” setting, which could easily be labelled “Melodramatic” as it always reminds me of the words “It was a dark and stormy night…”

The one below is the one my camera took with its normal setting. Having just checked it I see that “normal” means it’s set for fluorescent lighting (which is what I use when taking pictures for eBay. This may account for the slightly lifeless colours I have been noting recently will dull weather.

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - normal setting

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – normal setting

The next one is the same tree, and the same photograph as above, but with the computer’s “auto correct” setting applied.

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - auto correct setting

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – auto correct setting

I’m not clear what it actually uses for reference. In this case it hasn’t made a lot of difference. I have tried it on other photos at times and it does make a considerable difference, but I didn’t think to save original copies to compare the two. I only actually started thinking about this a few minutes ago when I auto corrected a couple of beach photos, which seemed to consist of moving them from Lincolnshire to California – the difference in sea, sand and sky were that significant. It did not, however, change any of the subjects into youthful, bronzed lifeguards, as you will see when I eventually use the photos.

I did, as you may guess, take three photos for use in a blog post, the fourth is an afterthought. The fourth uses a setting called Pop Art, which brings all the colours out and always reminds me of a 1970s colour postcard. I have used it before with some posts, mainly when I’ve been at the seaside.

I’m sure the postcards that used this colouring were labelled Photochrom, but I’ve just looked it up and found that it was a completely different process according to Wikipedia, so I may be getting confused.

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - Pop Art setting

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – Pop Art setting

Personally, I like the stormy picture, as it suits the skeletal tree, and I like the Pop Art setting as it reminds me of a day at the seaside. From the point of view of it just being a photograph with no context, either of them are reasonable tree photos.

From the documentary point of view, neither are accurate – there was no storm and the day was not that bright and sunny.

However, it was a bit brighter than the other two settings imply, which might be partly down to me having the camera adjusted for fluorescent light.

Having started off to compare a few camera settings I’m now starting to wonder if any photograph is reliable, particularly with so many ways of manipulating photographs being available.

How long, given the current state of technology, before somebody comes up with an app that inserts Elvis Presley into a crowd scene every time it detects more than twenty faces in the photo?

Or even better, inserts a photograph of Derrick  J Knight holding a gherkin – we could call it the Where’s Wally? App. (That’s an in-joke for regular readers of Derrick, who has introduced the slang term wally into the culinary vocabulary of a wide range of his WP readers.)

 

Tuesday, and a Departure from My System of Simple Titles

Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

We went to the coast today, it was warm and pleasant, though a touch crowded in places. Our route took us through North Lincolnshire to avoid the roadworks round Lincoln. We eventually arrived in Chapel St Leonards, thinking of toilets. There was a queue, and it was a bit crowded to we went to Sutton on Sea, which was also queued out and crowded. Eventually we found toilets in Alford which was not crowded, being a traditional sleepy market town, though there was still a queue for the toilet as they only allow one person in at a time.

Dabchick, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Dabchick, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – it is scratching the side of its head.

Dabchick, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Dabchick, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Thomas Paine served as a customs officer in Alford. (The linked article has interesting information, though some of the syntax is slightly irregular.

Skegness was also crowded so we carried on to Gibraltar Point. The main car park was crowded, so we went to the smaller one and had a picnic under the pines before walking in the marsh and taking a few photos. Julia walked more than I did – I sat in the hide trying to get some duck photos.

We saw a good pincushion gall and plenty of berries – hawthorn, sea buckthorn and rose hip. If old wives are correct it will be a bad winter, but they aren’t always right. I’m sure the berries  have more to do with the summer weather than the coming winter.

Pincushion Gall, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Pincushion Gall, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Pincushion Gall, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Pincushion Gall, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

I couldn’t find a dragonfly to pose for me, though several flew past and several grasshoppers lurked modestly amongst grass stems which prevented decent photos.  I did manage a few shots, including sky and water, which tend not to move when you press the button, unlike ducks.

On the way back in the dark we narrowly missed a female roe deer that bounced out of the hedge in front of us. There are plenty of dead deer poems (google it if you don’t believe me) of which this is probably the best known. Due to me being alert and equipped with new brake pads the world has been deprived of another.

 

Monday – Bloody but Unbroken

The Featured Image is also my coded warning that you are about to enter a poetry post. If the word culture affects you like it affected Hermann Goering, you may want to look away now. Apart from the fact Goering never said it, and the original version is, to be honest, a lot less snappy. I often find quotes are like that when you actually check them out.

That calls for another quote.

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

I think I mentioned last week that I was sending some haiku off to an editor that has already turned me down twice. I may improve, or I may wear him down, but one way or another I’m not going to admit defeat.

Well, today, just a week after sending, the email came back. To be fair, he doesn’t hang about. I’ve been waiting for eight weeks for one editor to get back to me, which isn’t long compared to some, but os long enough when you are waiting for an answer.

To be honest, I almost prefer a quick rejection to a long drawn out acceptance. And I definitely prefer a quick rejection to a slow one. You can send the haiku out again once they come back. In fact that’s how I ended up with the submission in question – eight of them had been sent out before.

The one that was accepted had been turned down once before, which just goes to show…something…

I’m not sure what.

And yes, it is another acceptance. I was so convinced it was going to be a No that I spent ten minutes sitting grinning at the screen. I now stand at submissions 10, acceptances 4, rejections 2.

Again, that noise you hear is the smugness alarm.

The rest of the day was truly awful, but who cares.

And back to Sunday

We had a pleasant evening last night with Julia’s brother and his wife. I had a nice steak with chips, onion rings, mushroom, pepper sauce and followed it up with sticky toffee pudding and custard. It was a simple and not particularly healthy meal for a simple and not particularly healthy man.

Due to Julia’s brother’s understanding of discount systems, special offers and loyalty cards, it was half price. Substantial, flavoursome and discounted – what more could you want?

I noticed that due to the lockdown there was no salt, pepper or vinegar on the table. We ordered from paper menus which we were asked to throw in the bin on the way out.

I also had what was referred to as a complimentary salad. At least I assume that was how it was spelt. It didn’t say anything nice to me, so I suppose it was complimentary only in the sense of being (supposedly) free. As it was a steakhouse rather than a food bank, it wasn’t actually free, as they clearly charge for it somewhere along the line.

It certainly wasn’t complementary as it didn’t enhance the steak and chips.

Come to think of it, it wasn’t really a salad either, just a few bits of green leaf and veg in a small pot. I’m not sure where a salad ends and a garnish begins, but I have definitely seen garnishes that were bigger than this “salad”.

Despite this, it was an excellent meal in good company and I’m looking forward to a time when we can go out without having to worry about contracting a fatal infection.

It’s roast veg, pie and gravy tonight. The picture is a library picture so I can post before eating.

Damsons

The bottom picture is the damsons we picked – very nice harvest from a tree in a pot. Not sure if I mentioned them before.

 

Saturday Once More

Yes, it’s Saturday again, and the end of the working week. As I set off to work I will do so knowing that I have a day without supervision (the owner has swapped days and is off today) and several regulars booked in with appointments.

I’m sorry about the abrupt end to yesterday’s post but I woke up with eighteen minutes to go and had to get into action quickly to preserve my record of daily posting. There was no time for elegance, just select an existing image and a few tags before publishing.

If you look at the comments you will notice that Lavinia, Rick and the cats are currently OK, but still ready to move at short notice. Good luck to them all.

I’m writing before leaving because I am going out tonight. It’s against my will, but I’m having to be sociable. Let’s face it, being sociable is against my normal inclinations too, but I am under orders from Julia.

Sadly, I think I just ran out of things to say. I have a lot on my mind this morning and the words are not coming easily. There’s nothing bad on my mind, just remembering to take certain things to work and wondering if there will be a parking space when I get there. The optician’s staff and hairdresser’s clients all seem to think, for instance, that our parking spaces are fair game.

When I win the lottery I’m going to rent 12 cars for a week and park them in the spaces used by people who habitually abuse our spaces.

Money, in case you are wondering, will definitely not make me a nicer person. I’ll just be the same old grouch but will be able to afford more books have a butler to wake me in time to finish my blog posts properly.

Fish & Chip Friday

I must admit I woke with worries about the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm. I know they were packed and ready to move as the fires advanced, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them all. Ideally the fires will magically die out as they get closer to the farm but I fear this may not be the case.

Julia had set her clock for 6.30 and I wasn’t able to get back to sleep, which allowed me more time to listen to the news. It seems that this country has sunk so low that even American politicians feel able to take the moral high ground from us.

I Googled “honest politician” and did find this man, so all is not yet lost. I do love this quote:

“People of Kentucky, you deserve complete honesty, so here it is. I don’t care about you. Unless you are a donor, a lobbyist who can write a big fat check, the result that you get from voting for me is negligible.”

If the Americans don’t want him, can we have him for the UK. I’d happily vote for him. As for the rest of them, I’m seriously thinking of giving up voting as it only encourages them.

We sold one thing overnight on eBay and another during the day, the second day in a row this has happened. It’s not good. We also got two stupid offers from people. I was on my best behaviour when I declined them, even though they were just wasting my time.

I then went shopping, ate chips, fell asleep in the chair and woke up just in time to post.