Tag Archives: editing

Writing Haibun – Warning – May Cause Drowsiness

Saturday 2nd January has proved to be a quiet day. After writing my first post of the day I edited some of my notebooks, browsed some on-line shops and washed up. I moved on to editing my notebooks – typing out three haibun and twelve haiku. They started off as seven haibun and twenty two haiku but some of them were rubbish. I think I must have written one of the haibun while I was asleep as it made no sense at all, and one of the others was so tedious it was probably the one that had sent me to sleep. Several of the haiku were just alternative versions, so one of them had to go.

And, I confess, two of the haiku were unreadable. I think I’ve covered this before. My writing is so bad I( cannot always read it shortly after I write it. Some of these were weeks old and I didn’t have a clue what they had originally been about. I came close to abandoning a haibun too, but there were enough legible/guessable words for me to reconstitute that one.

My Orange Parker Pen

That was all the useful work I did. I made lunch after that, using a pack of four small avocadoes. One, which I had tested, was ripe. The other four turned out to be a bit less than ripe, so needed dicing more than mashing. Julia wanted hers with a poached egg so I boiled the water, swirled it round and gently tipped an egg into it. I think the egg may have been a bit old, and the water may have been swirling a bit too fast as the whole thing seemed to explode in the minute I was away from the pan. I just had a pan of highly dilute scrambled egg. The second, was better, but I cooked it in the bowl of a metal ladle just to be on the safe side.

Fried eggs would have been better but a poached egg seems de rigueur in smashed avo circles so who am I to disagree. I had prawns in mine with a dressing made from ketchup, mayonnaise, lemon juice and black pepper, because I am firmly rooted in the 1970s.

Back to the writing for a moment – for the benefit of new readers, I write using a fountain pen whenever I can, because the words flow better. Even a cheap biro is better than typing. I can rarely type haibun and haiku when I am composing. Magazine articles and essays are fine, but poetry seems to demand a proper writing implement. That’s why I have to accept losing a percentage to illegibility. Better to lose  a few that way than to sit staring at a computer screen writing nothing, or writing things which I then edit into nothingness. It may seem inefficient at first, and I have tried to streamline the process, but it just doesn’t work any other way.

For the rest of the day I watched TV, chatted to Julia and dreamed of pizza. Then I woke up, cooked tea (we had steak as a New Year treat) and started writing this.

Failed Haiku Number 61 is out. Mine are about 40% of the way down under “Simon Wilson”. I’ve got so used to my accidental penname on WP that I feel very dull having an ordinary name. I could make it easy for you by just printing them here, but that doesn’t seem fair to the editor and the other writers. Scroll down until, you see the red feather – I’m a few pages under that. Or you can wait for a month and remind me – I will copy them and paste them in the blog once the new issue is out.

I’m now in what I find to be the toughest bit of the process. Writing is simple. Editing it into something readable isn’t too bad as long as you remember not everything is useful and allow yourself to throw stuff away. Editing for submission – the honing and perfecting, is a bit tricky, as I’m not a great judge of quality. Editing after submitting is quite easy – the editor suggests things and I do them. It’s about publication. I will agonise about my artistic integrity later – there are plenty of words and nothing to prevent me writing another version of the poem I want to write. This one is an example – it’s half the poem I originally submitted and misses out what I thought was an important point. However, it is also good like this and the cut down version is more elegant, so I’m happy to make the cuts.I have, however, rewritten another version of the longer poem, which will be submitted to a magazine this month. Even coping with rejection isn’t the worst bit. It’s an inevitable part of writing for publication, so there’s no point taking it personally.

A Tranquil Pond I once wrote about.

No, the most difficult bit for me is submission. I was sure I’d written about this in the last few days but I can’t find it so I may merely have thought about it, or I may have edited it. Sorry if I’m repeating myself.

Once I have things written and (in theory) edited to near perfection, I have to send them out. There are nearly always more places to send poems than I have poems to send. I have seven places for submissions in january. This means I need 16 haibun and twenty haiku.

In theory I have around 40 haibun ready to go, but in reality some of them aren’t good enough to go. A few of them have been returned by one or more editors, so it’s not just me who thinks that. I have, sensibly, about twenty, but then I have to decide which one suits which magazine. The best ones could go almost anywhere, the les good ones need to be placed where they will be most appreciated. At that point I start to ask myself if I should send anything apart from the very best. It’s like a massive circle. Eventually it all sorts itself out (a looming deadline tends to help concentration) and I start on the next lot.

I’ve now one over a thousand words, which I always think is too many, so I will leave it there.

 

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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

Wednesday Night

This morning I wrote several pages of notes, two haibun and five haiku as I sat and waited in the car. That is two haibun and five haiku more than I have managed in the last two days. I’ve been trying to compose on the computer and it just doesn’t work. I can write articles and I can write blog posts, but I just can’t do poetry on the screen.

Give me a sheet of paper and a loaded fountain pen and sometimes, like today, it’s hard to stop me writing. Whether it’s any good or not is a different matter. A quick survey of recent correspondence with editors seems to indicate that opinion is divided.

Ten submissions in the last two months.

One lost in cyberspace.

Three accepted.

Two rejected (one with amazing alacrity).

Four pending.

At that point I decided I should write a poetry post every day, as well as my normal rambling diatribe against modern life. I’m writing enough, so the words wouldn’t be a problem, and may be it’s my chance to grasp a little of the elusive fame that sometimes gathers round a poet.

Tonight, as I sat down to write, i realised that I can’t bring myself to do it.  It’s alright for people who have won prizes or written books, but for someone like me with a patchy publication history it still seems self-indulgent. I don’t want to seem critical of other bloggers, but there’s quite a lot of poetry out there that could do with tightening up. Mine certainly does, so until I reach a higher level I’m going to refrain from self-publishing.

Tonight I finalised a couple of haibun. They have been hanging round for several months and I decided it was time to finish them or put them in the file of fragments. With that in mind, I found things falling into place.

Sometimes it does that, though a poem is never really finished. I can always look back at one and think of a change to make (change, after all is easy, as I often say, it’s improvement that is difficult).

For the moment then, I will confine myself to writing the odd post about poetry, but won’t put any actual poetry in them.

I need to get on now, as I have to write a few more haiku. I’m embarking on the Buson One Hundred again – ten haiku a day for 100 days. Last time I concentrated on fluency and deactivating my internal editor. This time I’m going to try to write something useful.

A hundred days from now is, I think 17th December. It’s not the most inspiring time of year, but I may as well do it while the enthusiasm takes me or I may end up putting it off for another year.

My Orange Parker Pen

As a warning, and to see if you really read to the end, if you see the picture of stones as the featured image it means it’s a poetry post. This gives you a sporting chance to avoid it.

The stones were in the car park at Aldeburgh last time we visited. Despite being just yards from the beach I suspect that the pink granite chippings indicate it has been shipped in from miles away (probably Aberdeen or thereabouts) to surface a car park that is just a yard away from, a massive shingle beach. The round stone, though, probably is from the beach.

 

 

Wednesday

First exciting fact of the day – I’ve discovered a new system for selecting titles for post. It will only last a week before I run into trouble, but it will be good while it lasts. At my age anything that helps to reduce mental wear and tear has got to be good.

Second – I just had my order of reading glasses from Amazon. They aren’t quite like I pictured them from the advertisement, and the spotted front isn’t exactly what I’d expected from glasses marked as “zebra”. I’m going to look like a 1980s advertising executive but for £2 a pair I can put up with that. They are a good size too, as many cheap sets are a bit tight on my big head, which is why they break.

Third, I remembered some of the Monday things I talked about in the Tuesday post before they were lost. I dropped my camera on my big toe (painful blood blister), ordered reading glasses on line for the first time (see point 2) and bought Julia a set of glasses with LED lights to help her with the adult painting-by-numbers kits I bought her to while away the lockdown. She has trouble seeing the tiny, pale grey numbers. So do I, we ended up using a torch and my eyeglass last time we had trouble, hence the sci-fi specs.

The facts have become steadily less exciting as I have gone along, so here’s a better one.

Four, I just had my third acceptance in three weeks. If your computer has a smugness alarm it will probably be sounding any minute…

It’s the first time I’ve ever had three pieces of work queued up awaiting publication. It’s probably linked to the fact that it’s the first time I’ve sent out nine submissions in six weeks.

With this one I had to agree to remove one of the two haiku that was in it and make it all into one paragraph. As I’d only just stuck the second haiku in as part of my last minute tinkering I wasn’t that bothered at removing it.

As for the single paragraph thing, I’ve had that before. Haibun editors don’t like white space and single line paragraphs.

I don’t mind them.

I think they make things easier to read, and add emphasis.

But if an editor suggests something it always seems sensible to accomodate them. They have much more experience than I do, and it’s foolish not to accept the help.

I’m now waiting for answers from several editors who have rejected me in the past. I’m hoping that I’ve improved since last time, but who can tell.

I’m going for the writing picture at the top again, because it’s too annoying to bother with much else at the moment. I have some decluttering waiting, and after that I need to do the online shopping.

 

 

Another Snapshot

Sometimes things just don’t work out.

I had intended to make another short post yesterday evening, with a view to doing three short posts a day for the next few days. I just thought I’d introduce some pace and variety.variety.

So I put the vegetables in the oven and sat down to write. I have a behemoth of a post in preparation and wanted to cut it down from 900 words to 600. I think of 600 words as long enough for someone to plough through. After forty minutes I sat back and looked at the result. It is now 1,100 words and has five extra photographs. Editing is not as easy as it sounds.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t write the post I intended. I am easily distracted.

We ate after that and I had a nap in front of the TV. I woke, read and procrastinated. For the purposes of my diary that counts as three activities. Waking is not as simple as it used to be. For one thing, I don’t become instantly alert as I used to, and for another, it now takes a little more effort to rearrange my limbs.

I have a police procedural on my Kindle and even though it cost nothing I am seriously wondering if it was worth it. There are parts of it where I find myself seriously thinking they should be paying me to read it.

When I accept an award, or a big cheque (I’m not fussy which), for my as yet unwritten prize-winning historical crime novel, I will cite this one as my inspiration. Something along the lines of “I thought if this garbage can get published I really ought to write one myself.”

Tea was roasted vegetables (carrot, leek, parsnip, swede and broccoli) with the last of the gammon and a bit of gravy. Time to cut back on bread and potatoes I think.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gammon, roast veg and gravy

Suddenly I had 300 words, which isn’t short by my standards, and it’s the early hours of the morning. I woke up six hours later and realised that although I’d finished the writing I hadn’t published it. So here it is.

Trousers, Tanks and Troubles

This morning, poised like an elegant crane, I stood on one leg, pointed my toes and slipped my right leg into my trousers. I then did the same with my other leg.

This would have seemed unremarkable a few years ago, but one of the things I seem to have lost over the years is the ability to put my trousers on while standing up. This morning, and the my resemblance to a tai chi master, is not typical.

Normally, Julia tells me, I look like a drunken tramp playing hopscotch. This is partly because I have dodgy joints and partly because I have the wardrobe and facial hair of a man who has seen better days. The joints have been particularly bad in the last week and there have been a couple of days when it looked like the trousers might win.

Fortunately time, rest and paracetamol seem to have done the trick. I didn’t report this earlier in the week as I was already moaning about my man flu. It’s important, I think, not to seem like a complete hypochondriac when blogging. The same goes for food reviews – I only report on virtuous recipes and leave out quite a lot of fried food and cake.

This is also the case with The Presentation, which has eight days to go. Though I tend to report it as a linear process it is more of a zig-zag, and I am struggling to finish. I have a few photos to do, a couple of slides to finish and quite a lot of information to trim.

I have already cut a lot out of the script, but there’s still more to do. It sent Julia to sleep when I talked her through it in the car and I’m afraid that if that is the case it might adversely affect the wakefulness of a group of elderly gents sitting in the semi-darkness.

I am fascinated by the events of 1919, but I don’t suppose this fascination will be shared by everyone. The Government put tanks on the streets to keep order in Glasgow and Liverpool, troops mutinied, revolution was in the air and, as the Irish started their final war against the English, they embarked on a series of Soviets and dairy-based resistance to their capitalist oppressors.

At that point, even I start to run out of interest…

 

 

Coins and the holes where coins used to be…

I’ve been looking back through a few old posts and have noticed that I seem to be running to a pattern. I moan, I rant, I explain why things are chaotic and I discuss the shortcomings of other road users. For variety I sometimes describe how my wife bullies, browbeats or outwits me.

Once in a while I complain about my aches and pains, disparage the medical profession and denigrate editors.

I also have problems with technology. Considering that I have problems with such basic things as sleeping and the use of apostrophes, it’s hardly surprising that technology beats me. I say “beats me”… It doesn’t actually beat me; I have three sledge hammers in the tool shed so in purely physical terms I have the upper hand. I suppose what I mean is that technology confuses me into a state of near surrender, but if the machines ever get too cocky I have the ultimate sanction.

This is actually the start of a post I wrote two days ago. It wasn’t good enough, so I sidelined it, made the sandwiches, played Scrabble against the computer, lost again, and went to sleep.

Tonight I wrote the first few paragraphs of a much better post, and lost it. I’m not actually sure where it went. Here, we return to my earlier thoughts and review my comments on technology. The day when I hammer my computer flat is rapidly approaching.

I have therefore “improved” the previous attempt by throwing half of it away and grafting a few moans on to the end.

Today I spent much of my time in the shop entering cards for coin year sets onto eBay. If you consider coins dull, and I do, then the empty cards for making up year sets are, I promise you, duller.

I have had the results from my last chest X-Ray and it was OK,  I do have a chest. This is handy as it gives me somewhere to keep my lungs, which, in turn, allows me to breathe, an activity considered essential for good health. It also stops your shirt getting messy. Imagine the laundry situation if your lungs were externally mounted.

Unfortunately I failed my last blood test. I do have blood, and it seems to be going round OK, but it seems that I need to talk to a doctor about it. I can do this on the phone but, there was a six day waiting list for a telephone consultation slot. I take it that there is nothing urgent about whatever problem their expensive testing machinery has come up with.

And that is why I find it reasonably easy to criticise doctors.

I now have a new date with the specialist and am hoping that in four weeks I may have a diagnosis. I bet they are going to tell me I have arthritis. I know this because it is following exactly the same path as my last outbreak. The difference is that it took just over a week to sort it out last time and it will have taken about eleven this time.

I have added a few coins to the end, as a relief from the hundreds of empty holes staring from the other pictures like hundreds of dead eye sockets. There’s a Battle of Hastings 50p, a Magna Carta £2 and moon landing £5 from Guernsey,

The £5, which is from 10 years ago shows early use of colour, which later became the garishly awful later use of colour. It doesn’t look the thin end of a wedge does it?.