Tag Archives: fountain pen

Cyanosis and a Senior Moment

I have, as I may have said once or twice recently, been struggling for inspiration, enthusiasm or the ability to think clearly. I have also been suffering from cyanosis. For the last few days. In some ways this is a bit of a relief, as at least I can blame lack of oxygen for my problems, which have, so far, been confined to blue lips. There are a number of causes, and they aren’t all serious, so I consulted Julia about it. Obviously, if I’m going to die, I have to tell her what my computer password is.

So, there I was, with  a grave demeanour and a serious tone, explaining that my blue lips could be a sign that she might be a widow this time next week when she started laughing.

It wasn’t quite the reaction I’d hoped for, but I suppose we all have our own ways of coping with bad news.

“Are you sure it doesn’t have anything to do with cleaning your fountain pens?”

I was about to deny it when I realised that my method of getting pens to write (by licking the nib to persuade the ink to flow) has ben linked to blue lips in the past. My cleaning method, which involves soaking the pens and blowing water through them, also involves lips and blue ink. It had also involved a few sharp words this week, as it resulted in blue blotches on the work tops. I gave them a final blow through this morning, which was when I noticed the cyanosis again (having first noticed it on Friday after licking the nibs of two pens).

It’s likely that this is one of the less serious cases of cyanosis and we won’t require a doctor. I will however, keep a close eye on things just in case. The pens, in case you were wondering, are both writing well.

 

 

 

Wednesday (Reprise)

As I’m becoming more successful as a poet I have decided I need to start using bigger words, so there’s no more (Part 2) for me.

Although, there are signs that all is not well in the land of art and poetry.

First of all we have imposter syndrome. This is the nagging feeling at the back of your mind that things aren’t quite right and you are going to get found out. It’s all very well getting a few bits published, but what happens if someone asks you a question using a Japanese word you don’t understand?

This could easily happen because apart from sayonara, banzai and sushi I don’t tend to recognise many Japanese words. I know there are words to do with punctuation, the seasons and a sense of loss, which are all used in writing haibun, but I couldn’t actually tell you which was which if you asked me.

The main problem is that I don’t actually know how I do it. I just sit down with a pen and paper (it has to be a pen and paper, I can’t generally manage to do it on the computer). This is one of those strange things – I can blog on the computer and I can do articles on the computer, but haibun, haiku and poems need pen and paper.  Not only that but a fountain pen is better than a biro. I’m not sure why, that’s just how it is.

I think part of it is that the computer gives me more ability to correct things, which leads to me correcting more than I actually write.

Second – I’ve just had my fastest ever rejection. One of my submissions has been out for six weeks. If they run true to form the magazine will be in touch soon with a gentle rejection. I’m expecting that.

What I wasn’t expecting was one of the others from yesterday to reject me inside 24 hours. You can’t complain about the speed of editors these days – three submissions yesterday and I already have one acceptance and one rejection.

The difference is that the acceptance sparks up the worries about being found to be a fraud. The swift rejection tends to reinforce this. Not only did they not like it, but there was so little merit in it that they had to get it off the premises as soon as possible before it turned any other submissions bad.

If I’d sent it in on the last few days of the submission window I could have said that it came back so quickly because they were full. But when you send it in on the first day and get it back on the second day of the submission window you can feel fairly certain that they didn’t like it.

I suppose you can’t expect too much, as the next acceptance will be my 13th Japanese style poem to be accepted. If it ever is. Assuming that I can’t bring the mood down with imposter syndrome I may as well use superstition.

 

Thoughts on writing

I missed my  deadline last night, just fell asleep in front of the TV as I drank a cup of tea and woke up minutes after midnight. I loaded the photos, posted, and found that although I was annoyed at missing the cut, it didn’t really matter.

I might be finding it hard to cut down on blogging, but I am, at least, managing to keep up the writing challenge I have set myself. One haibun essay, ten haiku and a poem a day. I did try writing a longer blog post on this subject but it quickly became dull, as mentioned here, so it remains in draft. After the 100 Day Challenge I’m only thinking of doing this for a month. A hundred days was gruelling.

The general idea is that I will use the practice challenge to gain more fluidity in writing and to build up ideas. If anything good comes out of it that will be a bonus.The haibun essays are generally usable, and some of the haiku aren’t too bad but the poems are mainly rubbish. With practice this may change.

I seem to remember from rugby training that it’s important to practice doing things perfectly, but with writing it’s slightly different as part of this is about overcoming the internal editor. There are a lot of ways to switch the internal editor off, and many posts. The one I’ve linked to there was at the top and was as good as any.

The best way I have found of switching of the internal editor is to write and keep writing, Don’t go back unless you spot a typo, and if you miss it don’y go back just because there’s a red squiggle in the text. You can do that later. I’ve just been back and fixed five typos in that paragraph. I’m not very accurate, but the inaccuracy doesn’t really affect the sense of the words.

I’ve often thought of writing a post and not sorting the typos. There are always some I miss anyway (I just re-read a post from four years ago and found a “their” where there should have been a “there”). I’m sure if I did that most of you would be able to read it OK. I’m told that as long as you have the first and last letters in place the brain will mostly sort out the rest.

Another thing I find is that the writing equipment affects the fluency of my writing. For haibun and poetry fountain pen is better than biro. Both are better than word processor.

Strangely, I can blog directly from the key board. In fact that’s the easiest way. Same with articles. It must be the way my brain works. Or doesn’t work.

A big stumbling block with my writing is the copying from longhand onto the computer. I really do not enjoy that bit, even though it isn’t really that onerous. It’s a few poems, not chunks of text. It’s not like actually doing any work.

The Story of My Life

I was searching through old files in the Documents File and found one I’d started about a year ago – “Life Story”. I’d started it, inspired by various blogs, but had let it drop and forgotten all about it.

I will quote it.

Chapter One

That was all there was. I can’t tell you if there was ever more than that as I just don’t remember.

Let’s be clear – I always have trouble starting things, and the style of a chapter heading takes thought. I’m never sure whether to go for Chapter One, Chapter 1 or simply 1. It all depends on the measure of gravitas you are aiming for. What works for a modern novel isn’t necessarily going to convey the full depth of dignity required for the autobiography of a middle-aged man with a beard and a fountain pen. However, even by my standards, writing a chapter heading and calling it a day is very lazy.

I mention the fountain pen because writing, in my imagination, always features a fountain pen. It also features a big desk in a library, a summer’s day and open French windows. There would be fruit trees in the garden and pen stand on the desk.

A book I once read told me that if I really wanted something I should visualise it in minute detail. It doesn’t seem to be working. I can imagine it, but apart from the fountain pen I’m having trouble putting the rest together. We do have a temperamental plum tree and a few small trees in pots (apple, damson and fig) but I can’t actually see them when I sit down to write.

Anyway, the story of my life. I think I’ve already summed it up – good intentions, unfinished projects and poor visualisation skills.

One of the reasons, apart from idleness, I didn’t go any further is that I haven’t really done anything interesting enough to merit a book. To make it more interesting I would have to delve into my subconscious and try to make it into the misery memoir section. Unfortunately my parents, by failing to either beat or abandon me, didn’t do me any favours there.

If I had my time again I’d be much more irritating as a child and see if I could build up some misery for future use. Failing that I’d have to do something notable and become a celebrity.

In 1968 I won a prize in the Brooke Bond essay writing competition, but I’m not sure it’s enough of an achievement to hang a set of memoirs on. I noticed from a quick search of the internet that Janet Street-Porter won an earlier Brooke Bond competition. She gets 50 words out of it. Even if I pad it out that would leave me around 79,900 words short. She, however, has done quite a lot more than me, so has plenty to fill her book.

The obvious answer is to make something up, but even the fraudulent memoir market seems to be overcrowded. As they seem to have missed Grey Owl out, it could be even more congested than the link suggests.

I’m faced with two possibilities here – one being to do something energetic and outlandish like cycling from Land’s End to John o’ Groats on a Penny Farthing with a fridge strapped to my back. That’s entry level for a memoir by a non-celebrity these days.

Another is to do something famous. I see that I am, for instance, more likely to win an Olympic Gold Medal than win the lottery. Even so, the chances are 1 in 662,000 so this could be tricky.

The article actually says “The chances of the average person winning an Olympic gold medal in their lifetime are 1 in 662,000.”

Am I the only one wondering what the chances of someone winning one not in their lifetime?

That really would make me a celebrity.