I forgot to tell you about something good that happened on Thursday – I finally remembered to order my new prescription from the surgery. I’d meant to do it at the weekend, but I kept forgetting. That isn’t the good bit, though, the good bit was that I remembered my username and password two months after I last used them. This probably says as much about my very simp[le password as it does about my memory, but it was still a pleasant surprise. maybe my faculties aren’t universally deteriorating.
The usual story is that every time I use a password I forget it and, next time, have to get a replacement. I spoke to Number One Son about this and he tells me he doesn’t bother remembering passwords most of the time as it’s so easy to get a replacement.
Talking of which, I looked up an article on the subject of passwords a while ago. I don’t think I wrote about it but the results made me shake my head in disbelief. Most of them are stupidly simple, even by my standards, I looked at a second list and have to say that Number 86 rang a few bells. It’s interesting to see that there are others who share my hatred of aspects of the internet. I’m told that British codebreakers of WW2 were given lists of German swear words, as German soldiers, like me, were given to profanity when thinking of passwords. I notice echoes of this on the current list of most common German passwords. It might be the same in all countries, but I am not able to swear in all languages.
Actually, I see I can recognise at least one Spanish swear word and that the Italian for password is password. At least the French go with motdepasse.
There will be a break of a few seconds now – I need to alter the password for my banking details. I wasn’t very happy with them last time I had to alter it.
Finally, it seems that the best way to ensure password safety is to use a password management system. I always thought that was a way of having all your passwords lifted in one go, so I’m not going to rush into it. I will, however, be looking at the patterns I use to produce passwords.
Just one more thing before I go, I know I said I was going to stop doing this, but have a look at this month’s Failed Haiku. I’m near the top this time. (That’s Simon Wilson for those of you who don’t remember). Most poets adopt a meaningful and mysterious name for their poetry and use the boring one for everyday life – just one more way I have got it wrong. I’m near the top, in case you are wondering, because I got my submission in early – it’s about speed rather than quality.
It was another day of manic activity as we kept getting orders from the new sales initiative. I quite like the active days, though it would be nice to have a little variation in pace.
The day started off with my second failed blood test in two weeks. I am consistently coming in too high and actually climbing as they seek to adjust the dose downwards. I’m not sure why this is happening but I suspect it might b because I started making an effort to do things properly. Instead of drifting on and forgetting to take my pills or taking them late, I am establishing a routine and I wonder if this means I have effectively increased the does without meaning too. I’m not taking supplements, I haven’t changed any medication and I haven’t ben eating huge amounts of green vegetables, which can all affect it. Whatever has caused it, the slow reduction by one tablet a week, as they have done this week, isn’t going to see it corrected any time soon.
Yesterday, I had an email headed “Congratulations”. Normally I’m wary of them because they usually contain details of how lucky I am to have been chosen to launder the estate of a deceased African politician. Presumably, the way things have been going, they will soon be inviting me to launder the estates of corrupt Tory supporters who have amassed illicit millions by making PPE for the NHS.
This one was from the British Haiku Society. I entered their annual competition and the results are out. According to the results there were 587 haiku, 164 tanka and 71 haibun entered. I am one of the top five haibun. I wasn’t 1st or 2nd but I did get an Honourable Mention which means I have a certificate and a free book.
The strange thing is that the one I did all the work on made no impact but the successful one was one which had only been returned by an editor the week before. I tweaked it a bit, in line with his comments, and sent it off to the competition. It just goes to show, as I have said before, that I am not a good judge of my own writing.
Lat night I wrote a list of ideas when I was looking for subjects to write about. I ended up with eleven, which grew to twelve when I decided to write about writing a list of things to write about. Ideas, as I may have said before, are not difficult to come by. I could probably have thought of 20-30 more, but I find that having too many ideas is not always a good thing. If you have too many the quality tails off and you never get to the end of the list.
I meant to start using them last night but by the time I’d written the blog post and edited work in progress, I ran out of energy. This morning I started with some reading and commenting and have just looked at the list un front of me.
Twelve ideas became ten because two are undecipherable. That became eleven when I remembered what one of them was, and twelve when I decided that writing about bad handwriting could replace the idea I couldn’t read.
As I said, I don’t lack ideas, just the ability to turn ideas into results. I think I may have told you we once had a meeting on the farm and someone said, with a perfectly straight face, “My talent is having ideas, rather than doing things. If you want any ideas I have plenty of them.”
If you’ve ever been on a committee I think you probably agree that talk and ideas are never in short supply. One person putting one idea into action, that’s what’s in short supply.
On that subject, what happens next? Well, I have twelve ideas. You are reading the result of one of them. Four of them have moved on to be the prose sections of haibun. Three of them now have lines of poetry attached. Two of them will become blog posts. One, I have not developed, but will do. The twelfth, which was going to be about the trials of being a prince with a trophy wife and a massive trust fun, doesn’t really appeal. I am going to cross that one off. Sometimes you realise you just don’t want to develop an idea.
The next stage is typing the haibun prose and the first drafts of the blog posts. Some results will be good, some not so good. It’s all a process of natural wastage. Eventually twelve ideas will be turned into a few finished pieces and the rest will be used as spare parts for other things.
This is a haibun that was published in The Haibun Journal. It’s a print journal and I wasn’t able to link to the haibun at the time as they don’t appear online. I thought its time had come, because the Six Nations Championship is underway so the subject of rugby seemed appropriate. It’s also a bit of light relief at a time of lockdown and news about irrelevant royalty.
It is set in Mrs Botham’s Tearoom in Whitby. They don’t generally have a harpist, but they did on this particular visit. I enjoyed eating crab sandwiches whilst listening to harp music. In my mind the haibun is dedicated to the two ex-players in the tearoom who both smiled and whispered to their long-suffering wives when the tune started.
I learned a lesson in persistence for this submission. I submitted three haibun and had one accepted, which is general practice as most magazines only take one haibun per writer per issue. Sometimes, of course, they don’t take any.
One of the rejects was sent out straight away with a quick spruce up, I agreed to a couple of edits and it appeared in an online journal shortly after. The other was sent out three more times before being accepted last week..
I think this is the only time I’ve managed to place an entire submission of three – normally I give up if one keeps coming back.
Another place, another time
We climb the stairs to the tearoom above the cake shop. The presence of a stairlift reveals much about the age of the clientele.
In the subdued lighting, we move back to a time of elegance. People pour their tea from plated teapots emblazoned with the teashop name. Hot water jugs are de rigeur. In the corner a harpist plays.
The tune she was playing was, my wife said, with a note of warning in her voice, called The Ash Grove, but I remembered it better as a traditional rugby song about the Mayor of Bayswater. He had, as I recall, a pretty daughter. Judging by several strained expressions around the place, I was not the only one. It was like a trumpet call to an old warhorse.
wives’ fixed smiles
the husbands remember
It i now just after midday and it is probably time to take stock.
I delivered Julia to work this morning. Traffic was heavier than usual, which was probably due to the return to school, though it could just be that Monday is usually busier in general. I have no way of measuring, but the queue in a couple of places was a little longer than usual. It might just appear heavier because I was expecting it to be. I really ought to devise an accurate system of measurement.
On the way back I went to Lidl as we need bread and I like their bakery. I’ve been avoiding it lately, but you have to go out at some time.
As usual, I observed some selfish parking. A single man in a Range Rover parked in a parent and child space (we didn’t have them in my day, we just had to learn how to control children and shopping at the same time!) I don’t see why anyone needs a Range Rover if they live in town. I don’t see why Range Rover owners can’t walk a few yards extra. And I definitely don’t know why he felt it necessary to park at an angle so that a corner of his vehicle jutted into the corner of the parking spot next to him. Somehow, I always asu8me that if you have the money to buy a big car and fuel it that you should know how to drive. I am clearly wrong.
Again, in the absence of a proper measuring system I can’t say this was the worst parking I’ve ever seen. How does it compare, for instance, with a small car parking across two disabled spaces whilst playing loud music? So many variables.
I bought the usual selection – sandwich baguettes, chocolate brownies, ham offcuts for sandwiches and mini cucumbers, which Julia likes with her sandwiches. She actually ordered some plants yesterday to grow her own this summer.
I then sat down to write. I finalised a selection of haiku, which needed to be sent before the 15th. That is now done. I’ve submitted to that magazine before and expect I will be making a contribution to my target of 100 rejections quite soon.
After that I settled down to some “ordinary” poetry. At the moment I’m writing by setting ideas down and adding to them. When they are about the right length I check I have everything I need – theme, detail, ambiguity- then I start pruning and refining. I have two or three on the go, in various stages of completion and it’s feeling good. I’m pinning a lot of hope on my ordinary poetry to bring in the 100 rejections.
I then twiddled around with ome tidying of folders, made a cup of tea, browsed the internet and skimmed a book that arrived last week. I answered a phone call from a very nice lady who wanted to help me extend the warranty of my washing machine. Regular readers, who know we use the launderette for washing, will realise she was unlikely to succeed, and thi proved to be the case.
That’s it for now. I’m going to make lunch, using a liquidised vegetable stew and I will then start rounding up some haiku for another submission. If I get that done, I will have a go at refining some haibun and writing a couple of new prose sections.
After I pick Julia up I will have come full circle and that brings us back to the chocolate brownies. I will miss my Mondays when I have to go back to full-time work.
After a hard day sitting in a cold shop and drinking coffee, I thought i’d have a serious go at getting some work done when I got home. I was just getting into my stride when the phone rang. That took a half hour chunk out of my evening. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed talking about coins and collecting, but it’s just brought me to a standstill.
I now need to start cooking is we are going to eat before the grocery order arrives. But if I don’t write the blog first I’ll end up like I have done on the last few nights, with limited time and not much thought.
I do have quite an interesting post in preparation (well, I find it interesting) but it needs some work and I can’t concentrate if I’m rushed. It will have to go away again and I will have another go tonight when I’m not pressed for time.
Today’s post was interesting. tI had a mysterious envelope which turned out to have an anthology of haibun in it. This comes free with my membership of the British Haiku Society. I thought I really should rejoin, after a break of 14 years. I had the journal last week, so I really am up to the eyeballs in Japanese poetry.
I also had a novel called Splash!, which I hadn’t heard of until now. It’s from the Book Club Number One Son signed me up for as a Christmas present. It’s good to read things that different from normal. I can’t recall the last time I read a work of fiction without at least one body and a butler.
Finally there was a book I bought for myself (yes, I know…) – Regency Spies. It is not to be confused with a series of Regency romances that crop up when you Google it. But, for now, I’d better get on with the cooking.
Editors seem to be busy at the moment. I have now had replies to all four of my January submissions. One, as you know, resulted in an acceptance, and one in a rejection with helpful editorial comments. The third is in limbo until the end of january, when the submission period ends, and the fourth has just come back with “helpful editorial comments”. I’ve put that in quotes as I am thinking of adopting it as an alternative to saying I’ve had a rejection.
I may, in future grade levels of response as “rejection”, “helpful editorial comment” and “acceptance”. This means that instead of being split equally between positive and negative results I can now claim that 66.6% of the results are positive, so call me an optimist and change my name to Pollyanna.
For any superstitious numerologists who may be reading, I admit that 66.6 might not be a good number to use. However, 66.6 isn’t actually the Number of the Beast, but 10% of it. Bearing in mind my retail background I can’t help thinking of it as the Discount of the Beast.
(Yes, before somebody corrects me, I do realise that other commentators believe the number is actually 616, but I’m traditional in matters of theology and superstition.)
In line with my new positive outlook I won’t even tell you what the situation is with the car. Let’s just say it’s hard to find anything upbeat or cheerful to say.
Some good news is that Julia has been given a projected vaccination date – early February. By March she should be reasonably well protected against COVID. This will be good. Meanwhile, I will stay at home, unvaccinated, and enjoy my holiday, which is also good.
It was all going too well. I made lunch (which included Ryvita crispbreads instead of ordinary bread), I washed up and I cooked the evening mal ready for when Julia returns. It’s panhaggerty, though I’m not going to melt the cheese on top – too much fat, too many calories….
This proved to be the high point of the day.
First, as I opened the fridge door a pyrex plate slid out and smashed on the floor. There were two cold sausages on it, so I invoked the ten second rule and threw them into a pan of hot fat to kill any bacteria from the floor. That meant I had to have a sausage sandwich. So, smashed plate, glass all over the place and my diet gone for a Burton.
As I made the sausage sandwich I looked down on the work surface and realised that I’d left the second layer of bacon out of the panhaggerty. I had to prod it down without disturbing the layers too much. Then, forgetting that I was only wearing socks, I walked across the badly swept area where the plate had smashed. Fortunately the bits I found were only small and they didn’t do any damage, just gave me a bit of a surprise.
Next, it was over to check emails as I ate the sandwich. Part of the sausage fell out o0nto the carpet. I really have been pushing the ten second rule to its limit.
I had two replies from editors. I always think that a quick reply indicates a rejection so I ate the sandwich first. No point in spoiling a good sandwich. The first on was an acceptance, though I sent off ten haiku and three haibun and only had one haiku accepted. It’s not great, but as I spent two years trying to get into the magazine, I’m happy to have had anything accepted at all.
The second one was from my nemesis, the editor who has never accepted anything I’ve ever sent him at either of the magazines he’s been editing when I’ve tried. In a way it’s a comfort to know that in a n ever changing Covid epidemic he still won’t accept any of my work. He did send a few pointers, which is always useful, and always a good sign when an editor takes the time to do it.
The only problem is that I left room for the reader to interpret, as we are advised to do, and he seems to have interpreted it in a way that I didn’t intend. Not quite sure what this means, but I’m left with the impression that my lack of clarity means I’m an even worse writer than mere rejection suggests. I spent several downcast minutes wondering whether to laugh or cry. Then I started laughing and made a cup of tea.
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.