I like being in online journals because I can share the links and show off. I also like being in printed journals, because I like seeing myself on a page, and admire the editors who keep the tradition of print journals going. In the next month or two I’m going to sort out my subscriptions. I think the least I can do is subscribe to 12 different journals. It’s not as if I smoke or drink anymore. All I need to do is spread them out a bit so that I don’t land myself with a big bill one month. Christmas is always a bad time because so many subscriptions to different things fall due at the end of the year. Don’t they ever stop and think about this? Why put all the subscriptions at the most expensive time of the year?
Of course, there’s a certain amount of self-interest at work here, and I will be supporting journals that I’m in, or want to be in. I’m a realist, not a saint…
Meanwhile, I have a few pieces from print journals that are probably old enough to be reprinted on the blog. I’ll sort them out in the next week or so.
Despite the first part of the day consisting of a mathematically implausible three halves, I did have a plan for the next bit of the day, which I’m going to describe as “bit” because it saves me having to be accurate.
The plan was to go home, write, wash up and make stew for tea. It also included, after my talk with the doctor, eating eggs for lunch and not sleeping in front of daytime TV whilst watching quiz with my lunch. Next time, I’m going to eat lunch at the computer.
It’s has all come to pass, apart from the not sleeping bit, but instead of being 5 o’clock, as planned, it is seven o’clock. As days off go, it has been OK, but not hugely productive. However, I have had another acceptance, this time from Wales Haiku Journal. It will be published in the next two weeks and is a haiku of eleven words. It almost feels like cheating to claim I’m having a poem published when it’s only 11 words long, but as Mark Twain said:
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
Brevity can be tricky.
I now have a nine rejected haiku which can be sent out again. Just because they have been rejected doesn’t mean they are bad. I’ve shown that before, with many pieces. As it is, I have ten ready to go to another magazine and if everything goes as it normally does, and they take one, as they often do, I will have 18 haiku looking for a home. It’s amazing how they mount up. That’s how it goes – one day you have nothing, next day you have too many. It’s a shame that the same doesn’t apply to £10 notes.
I’m off to eat stew now, I’ll see you all tomorrow.
The haiku features a robin, so that’s the reason for the picture.
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 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.
Life is a bit dull at the moment. It’s like my normal life but with added tedium and a dash of boredom thrown in. Of course, if it were exciting it would probably be worse. Excitement, in the form of boundary disputes, car breakdowns and pandemics, is not good either. I know I should be grateful for the monotony, but when the most exciting event of the week is watching Sharpe on TV, there is something wrong.
I really need to do more writing, send more submissions out and start playing editor roulette again. There’s nothing quite like a rejection letter for rousing the passions as yet one more philistine fails to appreciate your endeavours. Ans similarly, there’s nothing quite so worrying as an acceptance, meaning ta the whole world is about to laugh at you when they see your work and realise it’s rubbish.
Currently I don’t have too much out, just two competition entries, one lot of haibun and an article. The competition entries are doomed, they always are. The haibun are currently under consideration and the article is, I think, doomed. There’s going to be very little in the way of excitement coming from there.
There isn’t much coming up in the next month in the way of deadlines, though the month after that is going to be busy. I am preparing my material for March and April, but I am, unfortunately, not the most industrious of men unless I have a deadline coming up.
I was reading an essay by a writer of haiku recently, in which he notes that most of his haiku have been in progress for about a year by the time he gets round to finishing them. He is quite clearly a patient and focussed man. I, of course, am not, and should probably go back to writing clerihews.
Ambitious PM Boris Johnson
had trouble keeping his pants on.
Thanks to Dominic Cummings
he now looks a bit of a muggins
I have now managed to do a few things on yesterday’s list.
I have rung the Pharmacy – got straight through this time – and given them my PORN number. If you wonder what that is (and it probably isn’t what you’re thinking) you can read it in yesterday’s post.
I have also reset my OU password and had a quick look at where I am. Having done the courses What is Poetry? and War Memorials and Commemoration, I am 31% of the way through Approaching Poetry. I haven’t done anything since 16th December, when the great password purge locked me out and ignored me over Christmas, so I’m going to have to redo the 31% to get back up to speed. I may well go through the others too, just to brush up.
As a third thing, which I should have done, but didn’t list, I have sorted out my first published haiku. I needed it for something else and also needed to check submission dates for Wales Haiku Journal. Having done all that, I thought, I may as well give it an airing alongside a couple of almost relevant photos.
I have been working towards deadlines of 25th and 31st January, thinking I had plenty of time. I don’t. It’s 21st today and I am badly prepared for 25th. I have the material, but it needs a final polish. I’m actually better prepared for the 31st, having two of the three submissions to go. Only the third needs work, the main problem being that I haven’t decided which is going to be the third piece.
With that in mind, I had better go and do some work on that instead of messing around with haiku and photos.
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.
Two days ago I published a link to my latest published haibun. That night I had an email to discuss some changes to a submission I’d made just before Christmas. I’ve made them so I’m hoping for an acceptance there. Then last night I had a n acceptance for four poems. They are senryu rather than haiku (based on human nature rather than nature) but the line is blurred in English language Japanese-style poetry. It was a bit unexpected as I’ve never been much good with the short poems and, to be honest, never expect much. To have four accepted at one time is close to being unbelievable, and puts my total of short poems published (well, theoretically published – they won’t actually be published until next month) up from two to six, which is a big jump.
It’s quite a good way to end the year – all I need to do now is find a good way to start the New Year.
It goes to show what happens when you set your mind to something. I had a rest at the beginning of the year. I had had a series of rejections, one of my favourite magazines closed and there was a change of editor at another one – a man who has never accepted anything from me, and continues to accept nothing from me. I admit I did give up for a time, but you can’t keep a good man down and at the end of July, after a lapse of nearly a year, I started submitting again.
Twenty submissions. Nine acceptances. This includes an acceptance from a magazine that turned me down three times previously.
The moral of the story is never give up. And if you do give up, remember that you can always start again. It’s not meant to be easy.
This is a lesson that can be applied to many things, and one which I really ought to remember, because I’m very bad at letting things lapse.
Latest News – just had confirmation the changes are acceptable and I therefore have another acceptance. This is a good end to the year.