Last night, feeling pleased with myself, I hit a seam of inspiration and wrote notes as I was on the point of falling asleep. his is what proper writers do. So, two things went right – one, I relaxed and became inspired and two, I had a notebook and pen ready.
Just one problem – I can’t read the notes. At the best of times, as I may have said before, I have trouble reading my own writing. It looks like a lazy worm has escaped from an ink pot and made loops on the page. That’s why I generally write in capitals, even if it does end up looking like a ransom demand.
When I am close to sleep it gets worse. I can’t remember what I was thinking and I definitely can’t read it. I am sure none of my thoughts included the words “blessed treehouse stargazer”, “print out the smell lads” or “listed in retinue meat”. It is, however, possible that some future notes may include them because the three of them offer a range of bizarre possibilities.
So, even before starting to write, I seem to have failed. From this I take the lesson that all late night notes should be written in block capitals.
Who would have thought that reading your own writing would be such a problem? Maybe, in years to come, quercusisms (unintentionally amusing poetry resulting from the inability to read your own scrawl) may join malapropisms, spoonerisms and mondegreens in the list of literary mishaps.
In the meantime, I will learn my lesson and start printing my late night notes – I can’t afford to lose inspiration to poor penmanship.
I wrote a 350 word post earlier. It was about the GP surgery not having my blood test paperwork sorted despite me organising it three days ago. Then it went on to discuss the pharmacy and the lie they told me about texting me when my prescription was ready this afternoon. I feel you’ve heard the same complaints before so after ridding myself of the burden, I consigned it to WP limbo and decided to move on. I moved as far as the cooker, then as far as my seat in front of the TV. There I stayed for a while. I am now back writing a new post, and hoping that it’s going to be more interesting than the previous list of complaints.
It is ten months since I started taking poetry writing more seriously and in that time I have made 39 submissions. It’s going to be a bit of a slog raising that to a hundred a year, because I already feel that I spend a lot of time writing. I’m in the middle of a good patch at the moment – plenty of successful attempts with an even spread of rejection to keep my feet on the ground.
When I get a cluster of rejections I always start to think I’ll never be accepted again, and when I have a good run of acceptances I worry that it can’t last forever. It is also the case that after a run of acceptances the next rejection hits harder. The mind of a writer is a strange thing.
I need two sets of submissions in the next couple of weeks – one to a magazine where I have had some minor success and one where I have had no success at all since a change of editor. I had a look through my list of pending/unfinished/work in progress and decided that there is very little there of any merit. I need a surge of enthusiasm and a flash of inspiration to set me going again.
I have hit on a productive creative strategy – thinking whilst putting my socks on. After a certain amount of success with the technique yesterday, I managed to think about three projects this morning, including synopses and a few lines. Full of confidence, I set off down the stairs and, en route, completely forgot one of the pieces. Not only can I not recall the plan and lines, I can’t even remember the subject.
Fortunately two of them survived and the lesson about always having a pen and notebook available has been driven home. The trouble is that I either find myself with no notebook or too many notebooks. I am actually struggling with too many at the moment. I completed taking the notes from one last night but have one big book to do next and a few shorter notes to retrieve from other books. I can have as many as six or seven other books – upstairs, car, work, desk, living room, spares…
Then. like this morning, I can have none where I want them.
Nothing much else has happened today. I’ve dressed, thought, made two of the three notes I meant to make, had breakfast, read a few poems, checked a few things on Wiki, wrote a comment on a website and wrote this. Time goes, but nothing of consequence has been done.
I will now have another cup of tea, sit by the fire with an A4 pad and start to plan. After lunch (which will probably be soup and sandwiches) I must do something of consequence.
Alternatively I may watch Murder She Wrote.
“ It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
I’m feeling like I’m in the middle of a desert at the moment. Inspiration for both blog and haibun is thin on the ground and just as I wrote some new haibun, I stopped thinking of subjects for blog posts. You may have noticed.
The old Field of Dreams approach to ideas (if you write it, they will come) has let me down recently. I know that ideas are supposed to flow more freely as you have them, and that there is an infinite supply of ideas out there, but every so often, it stops. My notebooks tell the story – dozens of two line entries, scribbled out. This is the internal editor in full swing.
It’s probably confidence. When you are being published on a regular basis you relax and write things knowing that you can go back to them. When you hit a slump you get less relaxed and start becoming more critical. That’s what happened with the haibun. In the case of the blog I merely sit here staring at a screen and think “2,000 posts, what can I possible write that’s new?” I can’r even add photos because the system tends to freeze when I try, and even when they load I can’t see them. I know that I’m loading the photos for others to see, but it’s still hard to stay motivated if I can’t see them myself.
Domestic life is not offering much of interest (at the back of my mind there’s a light flashing on and off warning me that the wedding anniversary is coming up and I have nothing planned, but that is, to be fair, not unusual). We have been married over 11,000 days and I’m not sure I make every one of them a joy for Julia. Corona virus is an old subject, work is just work and little is happening there which hasn’t happened before.
Two of those things may be linked – corona virus is stopping us doing a lot of things, and a trip to Derbyshire for tea, cake and jewellery would solve the wedding anniversary problem, it’s just that we shouldn’t really be travelling.
Deep down, I come to a question. What do I write for? I’d be interested in the answers of other people on that, just to see how many reasons there are.
I write because I’m addicted. Deep down, I just can’t stop. In my teens I wanted to write as a career, to earn money and to attend literary lunches. I’m still not clear what a literary lunch is, but I knew that writers went to them.
Writing come and goes in my life. At one time I had so much on with two kids participating in sports that I didn’t have time for much writing, apart from endless match reports. That started when I volunteered to do the match reports for the Under 12s. They went well. Nobody noticed my grip of rugby wasn’t all it could be, and everybody liked seeing their kid get their name in print. Then the Under 10s asked if I would do their reports too, as the parent doing them was writing five line reports which mentioned his kid three times and his kids’s best mate twice and did little for team unity. My reports, even when I wasn’t there to watch, were regarded as more accurate than his.
Here, in case you ever need it, is my template for a junior match report.
Start with “Fixtures between Nottingham and X are traditionally hard fought/one-sided/a waste of my Sunday morning” (you may want to gloss that one up a little).
Move on to “Things started briskly/slowly, with both teams testing the opposition.”
Add “from the set piece”, “turnover ball”, “against the head”, “blindside” and “effort” in varying proportions.
Use the words “cynical” and “lucky” in relation to the opposition. Your team are “well-drilled” and “reap the rewards of hard work in training”.
Mention every child by name. Yes, it’s difficult. Only five of them are any good, with ten average players making up the numbers. You will also have several players who are there because their dad insists, one or two who are there because this is the only sport for fat kids and one who is so uncoordinated he has trouble walking in a straight line. Two mentions if they were really good, three only if they score a hat-trick. You need a full squad, and it’s mainly about effort and being with your mates. They all turn up, they all freeze, they all deserve a mention.
Do not criticise the referee, the opposition, the opposition parents, the parents of the referee, or anyone else. The report, amongst other things, is about building character and manners.
Thank the referee whenever possible. If he has been so bad it might seem sarcastic to thank him, you may omit this step. Very few referees step onto the pitch intending to be bad, and they are giving up their free time so that junior sport can go ahead. I say “few” as several parents and coaches ref matches with the sole intention of cheating their way to victory. I saw three of these in ten years, so they are very rare. See Point 6.
Stress team work, praise effort, point out the successful coaching points, thank the parents, thank the catering.
Feel free to quote sporting memoirs and poetry. This is particularly true when you want to add something uplifting after a heavy defeat in freezing mud. In general, Kipling and the Victorians did some good quotes. It’s best to avoid poems that feature words like Devizes and Nantucket as they encourage unfortunate rhymes. They are all very well in the clubhouse on a Saturday night, but not in a junior match report.
Add a selection of stats at the bottom of the page, including the names again, and remind them about training times, the next match, subscriptions and anything else they like to ignore, like when it’s your turn to run the kitchen or the car parking. Parents have busy lives and tend to forget that sort of stuff.
That, I think, completes the post. It grew out of a random word and I am going to have to write a second part to finish it off. Sorry if it wandered off subject a bit.
This is my version of the Random Idea Generator. I just stick a load of stamps on and take a picture to remind myself later.
Spanish Armada, Fishermen, Sign Language, Tropical Fish, Horse Chestnut, The Mallard, Landscape, Flowers, Gramophone, Postal Union, Fire Engine, Radio Broadcasting, Inigo Jones building, Inigo Jones masque costumes.
That’s just a taster. Many of them lead on to other thoughts.
Here are a few others.
More Stampish Inspiration
Roald Dahl, Cats, Morgan Le Fey, Merlin, Christmas, Cricket, Edward Lear, Pathe News, National Trust Cliff, Bittern, a couple I’m not sure about (including a French Horn), Rugby League, Golf, Football, something to do with Springtime and Queen Elizabeth II.
I really must read them more thoroughly next time and remember what they are.
I’m not sure they will convert to haiku very easily, but they should work for haibun and other forms. The prompts will be incorporated into my writing challenges. (Because they aren’t already hard enough…)
I tried another writing prompt – “Write about your day so far”. I’ve only been up an hour and I haven’t actually set foot outside the house. It could be tricky.
So I tried again – “Write about something you got for free”. After much thought I remembered that I had a free blood test and, because everything went well, my car parking was also free. I think I covered that in several previous posts.
At least I’ve started writing. For a few minutes at the start I just sat and stared at the screen. I’ve been doing that for the last few days. It’s not that I’m lacking inspiration, it’s just that there’s so much of it that I don’t seem to be able to get any work done.
I’ve just been watching a TV programme where Tanni Grey Thompson has been looking into her grandfather’s service as an air raid warden in WW2. I learnt a lot I hadn’t known before, and was very impressed with some of the things I hadn’t realised.
This set me off on a tour of Wikipedia as it’s a subject close to my heart. I recently read a piece that referred to people who didn’t serve in the forces as “shirkers”, which didn’t strike me as fair or accurate.
Seven thousand Civil Defence workers were killed in the UK during the war – something I hadn’t realised before. One of my grandfathers was in a reserved occupation during the war. He volunteered for the RAF twice and his employers applied to have him back twice. He served as fireman in his spare time and found himself called out during the air raids on Liverpool and Manchester.
His brother, a railwayman, was also in a reserved occupation. He was in the Special Constabulary when he wasn’t working.
The featured image is included as an example of what can go wrong in photography for ebay. A highly polished medallion can, for instance, act as a mirror, as you can see from the image of my camera lens.
The case, as you can see, is also a great way of reflecting fluorescent tubes.
I clearly need to add some non-reflective techniques to my repertoire. Some photographs I took of cased coin sets actually reflected my face, leading people to believe that they had been taken by Santa’s less cheerful brother. I didn’t preserve any of them.
The photographs shown below are what the weather looked like on Sunday. It’s difficult to believe when you look back, as wwe had a bit of a heat wave yesterday, with temperature up to 12 degrees C (or 53 degrees F for those of you who use it).
Snow in Nottingham
Snow in Nottingham (2)
I’m struggling for inspiration tonight – I think it’s leaking from the holes in my arms, as noted, here, here and here. And here too. Or I may just be looking to increase traffic around the blog by linking to recent posts. I really should stop reading those articles on Search Engine Optimisation…
The subject it generated is: If you could pass a law right now, what would it be, and why?
Well, my first thought is why bother, because nobody takes notice of the law these days. On Friday I actually saw a cyclist ride across a pedestrian crossing without using his hands whilst reading something off his phone screen. He wasn’t wearing a helmet, though that was a minor safety consideration compared to the rest of it.
No amount of legislation will improve that situation – some people are way past that.
The appropriate action was that sort of thing is a marksman on a high building with permission to cull the weakere members of the herd. American dentists would probably pay a large sum for the chance of mounting such a rare head on the wall, complete with unused brain.
My second thought was about the advisibility of passing a law that allows me to win the next big lottery jackpot…