I’m going to try a Ten Minute Burst (TMB). I just read a few blogs on freshening up my writing, and this is what I came up with. I’ve noticed that I can do a post in a short time if I get my head down, so this is really nothing new, but the idea of actually using it as a writing tool is new. I could do two of them in an hour and I reckon that would produce more than many of the hours I spent looking at a blank screen and filling it word by hard-won word.
I think I may already have failed, as I forgot to note my start time. Plus I don’t actually have much of a plan. “Write” is not, it seems, good enough.
A big problem with this plan is, of course, that I have to prevent myself wandering off on the net. True to form, I have spent most of the last hour doing bits of research and rambling off. It’s been fun, but it’s not been much use from the point of view of working on my Ten Minute Burst technique. Clearly tomorrow will be a sterner test as I have a number of things to rewrite before I submit them. If all goes well I have three or four submissions to make in the next week.
It’s a funny thing – I meant to read up on more writing techniques, but then I started writing so much that I forgot to do it. Just one of life’s many ironies.
We had eighteen poppies this morning. Not as good as some recent days when we had over 20, but still quite good. If you say we average 15 a day (we have second, small, patch too) in Junes, July, August and September, that’s about 1,700 blooms. That’s a lot of effort in flowering and, to be honest, a lot of deadheading too. And all from two patches of poppies which grow from cracks in the concrete. When we move I must try to save seed.
I am using a more structured approach to the day. I did 10 haiku this morning after arriving at work and emailed them to myself. I made a few notes on a submission I am making this evening and then started work. I wrote and the shop benefited from me starting early so I like to think it is good for both of us.
Did I say I was doing a Buson 100 (100 days writing 10 haiku each day.)? I honestly forget what I write in my notes, what I write in the blog and what I mean to write in the blog. Yes, I see I have mentioned it. I’m just over half way in days, and have a few poems in hand, so things aren’t looking too bad, though it’s till touch and go, as I can easily get two or three days behind, and it takes a bit of catching up. This isn’t helped by losing a notebook with ten poems in it. However, as copy typing is very dull, half of me is happy to lose them and just write directly onto the screen. I’m finding it a lot easier to type haiku these days, instead of having to write them first. Typing is less stress on my hands too, so it’s all good.
Structure, planning, discipline. Bit by bit it seems to be working, though it’s mainly structure helping to develop good habits. Planning is OK, but could be better. Discipline seems to dissolve when I see an interesting link to follow and lose myself for an hour . . .
The featured image is the Belgian enamelled coin I spoke about yesterday, the one I couldn’t show as I’d left my camera at work.
They heyday of the enamelled coin in the UK was 1887, and many of the coins you see were ones with the 1887 Jubilee head of Queen Victoria. That’s why so many enamelled Georgian coins are worn – they were old when they were done. Most of the Jubilee head coins are in good condition as they were taken directly from the bank to the enameller’s workshop. It’s an interesting subject that I would like to know more about. That, to be fair, is something that could be said of many subjects. This is a paragraph I just rescued from yesterday’s draft, which I am about to delete – I try not to add things after publishing but in this case it’s something I should have covered, and forgot.
Today I had even more camera problems. It started with me thinking it was an eBay problem, which it sometimes is. However, it looks like there’s a problem with my camera card. I have a situation where I take photos but they don’t show up on my card. Other photos show up, ones I thought I’d previously moved or deleted. After a certain amount of switching on and off and trying cables and card readers, it occurred to me that I’d just taken five pictures of a tiger medallion and five pictures of a 1938 cricket giveaway had appeared on the card. What, I asked myself, if those five pictures of 1930s cricketers turned out to be my tiger photos.
It’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but by that time, having done everything I could think of, including clearing my cache, I was at the end of my tether. As I dragged the first photo, Don Bradman changed into a tiger. Very strange.
Haven’t a clue what is happening but it must be a card or camera fault. I will try to narrow it down tomorrow. Meanwhile, here is another shot of the coin with a different background. Generally I find the blue is better when taking pictures for eBay but the black is sometimes better when photographing things as a record.
Enamelled coin – nice rare example.
Learning from last night, I have answered comments and am about to post. Then I am going to watch Pointless and plan some poetry. Tim to get a grip.
This is a post I wrote this morning. I arrived at work slightly earlier than usual and found there were only two parcels to pack, so that was soon done. I don’t access WP from the work computer, as I don’t want to blur too many lines, but I do sometimes check my emails, so I emailed this to myself.
After posting last night, I spent some time looking at poetry to see what I could do to improve. First stop was a magazine that usually rejects my work. The editor does give me advice from time to time, which only increases my confusion. I don’t always understand what they say to me, and I definitely don’t understand why things identified as faults in my work are acceptable in the work of others. I found several examples and spent half an hour studying them for clues as to what makes them publishable when I am not. I looked at all sorts of things apart from the writing and the content, including subject, voice and style, and I couldn’t se what the successful pieces had that I didn’t. I’ll have a go in a few months and see what I can see.
Better informed, but mystified, I moved on. If I keep seeking, I am sure I will find something to explain it, and even if I don’t , I am bound to learn something and improve, simply by looking at things in greater detail.
It’s that pond again. The haibun that it inspired was eventually split in two. One half was published. The second half formed the basis of another haibun I am still working on.
I found two by someone from the UK and decided to look him up. I do that sometimes. He writes in several forms and has published nearly a thousand pieces in 20 years. He belongs to two writers’ groups, reads in public and plans all his poems out. I’m already sensing several differences in our approach. I don’t like the idea of writers’ groups, don’t like speaking in public, and although I do think of planning I rarely do any. I say “rarely” but if you were to pin me down on detail, I may alter that to never. But I do sometimes thing of planning, which is nearly the same. However, despite the differences there is one similarity – we keep writing, learning and submitting.
My normal planning process is to think “I’m going to write something.” I may have to look at that again.
At that point, or some defined point in the future (generally after eating or watching TV) I write. Then I write some more and try to add something at the beginning that is also mentioned at the end. If you do that it looks like you had a plan. Then I take all the bad words out – long words because they are just showing off, adjectives because they are frowned on in poetry, and clichés – shards is one of the main ones that people go on about but myriads, hosts and cerulean are also unwelcome.
Then I leave it to rest. Some of my published work has been resting for a couple of years, with a gentle nudge and a prune now and again. Sometimes I add a bit, but mostly it’s a process of reduction. Then one day I send it out into the world. It often returns. So I cut, shape and send it out again. If it comes back too many times, I think about reusing bits of it.
It’s sometimes difficult to judge. Some poems go out four or five times and are eventually accepted. Others go once or twice and get parked. It all depends on how much confidence I have in them. One went out five times before being accepted, another was accepted on its fourth attempt (four days after being rejected by another magazine). As Chuck Berry said ” It goes to show you can never can tell.”
First day back at work after Christmas today. Whatever kills me, it’s unlikely to be overwork or stress. I now have a week off, thanks to Covid. A whole week, and nothing immediately comes to mind – I have three haibun to refine for a competition by the end of the month and that’s it. The rest of the year looks comparatively easy.
I’m setting myself some targets to make sure I don’t drift off into idleness but that won’t take me all week.
One project is printing copies of my published submissions as I like to put them in a folder so I can leaf through them on the days when my confidence needs a boost. I have got a bit behind with this and need to catch up. The main problem is that the existing folder is lost. It will be somewhere lurking in plain sight, but I just can’t find it at the moment. For the moment I’m going to start a new folder and transfer them when I find the original.
Another is trying to memorise the capitals of American states, because they often come up on quiz shows. So far it’s not going well. Apart from the difficulties of an aging brain, how did Americans come to select so many unknown towns as capitals? Some of them are world famous and others are completely unknown. You’ think that being selected as the state capital would guarantee a place would become well known.
I then looked up the county towns of England, and found I don’t know as much about my own country as I thought I did, including the development of county names. THe county towns of Somerset and Wiltshire, for instance, were Somerton and Wilton. I’ve never heard of Somerton, and only know of Wilton because of the carpets.
As a result of all this new knowledge I now find myself thinking “Nebraska” every time I see the word “Lincoln”. I’ve lived in Lincolnshire, I can almost see it from here, but it just doesn’t seem to register. Lincoln, Nebraska is named after President Lincoln, not the English city. It used to be called “Lancaster” which is the county town of Lancashire.
I can’t help thinking that I might have been better not starting down this road as the more I learn, the more I realise that I don’t know.
If I carry on like this I might have to read more articles like this.
Sorry, I have been struggling since Sunday. Inspiration seems to have deserted me, and IBS seems to have returned. I’ve been watching my diet, so I’m wondering if the IBS could be linked to stress. Yes, even I get stressed from time to time, though I’m only going to mention it in passing as I feel, as I said yesterday, there is far too much sharing in modern life.
It’s taken me well over an hour to get to these seventy seven words. I’ve written about a thousand, but none are hitting the right note.
I started the day by dropping Julia at work and composing a haibun in the car. I emailed it to myself from work. I find that although I need a pen and paper to compose when I’m sitting down to write, I can go directly to the screen if I’ve already composed it in my head.
It will probably never be shown to anybody, as it concerns everything that has bothered me since the depression descended on Sunday. The writing of therapeutic haibun is well known, as is the fact that they make tedious reading. I’m hoping that with the emptying of my head, inspiration will return.
Inspiration has to return because I’m just starting an important six weeks for submissions and these six weeks could set the tone of then next year. Well, if they are good, they could. If they are bad, I will simply start my year from February.
This reminds me – it is probably time for a bit of planning. Things go better with a bit of planning. This year has been OK, but I’ve tended to drift through it, and I need to get a grip. My literary legacy isn’t going to write itself.
My Christmas shopping isn’t going to do itself either, and as Mrs Botham has suspended her Christmas website due to the number of orders, Plan A has collapsed. As has Plan B, because Bettys has nearly sold out. It looks like the hamper plan is going to boil down to some supermarket scones wrapped up in an old shoe box. This lacks the grandeur of the original plan, and I may have to do some more thinking. I did think about getting some fancy Christmas boxes, but the useful sizes all seem to have sold out. It seems that we haven’t been sending empty containers back to China so they can’t send us all the cheap stuff we have come to rely on.
The picture is some Christmas stamps I used on a letter to the USA today.
I’ve been home for four hours. In that time I’ve read and commented on 10 posts from four bloggers, spoken to my sister, washed up (yes, I know I’m a slob) and cooked. Tea is nearly ready, though I have exploded a baked potato in the oven.
It doesn’t seem a lot for four hours. I’m never going to become a world class poet at this rate. I’m not even going to become a mediocre poet at this rate as I haven’t written anything apart from a few notes today. Well, I did answer some work emails and load four items onto eBay, but there was a distinct lack of poetry associated with all that.
The most complicated word I used was iconic, which is almost obligatory these days if you are selling a Winston Churchill Medallion.
We had a chicken curry made with a spice kit last night – grilled marinaded chicken breasts with rice and yoghurt dressing. The chicken was good, though messy to prepare, but the rice was not impressive. I couldn’t actually detect any flavour in it, though that may have been my fault for using brown rise instead of white.
The yoghurt dressing was good to. Two out of three ain’t bad, as they say. Maybe I will make meatloaf later this week.
Tonight it was Cornish Pasty with beans and baked potato. It wasn’t sophisticated but I did enjoy it.
We had crumble for the last two nights, made with plums from the garden tree. I see Julia has brought some apples home today so I’m hoping for apple crumble later this week. Tomorrow we will probably have fried rice with courgettes. We have plenty of courgettes – green ones, yellow one and ones that think they are marrows.
The car is in for servicing and MOT tomorrow, which seems to get more expensive every year. If I’d had my MOT in July I would have been given a 6 month extension, but as it’s in August I have to have it as normal. Ah well, it’s the same the whole world over, ain’t that a blooming shame – it’s the rich wot gets the pleasure and the poor wot gets the blame. Or words to that effect.
A final thought – according to Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50 she has her blog posts planned out until 20th September. The woman must be a machine – I have a couple of ideas noted for future use, but when I started writing this I didn’t know what I was going to write about when I started and wasn’t sure how I was going to finish it.
How do you plan your blog?
Photo by Kirsten Bu00fchne on Pexels.com
I thought I’d use the cats again today as they are generally acceptable, and because I’m too lazy to find new shots.
We just had tea and biscuits for a mid-day break. then I washed up from breakfast, including the poaching pan, which looked like an explosion of ectoplasm. Then I let the compost caddy slip from my wet fingers. The lid could be more robustly secured…
So after clearing compost from the kitchen floor (in the shape of tea bags, egg shells, avocado skins and slippery veg peel) I am once more sitting down to work.
SMART Plans were, as I recall, my next subject.
They are plans which have a snappy acronym, and are thus better than ordinary plans. SMART, for those of you who haven’t been exposed to fashionable jargon in the last twenty years are plans that are:
They can be other things too, but this has always done for me. All it means is that you have to say what you are going to do, how you will measure it, who will do it, how you will do it and when you will do it by.
I spent a whole week once filling in the plan for a Junior Rugby section – including recruiting, training or obtaining coaches, first aiders, team managers, match officials, safeguarding officers, equipment, and several things I’ve forgotten, though I remember there were twelve things.
Somebody looked it over and said: “You’re mad, you’ll never do it.”
By the end of the year ten of the twelve things had been done and one had nearly been done. If I’d have just gone ahead with a vague plan in mind I would have managed three or four of the easier things.
I’ve just cut out 150 words on the philosophy and meaning of failure. I can sometimes be very pompous and boring and have to guard against it.
I will just say that real failure consists of not trying.
One of my plans for today is to write a number of blog posts covering the entire day. That seems to be working. Cooking breakfast was also on the list, as was catching up with the washing up. I now need to write a SMART Plan for my writing over the next year, sort out some books for the charity shop, do the grocery order for TESCO online and start the outlines for some magazine articles.
Julia is currently on the phone in the front room and the TV is off, so there is no temptation to wander through. She has been busy sorting out one of her clients (which I cannot discuss even though it is interesting), sorting out some office inefficiency (which I probably discuss, but it would be tactless) and generally chatting to people who are bored and still aren’t sure why they aren’t allowed out yet.
I think all the positivity of my last few posts has exhausted me. It’s not easy being cheerful when the whole world seems set on misery. Earlier tonight I was listening to a negative, whining politician tonight as he made a selection of party-political points and offered nothing useful. This, of course, is merely reverting to type. They behaved like a basket of weasels through the whole Brexit debate, briefly grew up at the start of the Covid outbreak and are now reverting to type.
The country is led by a man who has made all his political decisions based on how it would help his career, so you can’t blame any of his verminous fellows who are trying to further their careers in the current climate. It may be a tragedy for the us, but it’s a career opportunity for them.
Today, after reading more of the 1700 book, I have mainly been watching TV, reading blog sites and searching newspaper archives. There are worse ways of spending a day.
Julia’s day started at 6.55 when someone rang her. It was a wrong number. It finished at 20.15 when some of the clients decided to conference call her. They get bored and ring at all times, having no concept of working hours. It’s very wearing.
Tomorrow will be similar, but may feature a trip to the pharmacy. I really must start measuring medallions too. It’s time to start making lists so that I do actually accomplish something. I can then bore people with stories of what I did in the Great Lockdown of 2020.
Good news from earlier in the week is that pollution levels are falling because we aren’t using cars as much.
Yes, it’s Sunday night again and I’m looking at another week incarcerated in a windowless office with a thousand items of eBay stock and the scent of ancient sweat drifting off a pile of used foreign banknotes. Years ago I was present when a dealer opened a shoebox crammed with used notes from a distant land . The experience of lifting the lid and taking a breath was very much like being coshed with a sweaty football sock crammed with mature cheese. I have been dubious about used foreign notes ever since.
Sometimes they bring back pleasant memories of exotic foreign trips, but mostly they just remind me of that shoebox. That makes me sound like a man who made exotic foreign trips. Actually I only made a couple, and they were for business so they tended to be big on work and light on tourism.
And with thoughts of missed opportunities, I will now turn back to plans for the week.
Tomorrow I am rising at 6.30 to get to the hospital in time to get a parking space and, with luck, a short wait for a blood test. I haven’t been since before Christmas so I’m hoping I hit target as I like it when you get two or three months between tests.
For the rest of the week I have a visit from a tree surgeon, who is going to trim a tree, a visit to charity shops to drop off some books and other clutter, and a trip to the doctor to review medication. Not the most inspiring of weeks. I really ought to add the Power Point to that, because days have a terrible habit of melting away if you don’t plan properly.
I know that the most productive periods of my life have been the ones where I’ve planned them properly, but I’m lazy and tend to let things slide.
I will add “planning” to the list. It’s time to shake off the winter and get to work.
Sculpture at Scarborough
The pictures are ones I recently found on a camera card I’d mislaid. It’s a sculpture from the seafront at Scarborough, and it’s surprisingly difficult to photograph, as there are always people in the way, looking at it or the information board.