Tag Archives: planning

Going to the Grave with a Song Still in me . . .

It suddenly came to me in the car this morning, that I have my planning all wrong. It’s all very well planning the number of submissions or the number of publications. What I need to do is target the number of poems I write. I know from the old days of doing the Buson 100, that I can write a lot more than I do.

As from today I am going to set targets and become a writing machine. To use the Thoreau misquote, there is little point in going to the grave with the words still in me. let’s see if I can get them out.

Here is what he is reputed to say. He didn’t, it seems say this, but he should have done because it’s better than what he actually said.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them” 

I’m going to have a good go at not doing that.

On another note. I saw a woman with a specialist bicycle yesterday. I’ve seen her before but yesterday was obviously a day for minor epiphanies. She has a hybrid of wheelchair and hand cycle. Now, as you may have seen, I have been talking of buying an electric scooter for extra mobility when I retire. I’m not overly keen on the idea as it’s a bit like giving up, but on the other hand it will allow me to get out and about.

Why not, I thought, buy some form of hand cycle? It will give me mobility and exercise and not involve giving up. With luck it may help me lost weight, which will help me become more mobile. That was before I started looking at it seriously. The main sorts of hand cycle are either wheelchair types, which isn’t really what I want, or they involve recumbent cycles, and if I could get down low enough to the floor to use one of them, I probably wouldn’t need one. There is, if you look hard enough, a range of upright tricycle type bikes. The only trouble with them is cost. However, I’m sure that eBay can provide something second hand. I really must look harder as my lack of exercise is something that I need to address.


Pictures are more of our tomatoes and a generic fruit picture. The apples from the gardens are sweet but not photogenic.


The Power of Planning

A few years ago I did a SMART plan for the junior rugby club. That’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic and Timely/Time Bound. There are slight differences in the way people construct the mnemonic, but it all works out the be the same. Timely and Time Bound are both awkward and I may just change that to Timed. Timely implies something more than just delivered on time; there is a suggestion of convenience or aptness about it which is not accurate in this case. Time Bound isn’t a construction I’ve seen in other places and I suspect someone made it up. It worked well.

However, that’s not really important. The article that I’ve linked to has a number of other words you can use.

I also did one for my Haibun writing, and that worked out well too. There is something about planning that makes things happen. Unfortunately I let the planning lapse – a few notes and some good intentions are not an effective plan.

This all comes from my looming retirement. I am going to have to plan this properly or face a time of chaos and disappointment. It then occurred to me that one of the reasons my poetry is struggling is that I don’t have a proper plan for that either.

The moving plan is, at present, just a piece of A4 scrap paper torn from top to bottom. It’s not elegant but it has space for months and notes and it has already given me greater clarity. Eventually it will include things like the date of delivery for new white goods and stuff like that. I’m not actually splashing out on new white goods, I’m being forced into it by the decrepit state of our current lot. The freezer and cooker are both limping along and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they last. The washer and drier both died years ago, hence my many blogs and poems about laundrettes.

The poetry plan is just a few sparks inside my head at the moment but by tonight it will have more form. Meanwhile, bear this in mind – it’s roughly 500 blog posts before I write the one titled “Our New Home”.

(Disclaimer: All this talk of planning should be prefixed by “If the good Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise” as it seems like tempting fate to step in, to make so many plans.) 

The pictures? I put “plan” into Search and didn’t get a lot of help. Plants and plant pots seemed to be the best of a bad lot.

Small Copper on castor oil plant



Back to Work – Day 3 – The Owner Returns & I Make Plans

We had a quiet morning. I had all the parcels done before my workmate arrived, the customers filtered in, we bought, we sold and we relaxed. The owner returned home in the early afternoon and came to work immediately as he arranged to meet a client. Personally, I would have left it until Monday, but that’s life at the cutting edge of retail.

My new glasses are performing well, though a couple of bits of plastic in frame shouldn’t be too difficult to manufacture and there’s a limit to the number of things that can be wrong. The main problem I find is that the frames aren’t wide enough, which eventually makes them crack. these have sprung hinges, so that won’t happen. Actually, they aren’t glasses, are they? They have no glass in them.

I now have a timeline for retirement. It needs a few more details but we seem to have covered all the main points. The difficult part is knowing the best time for us to retire as Julia is younger than me. We want to be in the bungalow for Christmas next year but that’s nearly a year before she retires. I don’t think it’s worth worrying about, but she seems to be vacillating about whether retire to early or not. I get so annoyed by the way she’s treated at work I’ve suggested that she retires now, as we won’t be much worse off and can work round it. We do, after all, have a low cost lifestyle.

Books . . .

I am going to start adding more tasks to the timeline, plus mileposts, Key Performance Indicators, landmarks and a roadmap. I may have made some of them up, but you get the idea. I will be writing about targets soon, so had better brush up on my jargon so I can sound knowledgeable.

Books are going first. Some will be offered to specialist dealers or go into auction, many will go to charity shops and quite a few are destined for recycling. Some books, it pains me to admit, are just not worth anything. Some of them haven’t been opened for thirty years, so I’m not going to spend good money on transport just so I can clutter up another house. Those days have gone.

I will be putting parts of my collection on eBay, starting in the autumn, and other bits and pieces are destined for auction or a skip. I still have a lot of stuff inherited from my grandfather – including a magnifier for a 1950s TV (they only had 7″ screens in those days), a valve tester and a variety of hand tools that I will never use.

There are also 12 plastic boxes of military surplus clothing from my market days in the garage. They have been unreachable for ten years and if they aren’t mouse bedding by now they will be going to the charity.

The more I think of it, the more stuff I remember that I need to get rid of. I was happier when I wasn’t planning . . .

Books by Paul Hollywood



The Same Old Trap

Sorry, I have let things drift over the last few days. I need a plan. This is, of course, the same thing you have heard me say over and over, hence the title, so won’t be a surprise, or a revelation of much importance. I have a few days off next week so I will make myself a plan for the rest of the year. Things seem to go better with plans. I should have that made into wall paper for the ceiling of my bedroom so I can indoctrinate myself each morning as I wake up.

I have probably covered my great planning success for junior rugby several years ago, when I sat down, planned and actually carried out more work than I have ever managed before or since. Same goes for my great poetry plan a few years ago. It seemed to work. It may work again this year. I am going to set a half day aside to do some planning. Of course, I will then have a decision to make – whether to keep it secret so that nobody knows if I fail, or to announce it to make it harder for me to fall short. Both plans have their merits.

I follow the SMART Model, which is . . . er . . . Something, Measurable, Something, Something and Timely.  The “T” is hard to fit in to the general plan. If I can’t remember what it all stands for this could be more of a problem than I was thinking. Looking it up I find it is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely/Time-Bound. As I said, it’s hard fitting in the “T”.

The process starts with me saying I must start planning tomorrow and proceeds as I write out some sheets with space for times and targets. Then the fun begins when I start making up numbers to fit. They have to be higher than the ones I am already achieving, but not so high that they prove impossible. I’ve had 22 poems accepted  in the last six months, but am faltering at the moment. I need to plan for another 33 in the next nine months just to keep the average going.  It’s already looking like hard work . . .

When all else fails, turn to cake!


A Change of Pace

I tried to catch up with my blog reading today, but didn’t quite manage. A couple more hours tomorrow will just about get me there.

Then I have up to five submissions to make in the next 8 days (it’s a short month) and I will be up to date. I say “up to” as I could do five but may not have time to write five good sets of submissions. Better to write three good sets than five poor ones.

Seems so simple when you write it like that, doesn’t it? Such a small manageable number, but one that seems huge when you sit here with nothing on paper and nothing in the tank.  This is where habit and discipline take over. This is where the traits like talent and inspiration start to show the strain and the excuse of writer’s block comes in. I don’t need talent or inspiration, just habit and discipline, and I’m not blocked, just disorganised. I should have been writing since Tuesday, after finishing the medallion talk but I seem to have watched TV and read instead. We all need a change of pace, but sometimes you need to force things on a bit, and I’m not very good with that.

That is, in the end, something that separates the top performers from the second division of writers. It’s also a good excuse. I can tell myself that I wasn’t quite dedicated enough to make that final push for the top and don’t need to admit I don’t write well enough to rise to the top of the pile.

With that thought, I will close down for the night, recharge my batteries and start the writing tomorrow. I’ve just remembered we are busy next weekend, so it’s going to be five submissions in four days. As I said, planning is important.


Day 39

I’m writing again now, and some of it has promise. I’ve even started reading a bit more. Unfortunately, like my weight loss, I still need to do a lot more.

Of course, the time can’t just be devoted to writing. Even the “writing time” has to take in research and administration. I need to get my submissions log up to date, as I didn’t record everything that went out in the rush at the end of January. I also need to get my printouts of published poems up to date – they are probably lagging by six months but I like to keep a hard copy so that I can browse it when I’m feeling down. The printer has broken, yet again, and I really need to get another one. However, it doesn’t seem as simple as it used to be, and I keep putting it off for fear of buying the wrong sort.

A lot of them seem to be wireless or bluetooth these days and I’ve never had much luck with either system.

Although I’m currently writing various things I will have to find out which magazines are open for submissions before I go much further. It’s a lot easier to meet a deadline when you know the exact date.

The header photo is a temperance medal from the Independent Order of Good Templars, who broke away from the Order of Good Templars in 1852 (which reminds me of so many committees I have seen). They eventually merged again, expanded internationally and are now known as the International Organisation of Good Templars. The medal dates from the latter part of the 19th century and is in excellent condition for its age. I listed it just before lunch yesterday and someone bought it twenty minutes later. With that and the cigarette case I seem to be on a roll. The medal is big, about 45mm in diameter, despite the size it appears to be on my screen. I haven’t quite got the hang of sizing photos yet.

Independent Order of Good Templars medal (obverse)

Independent Order of Good Templars medal (Reverse)

Ten Minute Burst

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.

Poppies and Poems

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 . . .

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

Camera Faults

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.


Reading, writing, wittering on…

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.”

An attempt at artistry