Tag Archives: poetry

Day 14

It was icy over night, then the mist added a film of dampness to the already slippery surface. It was unpleasant even walking the few yards to the car,  which was comprehensively iced.

It stayed misty all day, which would have been atmospheric if I had been in a place with hills and trees but which was merely depressing in the middle of town.

Yesterday had been bright and light when I left the shop. Tonight was dull and grey. However, it wasn’t slippery, so it wasn’t all bad. That is how we are at the moment, with slow progress to Spring. We will have  a couple of days of higher temperatures and lighter nights, then it will drop back for a few days. I suppose that’s what makes me appreciate the good days.

So far it has been a mild winter, and, as usual, I keep having to remind myself that there is plenty of scope for bad weather in February (which is often a bad month) and even March. Being realistic, it doesn’t take much to close us down. A day  of snow will cause havoc in the UK, whereas Norway or Canada would look at it and shrug it off.

I think poets must thrive on misery, because I found myself thinking creative thoughts on the way home in the car. This could be the end of the poetry drought, and about time too – there are a lot of deadlines coming up. I had 42 poems published last year and have had two accepted so far this year. I’m not going to judge myself solely by numbers but I would like to be in that area again so I can’t afford to waste too many chances.

I’m, sticking with my theme for photographs – another postcard and another parcel. variety is over-rated.

Another one of an endless team of envelopes

A Review of My Targets and Another Pan of Soup

My first job of the day was to take nourishment in the form of two slices of toast (brown seeded bread) with chunky cut marmalade. I know how to live.

I then reported for a blood test and, duly punctured, picked up a prescription from the pharmacy, had a cup of tea with friends (whilst delivering Christmas cards) and returned home for a light lunch made up of leftovers. Tea was home made soup (broccoli and cauliflower, including stalks and leaves) with a sandwich and I am now hungry as I sut and write this.

It is the price I must pay for my health. In the last three weeks I have not gained any weight, but I have not lost any either, and I need to get back into good habits. Lunch tomorrow will be more of the broccoli and cauliflower soup. Fortunately it is quite tasty, though Julia describes it, unattractively, as beige. It isn’t it’s a delicate green shade which, in certain lights, looks a little beige. But it’s definitely pale green. I would call it Eau de Nil, but I’m not sure that I want to associate my soup with the water of the River Nile.

A lot of my afternoon was spent in reviewing how my writing plans went over the last year. The plan took a bit of a knock due to me being ill and missing the best part of three months as I slowly recovered. I had  a target of 63 submissions, and managed 49. Not great, but not too bad.

Of those, I had 13 Haibun and one Tanka Prose (which I’m going to count as the same thing for the sake of these figures) accepted, which is 14 against a target of 18.

Haiku target was 12, and I have had 12 acceptances (a total of 15 poems) so that is OK.

I’m also writing Tanka, which I hadn’t planned for and have had four accepted.

One thing went badly – I had planned on doing three articles but after the first one turned into a bit of a disaster (originally accepted with edits, then turned down when the editor changed his mind< I didn’t pursue that. However, it will still be in the plan for next year.

I have also submitted ordinary poetry five times during the year and had three lots accepted.

I had been feeling a little deflated about my writing, and the way the year ended, but I’m actually quite pleased by the way it’s gone when I review the figures.

However, talking of figures, I’ve just been reading a website where a poet talks of their work. They have been writing poetry for 15 months and has had over 300 published. I really need to up my game. Or I could just stop reading author websites.

Starts with Soup and ends with Poetry

I’m writing this in the last hour of 1st December, and will post it minutes after midnight to make sure i get something written for what is currently “tomorrow”.

Soup first. I was wrong about the quantity. We had it for lunch then used the remains in the vegetable stew and dumplings we had for tea. I had mine with lashings of brown sauce, so it wasn’t as healthy as it could have been.

The green soup turned out brown, which turned to an off-putting greenish khaki once I applied the blender. I’m not sure which I prefer. It has a distinct salty taste, turning to broccoli. I’m not sure why as I only used one stock cube and no other seasoning. Apart from that, it’s OK. The colour, I think, can be traced back to me softening the onions until they turned brown – heat too high and concentration not switched on. It should be good for three days, and it might take me two of those days to work up the enthusiasm to eat it. I have seen that6 colour before and it is not usually associated with pleasant things.

Writing next. I had two poems accepted by Obsessed with Pipework. It’s a mixed blessing. I’m glad to have the poems accepted but it means that I now have nothing out with editors. This is a situation I feel I should remedy but it’s also a weight off my shoulders.

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

Over the last couple of years I have allowed my writing to reflect the editors I send it to, rather than what I want to write. That’s a good thing to do if you want to make a living as a freelance writer but I’ve left it a bit late for that and I really write for pleasure and relaxation.  I have proved to myself that I can write to an acceptable standard and I have proved that I can bounce back from rejection.

If I now change down a gear, it’s because I want to, not because I’m making excuses. Yes, at the back of my mind I do have an ambition to see my name on the spine of a poetry collection (or maybe more than one) but that is not as important as the pleasure I get from writing.

It’s an ego thing. Is my poetry really that good that it justifies cutting down a tree? Probably not. (I added the “probably” to give me an escape route if I ever succumb and do publish one). I don’t, to be honest, work hard enough to be able to produce a book and admire people who do.

This is very much in the area of “Writer Biographies” and blogs. A lot of them list the author’s educational achievements from forty years ago, their glittering careers and a long list of publications. It’s very dull and it isn’t really a picture of who they are (unless they really are  a pompous dullard).  I, as you know, am not overly burdened by education, achievement or success so  I couldn’t compete with them if I wanted to, but I promise you that if I could compete with them, I wouldn’t. What I have been gives some insight into what I am today, but what I am really concerned with is what I will be tomorrow. Same with my writing. Everything I have published is faulty and my ambition is to publish something tomorrow that is less faulty.

Lake District – a better photographer would have noted which bit . . .

The photos are a pork pie, a hoverfly on a poppy and a load of hills next to a lake. That’s just to remind myself that lots of things are (a) more important than poetry and (b) will still be around long after I have gone.

A Pleasant Surprise, a Haibun and another Senior Moment

Today, the 19th of September 2021, I had  pleasant surprise. I opened up Drifting Sands Haibun and found my haibun on the front page. I added the date because it will change over time. We are due for a new issue soon and it will change. But for a short while, I was there. Forgive my unseemly glee, but after being accepted a number of times it is difficult to set a new target, and getting to the front page of Drifting Sands was one that I had set myself.

For those of you reading this too late to see it on the front page, you can try here. Don’t get too excited, I think I posted the link before. It’s just the one about the crow and the ants.

Now, I know you are all wondering what I have done in the matter of Senior Moments. Well, some months ago, I had trouble with my emails, and nearly missed some emails from an editor. We managed to sort that out, but didn’t actually find the cause. Last week I finally started looking at my submission diary (remember I have been ill/lazy for a month) and realised that I should have had some contact from editors. I checked up and found that I had a haiku in a magazine. This was a surprise, but more evidence of the fact that I wasn’t getting emails, or I would have known it was being published.

This set up a panic reaction, because I don’t want to miss the chance of publication, or have editors think that I am rude or inefficient. I am both, but I don’t want people to think it . . .

I have just spent my afternoon writing to the editors who may have emailed me, explaining what happened. It’s a tricky email to write (three times) because there is always the chance that they may not have thought me worth responding to.

Earlier in the week I started to realise what I had done but, prodding around with my email controls in an unstructured and ill-informed way, managed to make it worse. Anyway, I have finally found the answer and corrected it.

I had reset my spam controls a couple of months ago to block a particularly irritating advertiser. In doing so, I had also added gmail to my list of blocked domains. This was clearly a bad move. However, it is unblocked now, explanations have been sent and I am a wiser man.

 

 

Friday – a middling sort of day

I missed posting yesterday because things were a bit hectic, and I’m close to missing today’a post because they have been busy today too. Number One Son is home for a quick visit, the first time we have seen him since Christmas. We have been eating pizza (and salad), discussing the Olympics and trying to get the DVD player to work. I had though he would be useful with the technology but it seems that DVD players are out of date. I can’t tell you what is in date as I didn’t understand what he was talking about. Superficially it was like English, but when it was all strung together t was like staring into purgatory. The future is not a welcoming place and seems to contain a lot of clouds . . .

Meanwhile, I have had two emails today, which just goes to show that rejections, like buses, always come along in groups. One magazine didn’t actually reject me (they declined me) but did so in such a way that I have decided I may not offer them the fruits of my labours next time round. The other did reject me, but did so with  alight touch and a helpful comment. I liked that better.

Generally, though, they just bounced off me. A year into my great poetic effort (great effort that is, not great poetry) I have grown a carapace that deflects the sting of rejection and allows me to carry on crawling towards my goal, indifferent to rejection, no matter what they may call it.

We are having cheesecake now, to round off the pizza. I like having visitors.

The Results Are In

This is not really a post, just an exercise in procrastination. I started writing it last night and left it for completion but had an idea for another post before returning to it.  I should be writing some haibun at the moment, but that isn’t going well. I started writing but wandered off to search Gray’s Elegy for a title, and ended up reading Lowell’s For the Union Dead, which is a fine poem but isn’t going to move my haibun forward. On the other hand, twenty minutes of staring into space and chewing a pen didn’t move it forward either.

I am now going to complete the post so that I don’t need to think about actually writing poetry.

It is now twelve months since I decided to take poetry seriously and I am in a position to discuss my 12 month rolling average.

Fifty six submissions made. Twenty eight have been successful, twenty one have been rejected and seven are awaiting a decision. Three of those have very little chance but I have a reasonable chance with the others. Even if none of them are accepted I am still on 50%, which everyone tells me is a good proportion.

This year it’s safe to say that I have written more, managed a publishable standard and have moved slightly out of my comfort zone by venturing into ordinary poetry and tanka, whilst trying a few new magazines.

In truth, I’ve done a little ordinary poetry before, though I did aim reasonably high with my choice of magazine, so I’m happy there. The tanka seem quite successful too, so I need  anew challenge. This year I will consolidate what I am doing (no need to get over-confident) then look for new challenges.

I also have to work on becoming more productive, but for the moment I am off to read about writing better tanka. It beats bashing away at haibun that won’t come, but is all about self-improvement so doesn’t count at procrastination.

 

 

 

A Worse Thing than Being Accepted

I didn’t realise there was anything worse than being accepted, until yesterday.

I’ve just had an acceptance and I am very annoyed. In fact at one point I was filled with rage. I sent in three haibun, each one elegantly and interestingly crafted and probably some of the best work I have ever done. I also sent in seven tanka to make the numbers up and see how the tanka are going. I’ve only just started writing them and have had one accepted, so they seem to be hitting the mark. However, they are just lightweight 5 line poems compared to the more serious business of writing haibun. They are also, let’s face it, a lot easier than haiku – two extra lines and fewer rules make for a more relaxed writing experience.

You can see where this is heading already, can’t you?

None of the haibun were required and one of the tanka was accepted. My first reaction was disbelief, then, as read the email again (because I’d clearly missed something first time) extreme annoyance.  I’d just spent the best part of a year on the haibun, editing, cutting, polishing and letting them mature (all the stuff you are supposed to do), and they were tossed to one side in favour of something that took me five minutes.

However, after sleep and breakfast I’m looking on it as just one more manifestation of the mystery of interaction with editors. I will put it down to experience, use it for the basis of a blog post and, eventually use it in  a magazine article about rejection. But most of all I will look at my work critically and try to work out why it took a year to produce a bad haibun. I used to be able to that in twenty minutes. I’m getting slower  . . .

 

A Badly Filled Evening

I came home, I did some reading, and took a call from the GP Practice Nurse who rang to nag me about various tests. It ended slightly uncomfortably when I pointed out, after a discussion about cholesterol, that she was trying to make me appear ill to satisfy some NHS agenda. We had the same  sort of discussion a few years ago. I just have naturally low cholesterol. It’s due to my genetics, not to a a virtuous diet, but I do object to them trying to turn me into a cripple. I’m overweight and have  a few problems associated with that. This is my fault and the remedy lies in my hands, or in the case of cake, in not having it in my hands. It is time to start work on my weight. I have never had a problem with cholesterol and I object to them trying to get me on even  more medication. I already have more than enough, and they can’t get that right much of the time. Why give them a chance to foul up even more.

We then had tea (pasties, cauliflower steak, cheese sauce, carrots and roasted leeks in case you were wondering). hen we had a bit of cake because w had some left from the tip to Scarborough. I proceeded to watch too much TV and read a book about writing poetry that was written by a poet who should have paid an editor to edit her prose. It was also probably not a good idea for her to suggest reading good writers to improve my writing. It’s not bad advice, it’s just that her suggestions we (in order) her, Hemingway and Dickens.

A touch of modesty would not go amiss.

The Application of Brainpower

I have always had a feeling that if I could direct all, my thinking to one thing at a time I could do great things. These days I feel that if I could direct all my thinking to just one thing I would still have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast three days ago, or that I had to write a blog post before midnight.

Somewhere in my head that simple instruction still exists, just as it did for every one of the 24 consecutive days that WP flagged up. In the past it has served me well in reminding me to blog for many months of consecutive days. But somehow I have allowed it to become less preeminent. Over the last week or two I have been struggling to finalise some submissions for the end of the month. I’m never sure whether it’s best to get in at the start of a submission period or at the end, but I do know it’s important to make sure you submit at some point. So that’s one set of deadlines. I also have the 10 haiku a day target, which is wandering about all over the place. Some days are good, some days are hard. I’m also behind with that too, but well ahead on average. I’m concerned that binge writing isn’t really the best way to improve my haiku writing. On the other hand, it’s better than not writing at all. I know this from past experience. The “not writing” phase can easily creep up on you and you soon find you’ve been a month without writing. This hasn’t happened since I started blogging, but I know it’s still lurking . . .

To return to my original thought, all those other deadlines seem to have replaced the blogging deadline in my head.

Then, I admit. there was sentiment. It was Father’s Day at the weekend and though I have no great attachment to what is basically a made-up and superficial day devoted to merchandising The kids rang, which was nice, but reminds me that it’s a long time since I saw either of them, and for the first time in my life, I had no father to visit. All in all, a bit of a mixed day and a lot to think about.

Finally, just before going to bed. I had an email from the USA – two senryu and a haibun accepted for Failed Haiku. I like it as a magazine (a) because it accepts my work (which is always a plus) and (b) because both the editors are accomplished and interesting writers. In my mind there is a hierarchy of acceptance. The best acceptance is one from a writer you admire in a magazine that publishes good writers. That’s what I aim for these days, because I want to feel good about seeing my work in print.

That was how I decided to proceed when I started writing haibun. In my previous life as a poet I had originally targeted magazines with low standards and after two years and a dozen acceptances, was just starting to get poems in better magazines. This time round I decided to start at the top and see what happened. What’s the worse that could happen? A sneering letter of rejection (yes I had one or two), but so what? It’s not like anyone would know. People wouldn’t point at me in the street and laugh. So I went for it, and it seemed to work.

I really must try training my mind to think of one thing at a time, then do it before moving on to the next thing. That way I will avoid leaving a trail of art-completed projects behind me.

There was something else I was going to add, but I seem to have forgotten it. Considering what I said earlier, this is probably an appropriate place to end the post.

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