Tag Archives: procrastination

Going for 100

It’s been one of those days where I have, so far, spent over two hours doing nothing of any substance. It’s been all bits and bats and mostly consisted of emails, lists and blurred photos. It’s not productive, but it’s easy, and I have a habit of doing easy things rather than the ones I should be doing.

August is a light month for submissions, with just one that actually needs doing.  I also have four which can be left until the early weeks of September, but I have put them on the August list. This still leaves me with five compared to the seven I did last month. September is even worse – assuming that I do five in August I still have nine planned for September.

So far I have never broken into a sweat writing a poem, or found one I’ve struggled to lift. I haven’t even bled over one, despite the amount of paper I have handled. (However, I think I just found an idea for one . . .) so why does it seem so much of an effort? Not only that, but why is it so difficult to write until, you get close to the deadline? I know there will be people out there that don’t have this problem, but I’m one of those that needs the pressure of a deadline to make me work.

I can produce enough quality pieces to keep at least some of the editors happy. However, even to get to 100 submissions I need to do two a week. I’m currently on 59 for the rolling 12 month average. It doesn’t take a maths genius to work out that is about half of what I need to do. So do I go for 75 next year, which doesn’t seem very ambitious, or do I go for 85 (better) or just go all out for 100? It won’t be the 100 rejections this article talks about but even 100 submissions is going to take a lot of work. However, I expect you’ve already guesse what I’m setting as a target from the title. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do . . .

PS, when I said I’d spent 2 hours doing  nothing much, it was just after 11am – I’ve spent another seven hours doing errands and other useless stuff since then. If they ever make procrastination an Olympic Sport I reckon I’m in with a chance. If Break Dancing (now known as “Breaking” can make it to the Olympics I don’t see why procrastination can’t.

 

 

Time, Pressure and Procrastination

Yesterday I went to work as usual, checked the overnight sale, found there were just two, and decided to catch up with some writing admin that needed doing. On an ordinary evening I have seven hours to do this and haven’t managed to do it. Yesterday, with 30 minutes to spare, I managed to get it all done. There’s something about time and pressure that makes me a lot more industrious.

I go in about an hour before I’m due to start, in case you are wondering about me skiving – it’s the time I get to work after dropping Julia off. It’s not terribly convenient, but it’s hard to do anything useful in that time when you’re worrying about getting to work on time, or worrying about getting a parking space, so it’s easier to go to work. I give them a few hours a week extra, but I don’t feel guilty if |I need an hour here and there for medical reasons and vaccination.

The same applies to submissions. I can, on a slow month, spend weeks getting round to it and then, as this month, do three in two nights when the end of the submission window starts to loom.

I still have one set of submissions, possibly two, for the end of this month, but I’m nearly there with one set and have to decided if I’m going ahead with the other.

Half of me says I should have  ago. The other half says that it’s a new editor and I don’t want to send in something that might not be 100% right. I’m in possession of three halves again, I must stop doing this. The third half has just cut in and pointed out to me that it’s never 100% right anyway and one of the editors I’m submitting to this month never takes anything anyway. We don’t seem to be fated to work together. It’s like thee is some cosmic mismatch. Or, to be more sensible, he has an idea of what a haibun should be, and I fail to match it. He has even told me, several times, why he has turned something down. I struggle to understand why he thinks I’m missing the mark. I read the magazine intently looking for a clue, and as far as I can see, many of the accepted submissions aren’t hitting the mark either.  One day, with persistence and experience, I will get one in.

Anyway, time for work now. Eighteen minutes and I have written a blog post, something that took several hours last night, including playing games and staring at the ceiling. Time pressure is good for me.

Having said that, I just realised I wrote the post as a new page rather than a new post. Another senior moment…

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Jentacular Spectacular

I imagine that all proper writers are currently walking in the countryside, writing , or at work wishing they were doing either of the other two. I am having my customary Monday off, and sm wasting my time playing Nine Men’s Morris on the computer.  However, I have taken a grip of myself and am now writing after squandering most of the last 100 minutes on games and emails and checking eBay.

The post has just arrived so I will pick that up and on the way back I might as well put the kettle on. I’m not expecting anything good in the post so it will only be bills and circulars, but any displacement activity is welcome to a keyboard loafer.

On the way to the kettle I noticed we had a single wrap left in the bag. We have been keeping a few in as they stop us running out of breadlike substances for packed lunches. One isn’t much use though, They make a very good substitute for an oatcake so I thought while I was waiting for the kettle to boil I might as well stick a bit of bacon in this one and thus clean up the kitchen a bit. I added mushrooms, because we have quite a lot of them too, four small tomatoes which are going a bit soft, and a spring onion, cut in half and then sliced lengthways. When cooked and wrapped it did indeed make a passable substitute for an oatcake. I now feel much more able to face the day and do some work.

My Orange Parker Pen

The post wasn’t quite useless, as it contains my copy of Poetry Review. The outer, which looks like it is compostable, though it doesn’t actually say so, contains the magazine plus a number of extras – a copy of Poetry News, which I normally skim and recycle, a flyer for the Winchester poetry Prize, which I won’t enter, a Bloodaxe Catalogue and the Winners’ Anthology for the National poetry Competition. I’ll read the Bloodaxe catalogue and dream about being in it, and I’ll read the anthology so that I can feel affronted that, once again, I didn’t even make the long-list. However, after my recent success in the BHS competition I am content.

Can anyone answer a grammar question while you are here? Is it a Winners’ Anthology, as it doesn’t belong to them, or is it a Winners Anthology because its’s an anthology by more than one winner?

You can read the winners here.

And, of course, there is Poetry Review. It’s a serious magazine full of serious poems. It contains essays, translations and reviews. I confess that I don’t always read it all. I’m going to read some of it before lunch, then I’m going to write Limericks. Once my mind is receptive to lightness again I have haiku to write, as I am suffering a haiku deficiency and my haikuless haibun collection is crying out for closure.

 

 

Restrospective

I’ve had a bad few days struggling with time management, fluency and my internal editor. I am now just going to sit down and write. This is post 2,300 so I really should have got the hang of it by now.

All that time ago, I intended to advertise the work of Quercus Community and to educate the world about aspects of nature. Eight hundred thousand words later it looks like I ended up writing about poetry and Cup a Soup. that was not how I envisaged the blog developing. Nor was it how I imagined my life unfolding.

Later…

Well, I nearly sat down and wrote. What actually happened was that Julia rang up wanting a lift back from the laundrette, we went to lunch at KFC, dropped in at the garden centre and had a drive round.  I can’t quite remember, but I think thi is our first outing since the autumn. Unless you count going to work as an outing. Even my social life isn’t so bad that I need to consider going to work as an outing. Not quite.

While we were out I noted the varieties of tree and flower blooming. I’m a poet, I need to know these things. The crocuses are gone, the daffodils are in full flower and the primroses just beginning to show. We did see a good clump of something that looked a lot like purple crocuses, but which turned out to be some sort of dead nettle – probably ground ivy but I’m a bit patchy on identifying dead nettles. They are all edible, so it doesn’t really matter if you are just wanting something to sprinkle on a salad.

With that number of words I could have written eight books. That would be more impressive as an answer when asked what I wrote. “Eight books”, even if they are about Cup a Soup , is a much more impressive answer than “a blog”. And even “a blog” is a more impressive answer than “haibun”. At least people have heard of blogs.

We’ve just had tea and banana cake. We are trying to make the cake last.

There we go, it’s nonsense, but at least it’s fluent nonsense.

I’m now feeling the urge to write about Cup a Soup.

My Favourite Day

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.

Orange Parker Pen

 

Lazy Sunday – not an Unusual Day

Today I have watched some TV, eaten chocolates, snoozed and cooked brunch. I have then pottered around on eBay, cruised the web, done some reading on WP and decided on the menu for tonight. Yes, eating loafing and little else has been the pattern of my day.

Depending on which government advice you believe (it is all getting a bit confused) we are either out of quarantine or almost out of quarantine.

It is nearly half past six in the evening and I am only just getting to grips with writing. I really am going tom have to start a procrastination diary to see how I manage to waste all this time. As I’m going to cook soon I will leave it until tomorrow…

I have enjoyed the ramble through old photos, and am feeling more inclined to get out, do some walking and take some more photos. On the other hand i still have the rheumatology specialist’s advice at the back of my mind – stay indoors and don’t even go to the shops. This advice has not been passed down via the NHS, as thy are currently vaccinating the over-65s. When thy get down to the over-60s and call me, this will be confirmation that I am not at any increased risk of death from Covid. Fat, high blood pressure and on drugs to supress my immune system, but not, according to the NHS, at any increased risk. So was all the talk of “underlying health conditions” just hype, or have the NHS, once again, proved to be bad record keepers. Past experience suggests both explanations are equally feasible.

My blood test results came back on Friday – a am in the middle of the range, but now have to have tests every two weeks or so until I can get back to three-monthly intervals.

I suppose there are worse things than getting up at 6.30 and visiting a building full of sick people…

Top photo is physalis, or Cape Gooseberry,  Inca berry or ground cherry. Easy to grow in UK as long as you can get them under cover. There is a decorative form – the Chinese lantern – which does grow outdoors but doesn’t fruit.

The other photo is the beach at Dunwich, featuring that well-known cliché – a fishing boat on the beach.

On the beach at Dunwich. The square block in the background is a nuclear power station, which you can also see in my Aldeburgh photos.

 

Procrastination – a Primer

I watched a programme about alpaca farming earlier in the week. One of the farmers had been a professional writer all his life and had fitted in a career as a circus ringmaster.

He was now fitting in life as an alpaca farmer with his writing. He said, as it showed him settling down to type, that the farming had helped him focus, and that his writing had improbed as he no longer had time for writer’s block.

I feel the same way about procrastination. It’s so hard to fit in when you have work to do. I no longer have the luxury of sitting at the computer wondering what to do, if I’m going to fritter my time away I need to start frittering immediately.

Freecell isn’t going to solve itself, and who will stroke the vanity of all those Hollywood stars if I don’t click to see what they look like now. or click to see what that man found in his back garden.

After I’ve done that I need to read poetry, because we all know we can’t be successful writers if we don’t read the genre we are attempting to write.

Then the shopping list needs doing. I forgot to add breakfast cereal to the list last week and Julia is grumpy because she is having to eat bran flakes instead of Weetabix. To me that’s like the doctor asking if you’d rather have eczema or psoriasis. (I’ve toned that down for a family audience, and taken the opportunity to show off my spelling, in case you didn’t notice).

I’d rather have porridge, but I prefer lying under the covers until the last minute, whimpering about getting up on a cold, dark, morning. Normally I zoom downstairs late, splash milk on something that promises to deliver health and high fibre, and plough through it. Frankly, weekday breakfasts are a penance rather than a pleasure, but even after twenty years as a non-smoker I haven’t found anything to replace cigarettes and tea as the perfect start to the day. Apart from Sunday, when I favour fried food. Healthy choices do not come easily to me.

Time to serve up the tea now. It’s ratatouille served in the style of a pasta bake. I’m trying to sound enthusiastic, but it’s hard when you really want a Chinese takeaway…

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Poppy and chamomile

The day is passing faster and faster.

Julia is on the phone to one of her needier clients. Again, I cannot describe the conversation due to issues of confidentiality, but it is circular. And long. And, as it is on something modern like an app or a zoom, it is loud and intrusive too. She might be working from home but technically this is a day off for me, even if I am treating it as a work day. Obviously in this context “work” is an expression of hope rather than fact.

I have researched a number of magazines as recipients for the articles I wish to write. I have read several of the magazines more deeply than necessary and I have made a list of possible articles. My plan is at the stage known as “getting there”. In other words it is a rag-bag of elements which don’t amount to much.

It is more of an intention or an outline. Time for some more work, but this time I will do it in front of the TV whilst watching Pointless. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Ironically that’s a very dull saying. Equally ironically, I haven’t done much work.

Back again…

Having watched Pointless and failed in a few rounds – notably the modern music and the football questions – I meant to get back to work. Instead, I watched Eggheads. It is one of the dullest quizzes around, but we had tea and biscuits and I can never resist temptation to sit and drink tea, with or without biscuits. As a late lunch we had corn on the cob (Julia went out for a walk and, as usual, nipped into a shop to buy something. She can’t break the habit. Today she bought corn on the cob.)

I am quite hungry now and have just put the vegetables into the oven to roast. Carrots, parsnips, leeks and potatoes. I will put sprouts in when I put the pasties in. It’s a meal we have nearly every week but I never get fed up of it. Apart from being year round comfort food, it’s healthy and easy to make.

It’s been eleven hours since I started “work” and I have not managed to complete anything yet, apart from some TV viewing and three blog posts.

As I started this one I noticed my total was 2,000 which means I missed the chance to write a post about reaching my 2,000th post. I may have to plough on to 2,020 before marking the occasion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I’m now going to put the pasties in and about 25 minutes after that will make the gravy. It’s only made with gravy granules, so is nothing exciting. Then I had better get the shopping ordered. I only have until midnight and it can be a slow process. I also get distracted easily.

I have already done the shopping list relating to the spice kits – we will be having linguine with prawns and rocket. I’m not sure why, because we make that anyway.

We are also having Iranian Vegetable Stew, which apparently takes its inspiration from Persia and North Africa. This tends to suggest it isn’t really Iranian or a proper recipe, just some vegetables to soak up some spices they wanted to get rid of. Pardon my cynicism. I keep meaning to give ras-el-hanout a try, so this is my chance.

Finally we will be having nasi goreng. I’ve wanted to try it since I read about it as a teenager reading my dad’s Somerset Maugham books. It’s typical that I’ve always steered clear of cooking it in case it didn’t live up to my expectations. Next week will be an interesting time.

I will try to take photographs before I eat everything.

Photos are recycled from here.

Eleven Photos and the Benefits of Blogging

Mint Moth

Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V

A Short Trip through a Shallow Mind

So much to do, so little time.

I’ve just looked at my life, recoiled in horror, and tried to write a “to do” list.

Wash up

Cook tea

Clear my “desk” (which is a dining room table)

Watch TV and relax

Write a blog post

Write a poem

Dream up a way of making money

Start putting stuff on eBay

Cook the ratatouille for tomorrow

Wash up after cooking

Browse eBay

Do the photographs for my talk at the Numismatic Society (six weeks away!) Eeek!

Declutter

Organise my collection

Organise my underwear. Some of it is older than the kids. There is a definitely diaphonous quality to some of them, caused by the material wearing so thin a good sneeze might make them disintegrate. But I’m a married man, so I don’t need to impress anyone with the quality of my undergarments.

Read

Write another “to do” list – this one is getting too long

Read up on growing food from scraps as recommended by Higgledy Piggledy Mom

Visit Derrick and Tootlepedalto check on new developments in how to age disgracefully. A quick scan indicates that Derrick looks set to drown in pursuit of photography and TP has been watching a helicopter move a portable toilet. Jackie, the saint who is married to Derrick, has been photographing his antics, presumably for an entry in the Darwin Awards.

Write a list of all the other blogs I need to catch up with.

Lavinia

Clare

Charlie

Laurie

Lots of others.

Procrastinate. It’s not an entry you expect to see on a “to do” list but if I don’t procrastinate I’m going to have to start the washing up and make ratatouille.

Wrestle with conscience – Julia is out. If I ring for a Chinese takeaway she won’t know. I can wash away the evidence, mask the smell and…then I’ll tell her. I always do. I just don’t seem to be able to keep a secret. It means I lead a blameless life and never have anything on my conscience very long. I  would make a dreadful criminal.

Ah well, washing up it is then…

The featured image is completely random.

Cold, Wet and Miserable

Yesterday morning when we left the house the day was beautiful – just the right temperature with a bright blue sky and a goldfinch perched incongruously on a TV aerial singing its heart out.

I wasted the rest of the day labouring on a computer in a windowless back room thinking of freedom and foolproof ways to kill my co-workers. This isn’t time wasted as it will eventually become the plot for one of my planned series of crime novels. The motive still needs work – nobody is going to believe that someone is murdered because he keeps moving the scissors – but I am being pushed to the edge. The only thing that prevents a fatal stabbing at the moment is the fact I can never find the bloody scissors.

What a contrast with today.

I stuck my head out of the door into a gloomy world with a low grey sky and only the chatter of a magpie to serve as a soundtrack. Even that stopped before I reached the car. No doubt it had found something small and defenceless to eat.

Wednesday is my day off but today was not to be filled with fun because it is MOT day. Actually, yesterday was MOT day, but because I’m a poor organiser it didn’t get done. Yesterday it had a new windscreen to replace the one that was cracked in Stoke on Trent as that sort of damage means a fail in the test.

Have I really being procrastinating for six months? That’s world class procrastination.

Fortunately the law allows you to drive without a valid MOT certificate as long as you are driving directly to a test station to keep a previously booked appointment.

They rang me just before lunch to tell me it had failed despite the new screen. It seems that one of the tyres I didn’t replace after the holiday had failed because of damage to the inner side-wall. It’s now cost me £325 for 3 tyres, the excess for the windscreen insurance and the MOT. Car ownership is starting to look like an expensive hobby.

They rang just after lunch to tell me it was ready, but when I stuck my head out of the door it was pouring down. I’d been typing in the dining room and hadn’t noticed. It was heavy, blustery and constant.

Half an hour later it was still blustery and constant, but it was heavier. And my coat was in the car. I have another coat. Unfortunately that was also in the car. My habit is to wear a coat while I am outside, walk back to the car, put it in the car and then walk into the house without the coat. This means I always have a coat with me when we go out.

It also means that, having failed to take the hint offered by the morning’s grey sky, I had walked home without a coat. It’s only quarter of a mile. Who needs a coat for that distance?

Fortunately I do have a third coat. Unfortunately, I’ve had it a while and I can no longer fasten it. I’ve noticed this with clothes. As they get older they seem to get smaller.

So, to summarise. Heavy rain, gusting wind. Coat that won’t fasten. Nothing for it but to grit my teeth and walk. At least my back will stay dry, I thought.

That’s where my new haircut came into play. With a newly shaved head there is nothing to impede rain as it runs off your shiny scalp and down your neck.

Later that day we went shopping. I checked my lottery tickets and found I had won £2.70.

Some days you think fate is laughing at you.

Other days you are certain it is.