I rose at 6.30, handed my car over for MOT at 6.45, decided to use my time wisely (reading blogs) and just went to answer a knock on the door. It was the car – returned with its new MOT Certificate. That is what I call service. If you ever need a car fixing in Nottingham, try Hillcrest Garage. I’ve been using them for years, and though they recently had to move, they are still a great garage.
I’m feeling a lot more alert than I was last night but have hit a new challenge -now that the car is back, should we go for a drive in the countryside or should I stay and write. I know what I should do, but Julia deserves a day out and we do have air conditioning in the car, which is more than we do in the house.
Decisions, decisions . . .
That was easy. We’re going out.First stop – McDonalds for breakfast, then I’m not sure what. If we go anywhere too nice it will be full people. If we go somewhere that isn’t crowded it’s probably not worth the trouble of visiting.
With six submissions in the pipeline I deserve a day out, but if we all took that sort of view nothing would ever get done. I have another submission in the bag and then there will be a bit of a struggle getting more done by the end of the month. I’ve been a bit lazy and haven’t kept up with the haibun writing – just done the haiku and the tanka.
Today I wrote my haiku in the morning, and managed 16 reasonably good ones against my target of ten.
I am now in day 68 of my Buson 100 and starting to feel that I’m gaining from it. The last week or two have been a bit difficult, but it’s getting easier now. It probably sound strange to talk about ten three line poems (probably not much more than 100 words in all) as being hard to write, but they are.
Over an hour ago I started writing this post, meaning to get it done so that I could, make tea and relax. This would, I thought, be a good way to ensure a quality post and a relaxing evening. So far, after several false starts, I have, as you can see, managed to do very little.
I finally got my submission to Wales Haiku Journal sent off, several days later than I intended. That brings me up to six submissions for June, which is one less than my record for May. I have had three acceptances and two rejections for May, with two pending. June has seen two acceptances, one rejection and I am still waiting on three decisions.
If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have said that most of a writer’s time is spent writing. That is incorrect, a lot of time is spent planning, talking, reading, worrying and counting. Particulalrly counting. In a moment I will have done 250 words and will have met my self-imposed minimum target for a blog post.
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.
Breakfast was baked eggs. I put chopped spring onions, mushrooms. ham, tomatoes and grated cheese in an oiled dish, broke on three eggs and seasoned with black pepper. It’s a substantial brunch designed to last until this evening (with possibly a scone to keep us going) so I think three eggs is OK.
In the oven for twelve minutes (it wasn’t fully heated when I put them in) and Julia said hers was a little too firm for her tastes. She will get ten minutes next time because she is a barbarian who eats eggs before they are decently hard. I was happy with my 15 minutes as I like mine hard, and don’t mind them rubbery.
It’s a simple recipe, but one I seem to have forgotten over the years. Do you have recipes like that?
There are no photos as I ate it well before thinking of them. Maybe next time…
I managed to get three submissions off last night and this afternoon I had an acceptance from the batch sent out on the 18th. I sent ten haiku and eight tanka off to two different editors at the same magazine (they often have different editors for different things and allow you to submit to both) and have now had one accepted by each editor. I’m counting it as two submissions and two acceptances. If it had been one editor at the magazine I’d have only counted it as one. This is one way I’m upping my submission numbers. The other is trying new magazines. I’ve just submitted to one that holds the record for my speediest rejection. I thought I’d give it another go. The editor has changed and the so has the system – if they like it they accept within 14 days. If they don’t like it you can submit it elsewhere after 14 days. It’s a little imprecise, but simple enough as a system, and at least they aren’t going to set any new records.
Julia is making something complicated with chicken and marinades and stuff (she takes more trouble over the food that I do). It smells good, and she has just taken it out of the oven. Time, I think, to load this and eat.
I’m also sending two tanka prose off (the inelegantly named tanka equivalent of haibun) – one of them features crepuscular rays, hence the photo.
It seems like I’ve been writing all day, and all I’ve done so far is catch up on work that I’d allowed to get behind last week. This morning’s post doesn’t really count because it had mostly been written and was just lying in drafts waiting for me to press the button. I did have a short break for lunch, but having learnt from past experience, I got back to work before a nap attack had time to occur.
I’ve not done a lot of reading recently, so I apologise for neglecting you all but things have been quite hectic. I’ve slept a little too much time away in front of the TV and I’ve put in four submissions in the last four days and I’m trying to do a fifth, though I’m not doing well on that one as I still haven’t touched it today. This is all made more time-consuming by my poor time management abilities.
I’ve also being doing another Buson 100. I did one before, and tried another which I didn’t complete. I’m now four weeks into the new one. I looked at links for the Buson 100, and you’ll never guess what – one of my posts was the fifth. Embarrassingly, it’s from my second attempt, which petered out. I know other people have done it, because I’ve seen it mentioned on several occasions, but very few people seem to want to admit it.
That is, of course, another reason why I’ve been short of time. I’m writing 70 haiku a week and trying to do a few diary notes each day to put them in context. Some days it takes twenty minutes, some days I don’t get them done. What tends to happen is that I write them down, but don’t get round to typing them up, which can be a problem on days like today, when I have fifty or sixty haiku to type plus some back-dated diary notes. Actually, I’m writing over 70 a week because I often do a few extra and when I’m typing them I often have a couple of ideas for new ones. Some of them are OK, so it’s not a waste. I will tell you more about it in another post. Meanwhile, if you don’t see me about as much as usual, it’s all part of the process. I have just about sorted it out now and am hoping to get back into the swing of things by the end of next week.
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…
I think I may be developing an artistic temperament. This is not good, as I am not an artist. I am a word mechanic and rely on calm and orderly conduct, plus a large vocabulary and a metaphorical bag of literary spanners – swapping words in and out and tightening things up as necessary. I don’t do art and I don’t do feelings.
I read through the submission guidelines of a magazine late last night and decided, despite previous decisions to the contrary, that I wasn’t going to submit. They just struck me as a bit sloppy and as I have a limited supply of poetry it seemed a waste to tie it up for three months or more when I could show it to people who would give me quicker responses (and allow me to resubmit it elsewhere).
I never seem to have enough good poetry to go round, so I can, to some extent, be selective. It’s not an approach that I want to extend, because I always feel the need to keep opportunities open, and it’s also borderline arrogance. I’m definitely not so good that I can afford to start acting like that.
However, I do remember from my business days that there are sales you don’t want to make, and sometimes you just need to walk away. In this case there are two other magazines that I can submit to. They are not necessarily quicker, but they are more professional and it is all laid out beforehand without any words like “we aim to”. That’s a bit like saying “we often don’t”.
This attitude, of course, is partly due to my involvement with haiku and haibun – those magazines seem to be a bit quicker and more poet-centred in their approach. Many poetry magazines won’t give feedback, and say so in their submission guidelines, one editor even going as far as to say that if you want feedback you should go to a writers’ group. I can’t imagine anything worse than sitting in a room full of writers and having to read my work out. Even salad and exercise seem more attractive.
Rainbow – Spring Evening
The photograph is of a rainbow we saw tonight,. Julia go a shot with her phone which showed it as a double but I was just too late. Unfortunately I can’t download the photo she took so you will have to put up with mine.
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.
I have now managed to do a few things on yesterday’s list.
I have rung the Pharmacy – got straight through this time – and given them my PORN number. If you wonder what that is (and it probably isn’t what you’re thinking) you can read it in yesterday’s post.
I have also reset my OU password and had a quick look at where I am. Having done the courses What is Poetry? and War Memorials and Commemoration, I am 31% of the way through Approaching Poetry. I haven’t done anything since 16th December, when the great password purge locked me out and ignored me over Christmas, so I’m going to have to redo the 31% to get back up to speed. I may well go through the others too, just to brush up.
As a third thing, which I should have done, but didn’t list, I have sorted out my first published haiku. I needed it for something else and also needed to check submission dates for Wales Haiku Journal. Having done all that, I thought, I may as well give it an airing alongside a couple of almost relevant photos.
I have been working towards deadlines of 25th and 31st January, thinking I had plenty of time. I don’t. It’s 21st today and I am badly prepared for 25th. I have the material, but it needs a final polish. I’m actually better prepared for the 31st, having two of the three submissions to go. Only the third needs work, the main problem being that I haven’t decided which is going to be the third piece.
With that in mind, I had better go and do some work on that instead of messing around with haiku and photos.
It was all going too well. I made lunch (which included Ryvita crispbreads instead of ordinary bread), I washed up and I cooked the evening mal ready for when Julia returns. It’s panhaggerty, though I’m not going to melt the cheese on top – too much fat, too many calories….
This proved to be the high point of the day.
First, as I opened the fridge door a pyrex plate slid out and smashed on the floor. There were two cold sausages on it, so I invoked the ten second rule and threw them into a pan of hot fat to kill any bacteria from the floor. That meant I had to have a sausage sandwich. So, smashed plate, glass all over the place and my diet gone for a Burton.
As I made the sausage sandwich I looked down on the work surface and realised that I’d left the second layer of bacon out of the panhaggerty. I had to prod it down without disturbing the layers too much. Then, forgetting that I was only wearing socks, I walked across the badly swept area where the plate had smashed. Fortunately the bits I found were only small and they didn’t do any damage, just gave me a bit of a surprise.
Next, it was over to check emails as I ate the sandwich. Part of the sausage fell out o0nto the carpet. I really have been pushing the ten second rule to its limit.
I had two replies from editors. I always think that a quick reply indicates a rejection so I ate the sandwich first. No point in spoiling a good sandwich. The first on was an acceptance, though I sent off ten haiku and three haibun and only had one haiku accepted. It’s not great, but as I spent two years trying to get into the magazine, I’m happy to have had anything accepted at all.
The second one was from my nemesis, the editor who has never accepted anything I’ve ever sent him at either of the magazines he’s been editing when I’ve tried. In a way it’s a comfort to know that in a n ever changing Covid epidemic he still won’t accept any of my work. He did send a few pointers, which is always useful, and always a good sign when an editor takes the time to do it.
The only problem is that I left room for the reader to interpret, as we are advised to do, and he seems to have interpreted it in a way that I didn’t intend. Not quite sure what this means, but I’m left with the impression that my lack of clarity means I’m an even worse writer than mere rejection suggests. I spent several downcast minutes wondering whether to laugh or cry. Then I started laughing and made a cup of tea.