Tag Archives: submissions

Day 128

The honeysuckle at the bottom of the garden was, according to Julia, heaving with bees and insect life. It’s down two flights of steps, due to our hillside location, and I decided not to risk it, so there are no photographs. I really must find my spirit of adventure and start getting out again.

The poppies are doing well in the front and there were plenty of insects in the rosemary and valerian, though the rosemary flowers are tailing off. It is a much under-rated shrub, being able to survive a drought, grow in poor soil and shrug off neglect. This is fortunate, as that is precisely the way I look after it. I will be rooting some cuttings this year as I am feeling the need for more rosemary. There is plenty of room in the back garden for more plants and I do hate buying things if I can grow them.

From a poetry point of view, today has been a productive day. I have lacked focus and direction, but have produced in quantity. Before going to bed, I will be looking at this month;s deadlines and dividing some of the work up to ensure I am working towards making submissions.

Last month was poor for submissions, but sometimes you just need to allow yourself to slack a little. I’m now feeling fully recovered. The strange thing is that if you’d asked me in February, March or April I would have said I had recovered. However, it’s undeniable that I felt a lot better last week – whether due to time, season or just getting more sleep.

Day 31

It didn’t seem natural to begin with, but numbering instead of titling the posts now seems normal, and saves time. However, unlike a finely crafted pun or alliteration there is little satisfaction to be gained from just writing a number. I may have to reconsider later in the year.

All my submissions are in and there is still an hour to spare. It isn’t the best way of doing things, but it certainly got me moving. Five submissions in three days, and some of them weren’t even written at this time last night. I think we can say that the pressure got me writing again. I’m just contemplating using the time difference between here and the USA to my advantage, but that might be overdoing it.

I now need to update my submissions log. I also need to write the submissions plan for the coming year. Then I need to sort out my haiku and tanka. Because they don’t have titles, and because I’ve taken my eye off the ball, I have lost control of them and don’t know what’s what. That was one of the reasons I had to write new tanka, I just can’t remember where I’ve sent some of the existing ones before, and I can’t recall every accepted one.

Time for bed now, and the admin and other problems can wait.

Here is the Larkin poem – it’s not quite as good as I remember it, but then I have deteriorated with the passing of the years. It was originally in Failed Haiku Number 62 and there are a few notes about it here and here.

Hidden Worlds

He wears a grey gaberdine and rides a bicycle from church to church.
In his head he composes poems about sex and tombs. On YouTube he
flickers in black and white, like a newsreel from the 1950s. Smiles are
clearly still on ration.

Larkin used more bad language than you normally expect from a
librarian. This becomes understandable when you find that he started
his day with half a bottle of sherry.

monochrome photo
my parents younger than me
1963

The header picture is the sort of picture I think a poet should have -, not like the pale and washed out old codger that actually appears in my biographical notes.

 

Day 30

In terms of creativity and industry things haven’t worked out that well. In other ways it has been  a pleasant and relaxing day. This qualifies it as a tick in the “good day” column of the celestial ledger, and I am now bringing it to a close with a smile on my face.

Normally I like to approach a deadline with plenty of material already written and refined. My deadline is 31st January which is tomorrow (for the next 22 minutes, when it will become “today”.

Fortunately, last time I had a rejection all the ten haiku had been written a few days before submission so I was able to look at them again and make improvements (I know I ought to give time for them to mature, but it always seems like I don’t have enough). I’m hoping that one will be acceptable this time round.

Submitting to editors is an art and not a science. What works with one editor doesn’t necessarily work with another and many of my poems have been accepted after two or three rejections. The best example I have is my haibun about Philip Larkin. I’ll add it at the bottom of post if I can find it. That haibun went out four times and came back four times. I tinkered a little each time to tighten it up, but didn’t change it too much. The fourth time it came back I sent it out again the next day and had it accepted in two days. Which goes to show that you can never tell what is around the corner. I have seen interviews where established writers have sent out poems a lot more than that. I don’t have that sort of confidence. After three or four failures I usually retire them.

However, I’ve been trawling through them today, looking for pieces that are good enough to send out. I’ve found three, polished them, and sent them out and am now looking for three more. After that I just need to write ten tanka in the next 23 hours and I’m laughing.

There are several more deadlines that I decided to ignore. One journal has been rejecting me constantly since a change of editor, for instance, and another is fond of heavy-handed editing. I’m going to give them a miss this month and catch them next time they come round.

In fact, I’d better get back to work – ten tanka won’t write themselves.

Later, far too much later on a work night, I have all three of the next batch of haibun assembled, and I realised I forgot the Larkin piece. I will search it out tomorrow.

 

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Back to Normal

Things are about back to normal now. I am still sticking to one sandwich for lunch and work seems OK, though I’m still having difficulty remembering where things are. This isn’t helped by the fact that the owner decided to “tidy up” while we were all off (he spent some of his isolation time working in the shop), Why he thinks that moving stock into random places without telling anybody is an improvement, I do not know. However, it’s his time he’s wasting, not mine.

My legs are still a bit weak after weeks of enforced rest but I am making progress on that.

I struggled to submit anything in September, but did manage a few things (mainly things that were already written and just needed tidying). I have three poems in Cattails this month – pages 86, 89 and 133 if you fancy a look.

I have also had acceptances from three other magazines (though only one will be available online) and will no doubt mention it again when it is published.

At one point, when I was really struggling to string words together, I actually thought I’d run to the end and would never write again. Fortunately that passed off after a week, as I don’t know what I’d do to replace it. At the moment I’m not writing much because I mainly work, eat, watch TV and go to bed early. I’m still sleeping off the Covid.

It is probably time to prepare a plan to make sure I spend my time wisely. However, for now I will just sleep.

 

 

Marmalade Hoverfly

8.23

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.

Ah well, off for breakfast now – see you later.

A Writer’s Progress

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.

Sorry, I’m struggling tonight.

 

 

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.

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Time to Try Tanka

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.

Running Like a Hamster

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.

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

 

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…

 

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