Tag Archives: writing

Writing, but more importantly, Reading

Just before falling asleep in the early hours of the morning I had an idea. This time I had my pad and pen ready and I wrote a quick note to myself.

This morning I felt like a proper writer. I so far as I am a person who puts words down on paper so that others can read them, I suppose I can call myself a writer. IN the sense of someone who makes marks on paper with a writing instrument so that I can read them later, the situation is not so clear cut. I’d definitely done something that approximated to writing on my pad. The marks were there. But it lacked the important element of me being able to read it later

It’s a bit like Mallory’s (possible) conquest of Everest. If you don’t get back down have you really conquered the mountain?

I stared at the riot of loops and whirls, done with a scratchy and slightly dry fibre tip pen and began to panic.  Is this, I asked myself, what dementia feels like?

Anyway, as my eyes recalibrated themselves for the grey morning light (I find that they no longer lap into action these days but take a while to get going, much like the rest of me) a few words started to show .  Even then, in the absence of memory, no meaning emerged. This isn’t surprising as a number of the words I seem to have used have escaped the notice of the OED.  There were 28 words in the note, for several minutes, and several readings, I couldn’t read a single word. It took another few minutes to extract half a dozen words, then it all fell into place.

Our the lent fen gus I line swiss by cuckolded winter. Blog beige abunt layings and precurstractor has benignly bun the wounded layet hucid hut for my new carver.

When I say “all fell into place” I may be exaggerating slightly. It took another effort before my synapses fired up.

Over the last few years I have seriously considered becoming a content writer. Blog being about laziness and procrastination has basically been the longest suicide note for my new career.

In other words, if you want to use a blog to get writing jobs, don’t blog about being lazy and unreliable.

As it turns out, while I was considering the new career the market was flooded with students offering to write for next to nothing, so I didn’t actually lose anything.

 

The Second Post and Working Hard

Here is the list and the results so far.

Done

Wash up breakfast pots

Make Cheese on Toast mixed with eggs and onions (OK, not quite soup)

Work on partially completed poems (completed two, edited four, found one I thought I’d lost)

Lunch

Research on bird names (needed for a haibun)

Research on free range pigs  (needed for a haibun)

Reorganised haibun files (not on list)

Wrote 200 words for a blog post (not on list)

Browse internet (research for the above post – not on list)

 

Part Done

Sort out two submissions

 

Not Done Yet

Start two poems I have notes for

Write haiku/senryu

Research for article – Bomb Disposal

Research for article – RNLI

Pick Julia up

Cup of tea, TV, nap

Cook stir fry

Write more

Write post (500 words) about how hard I’ve been working today.

I have about 45 minutes before I am leaving to collect Julia – wish me luck.

This Moment

I have hit on a productive creative strategy – thinking whilst putting my socks on. After a certain amount of success with the technique yesterday, I managed to think about three projects this morning, including synopses and a few lines. Full of confidence, I set off down the stairs and, en route, completely forgot one of the pieces. Not only can I not recall the plan and lines, I can’t even remember the subject.

Fortunately two of them survived and the lesson about always having a pen and notebook available has been driven home. The trouble is that I either find myself with no notebook or too many notebooks. I am actually struggling with too many at the moment. I completed taking the notes from one last night but have one big book to do next and a few shorter notes to retrieve from other books. I can have as many as six or seven other books – upstairs, car, work, desk, living room, spares…

Then. like this morning, I can have none where I want them.

Nothing much else has happened today. I’ve dressed, thought, made two of the three notes I meant to make, had breakfast, read a few poems, checked a few things on Wiki, wrote a comment on  a website and wrote this. Time goes, but nothing of consequence has been done.

I will now have another cup of tea, sit by the fire with an A4 pad and start to plan. After lunch (which will probably be soup and sandwiches) I must do something of consequence.

Alternatively I may watch Murder She Wrote.

“ It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

Omar Khayyam

Another Day, Another Post

Well, the general feeling seems to be that most people write because they enjoy it or they love words (or probably both). Tootlepedal writes to remind himself he’s still alive and write because I’m addicted to it. I also enjoy it, love words and, deep down, believe that someone is going to recognise my talent and give me money.

To be honest, it is looking like the only way i”m likely to make money from writing is by diversifying into kidnapping people and writing ransom notes. I could try kidnapping Boris and threaten to release him unless people send me money. However, I’d better be careful. If someone actually tries it I could find that my blog becomes a matter for discussion in court and what started as “humour” is probably going to be seen in a different light when it is labelled “evidence”. It will also involve buying a suit and tie, which is an expense I can do without.

I dropped Julia off at work this morning and drove back to join the main road via a side-street. That gave me an idea for a haibun and I had two more shortly after. I can’t use the voice recorder I bought recently because it is too small for my big, stiff fingers. I should have spent more money and bought one I could actually use. That is false economy of the first order. That meant I had to keep repeating the ideas to myself as I drove along. If I allow myself to relax I tend to forget. And if I forget I convince myself I have just forgotten my best ever poem. This is unlikely to be true, but it’s annoying to forget anything, even the bad ones.

At work I purloined (which sounds better than “stole”) some office stationery and wrote the rough outlines of the three haibun before making some notes which might turn into something. But they might not/ If I don’t tell you, nobody can ask how the new project is going. Or even if there is a new project…

Tonight we had corned beef hash for tea. It featured the remains of yesterdays vegetable stew, a tin of corned beef, onions, leeks and a pack of ready chopped vegetables. I will have it for lunch tomorrow too, as I made far too much. Fortunately I like corned beef hash. I would probably enjoy it nearly as much without the corned beef, which is something I will have to think about as we eat more veg and less meat.

 

 

PW Crigglestone

Writing and Inspiration (Part 1)

I’m feeling like I’m in the middle of a desert at the moment. Inspiration for both blog and haibun is thin on the ground and just as I wrote some new haibun, I stopped thinking of subjects for blog posts. You may have noticed.

The old Field of Dreams approach to ideas (if you write it, they will come) has let me down recently. I know that ideas are supposed to flow more freely as you have them, and that there is an infinite supply of ideas out there, but every so often, it stops. My notebooks tell the story – dozens of two line entries, scribbled out. This is the internal editor in full swing.

It’s probably confidence. When you are being published on a regular basis you relax and write things knowing that you can go back to them. When you hit a slump you get less relaxed and start becoming more critical. That’s what happened with the haibun. In the case of the blog I merely sit here staring at a screen and think “2,000 posts, what can I possible write that’s new?” I can’r even add photos because the system tends to freeze when I try, and even when they load I can’t see them. I know that I’m loading the photos for others to see, but it’s still hard to stay motivated if I can’t see them myself.

Domestic life is not offering much of interest (at the back of my mind there’s a light flashing on and off warning me that the wedding anniversary is coming up and I have nothing planned, but that is, to be fair, not unusual). We have been married over 11,000 days and I’m not sure I make every one of them a joy for Julia. Corona virus is an old subject, work is just work and little is happening there which hasn’t happened before.

Two of those things may be linked – corona virus is stopping us doing a lot of things, and a trip to Derbyshire for tea, cake and jewellery would solve the wedding anniversary problem, it’s just that we shouldn’t really be travelling.

Deep down, I come to a question. What do I write for? I’d be interested in the answers of other people on that, just to see how many reasons there are.

I write because I’m addicted. Deep down, I just can’t stop. In my teens I wanted to write as a career, to earn money and to attend literary lunches. I’m still not clear what a literary lunch is, but I knew that writers went to them.

Nottingham U15s

Nottingham U15s

 

 

Writing come and goes in my life. At one time I had so much on with two kids participating in sports that I didn’t have time for much writing, apart from endless match reports. That started when I volunteered to do the match reports for the Under 12s. They went well. Nobody noticed my grip of rugby wasn’t all it could be, and everybody  liked seeing their kid get their name in print. Then the Under 10s asked if I would do their reports too, as the parent doing them was writing five line reports which mentioned his kid three times and his kids’s best mate twice and did little for team unity. My reports, even when I wasn’t there to watch, were regarded as more accurate than his.

Here, in case you ever need it, is my template for a junior match report.

  1. Start with “Fixtures between Nottingham and X are traditionally hard fought/one-sided/a waste of my Sunday morning” (you may want to gloss that one up a little).
  2. Move on to “Things started briskly/slowly, with both teams testing the opposition.”
  3. Add “from the set piece”, “turnover ball”, “against the head”, “blindside” and “effort” in varying proportions.
  4. Use the words “cynical” and “lucky” in relation to the opposition. Your team are “well-drilled” and “reap the rewards of hard work in training”.
  5. Mention every child by name. Yes, it’s difficult. Only five of them are any good, with ten average players making up the numbers. You will also have several players who are there because their dad insists, one or two who are there because this is the only sport for fat kids and one who is so uncoordinated he has trouble walking in a straight line. Two mentions if they were really good, three only if they score a hat-trick. You need a full squad, and it’s mainly about effort and being with your mates. They all turn up, they all freeze, they all deserve a mention.
  6. Do not criticise the referee, the opposition, the opposition parents, the parents of the referee, or anyone else. The report, amongst other things, is about building character and manners.
  7. Thank the referee whenever possible. If he has been so bad it might seem sarcastic to thank him, you may omit this step. Very few referees step onto the pitch intending to be bad, and they are giving up their free time so that junior sport can go ahead. I say “few” as several parents and coaches ref matches with the sole intention of cheating their way to victory. I saw three of these in ten years, so they are very rare. See Point 6.
  8. Stress team work, praise effort, point out the successful coaching points, thank the parents, thank the catering. 
  9. Feel free to quote sporting memoirs and poetry. This is particularly true when you want to add something uplifting after a heavy defeat in freezing mud. In general, Kipling and the Victorians did some good quotes. It’s best to avoid poems that feature words like Devizes and Nantucket as they encourage unfortunate rhymes. They are all very well in the clubhouse on a Saturday night, but not in a junior match report.
  10. Add a selection of stats at the bottom of the page, including the names again, and remind them about training times, the next match, subscriptions and anything else they like to ignore, like when it’s your turn to run the kitchen or the car parking. Parents have busy lives and tend to forget that sort of stuff.

That, I think, completes the post. It grew out of a random word and I am going to have to write a second part to finish it off. Sorry if it wandered off subject a bit.

Midlands RL at European Youth Festival

Midlands RL at European Youth Festival

 

The Day So Far

Summary: Started well but tailed off towards mid-day.

Rose at 6.30, dressed, had cereal for breakfast, drove to City Hospital, found car parking was still free, found a space.

7.15 – took ticket number 16 in Phlebotomy, hummed a few bars of a well known show tune of my youth, and waited. And waited.

13 came out, 14 went in. 14 came out. 15 went in. 16, of course, waited. There was a sound of chatter from the room. A member of staff went in, came out, went back in with a phone, came out, the chatter continued…

I have noticed this tendency for them to introduce random pauses into the system before.

Was finally admitted into the room, which had three staff, five bays, room for ten people (according to the sign on the door) and no patients. Number 17 was allowed in seconds after me, as they had plenty of space.

I was punctured efficiently, donated the required tubeful and left.

Picked Julia up and took her to work, then went to see my jeweller friends for the first time in just over four months. Moaned about business, drank tea.

Went across the road to collect something from the pharmacy. Involved in a disorderly queue which included a deaf man and a wiry-haired dog of indeterminate breed but great character. Had trouble re-crossing the road due to traffic until a young woman in a Nissan Micra stopped to let me cross. Since when have I become an avuncular recipient of charity from young women drivers?

Got home, plotted world domination, thought of my sandwich options for lunch.

Booked the car in for MOT next Wednesday. If my MOT date had been two weeks earlier I would have qualified for the six month extension, but I don’t. Typical of my luck.

Tried to arrange a repeat prescription on-line. Didn’t work. It didn’t work last month either. Rang the surgery who told me to email it, just like last month. Enquired as to why it constantly refuses to work and was told to email a photo in so they can check my identity. Was verging on sarcastic as I pointed out that it would just be the same photo ID that I used when proving my ID last time. Can’t believe it is this difficult to get 100 Warfarin tablets. It would be easier to buy rat poison,

Screwfix sell one ready made into blocks with “culinary-grade wheat flour, chopped grain, soft lard and synthetic peanut butter flavouring”. I’m not known as a gastronome, but that sounds delicious.

I’m still thinking about that sandwich. Maybe toasted cheese…

This afternoon I will write, before picking Julia up from work.

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Yes, it’s actually my writing, though even I can’t read it…

Sunday Morning

It’s mid-day on Sunday and, as usual, or morning has not been marked by a frantic rush. We had porridge with blackberries as a healthy breakfast. It would have been porridge with blueberries but I seem to have hit the wrong button whilst shopping. That may be a good thing, but it might be a bad thing. To some people it may even be a matter of indifference, though to my mind there’s something wrong with people who keep calm in the face of provocation by their internet shopping. I suppose it’s a test of personality.

When your shopping goes wrong do you

(a) curse the evils of modern technology?

(b) welcome the opportunity for new experiences?

(c) blame the Government?

I usually go with (a). None of the new experiences I’ve had from internet shopping – frozen spinach, plastic cheese, sour blackberries – have actually enhanced my life.

There’s no point blaming the Government, or any Government, because with rare exceptions they aren’t really in charge of what is happening. They just talk about how bad the last lot were and shove their snouts deeper into the trough.

I just went off on a 200 word tangent about politicians. It’s clearly going to be one of those posts where much is written but not so much is posted.

I can’t help wondering if this makes it a stronger post and thinking of an article I once read about composing haibun.

It recommended editing until you managed to remove the subject of the haibun, leaving the reader with a feeling about the unspoken subject – the ultimate ‘show don’t tell’ technique. At least I think that was what it said. And I think it was about haibun. I really ought to make notes.

It’s a bit bit like homeopathic medicine where you dilute the cure so much it is no longer there. I’m on surer ground there because that was on Wikipedia.

There’s a big gap on Wikipedia when it comes to discussion on composing haibun. This is ironic when you consider a gap was what I was researching.

close up of eyeglasses on book

Photo by ugurlu photographer on Pexels.com

For details of the afternoon, check here.

Wednesday Again

Today I got up late, as I don’t see any point in having a day off and flinging myself out of bed at dawn, or any time approximating to dawn. The benefit of having two days off together (as I did this week due to a rearrangement of our days in the shop) is that you can work into the early hours of the morning, pretending to be creative. I say ‘pretending’ because I’m not sure I do my best work when I’m half asleep.

I read for the first hour of waking, then went downstairs.

I had written four haibun last night and, after replying to comments on the blog and reading a few other blogs I got down to work.

All four needed considerable tightening up, and that’s what they got.

Then, at 12.00 I decided to have lunch, as I hadn’t actually had breakfast. Sourdough toast, tinned plum tomatoes, fried mushrooms and scrambled eggs, in case a future reader is interested. It’s not exciting or healthy, but it’s what we had in the fridge. A bit like my writing, which is what happens to be kicking around in my head when I sit at the keyboard.

That turned into a short spell of watching TV and a rather longer one of napping. I don’t know why I needed a nap, perhaps because I could.That led on to doing the washing up and doing a bit more writing. After that there was more TV, a discussion of shopping lists, a meal of stir-fried vegetables, the on-line shopping order and this blog post. Actually there was a previous blog post but it developed in a way I couldn’t be bothered to complete, so it is now resting in drafts.

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Light and Shade

TESCO have increased the delivery charge – I am now paying them £4.50 to pick and deliver my groceries, where it used to cost £3. That’s £75 a year, though if I had to drive to the shop every week I suppose it would cost me about that in car running costs and time.

That’s it for now. The post is drawing to a natural close, midnight is approaching and I need to do my sandwiches for tomorrow.

It’s tempting to ramble on a bit to try for 500 words, but I’m going to stop now. Three hundred and eighty nine will have to do. (If I’d written 389, it would only have been 385 and I wouldn’t have been able to add this sentence and top it up to 412). I just noticed, on  adding a title to the second photo, that the word count went up. Strange…

 

Wednesday – Tackling the Backlog

We went to Bakewell today. We went to Bakewell last Wednesday too. We may not be exciting but we are consistent.

However, this highlights a problem – I still have a lot of photos from last week. I also have a food review from last week, and I already have another one from this week.

This is a small backlog, but one which, in normal circumstances I would normally ignore. Things would be left and I would move on. I don’t delude myself, life goes on even in the absence of my views on traffic, tourists and charity shops, and nobody will feel a sense of loss if I don’t get round to writing about my hot pork sandwich. As for the book reviews I was planning – I wrote a book review in January 2019 and another in December. I’m guessing that most people don’t really visit the blog for my book reviews.

However, after a good night’s sleep, a lovely day in Derbyshire and a Valentine’s Day Gift that went right (and took a load off my mind) I am feeling inspired to work.

The lack of poetry writing in my life is also a factor. If I write prose I can pretend I am too busy when, in truth, I’m lazy, unimaginative and uninspired. Being busy prevents me facing up to that. I can write “lazy, unimaginative and uninspired” and still feel good because I’m writing about eating cake and looking at ducks.

Dog owners were a notable feature of the day. I think dogs are lower down the evolutionary scale than cats, I don’t like them in cafes and I tend to think that anything bigger than a terrier should be banned from living in town. However, I have to say that the dogs today were charming, full of character and attended by a great bunch of owners, who all seemed sensible, cheerful and enthusiastic about dogs. It was good to see, and really cheered the day up, to be honest, Cats tend to be a bit aloof, and I’ve never seen one look happy on a lead.

This post features ducks, people and a few other things from our visit to Bakewell last Wednesday. It misses out the sandwich, which will be the next post. I will then move on to this week’s visit, and the cake, but that will probably be instead of writing about Thursday or Friday.

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When the price of scrap goes up I’d cut the locks off and cash them in – I am not a great romantic

I will write about them while the weekend of storms rages around my head.

An that is how the next backlog will develop. Well, it’s one way. They also develop because I sit in the living room with Julia, chat about life, watch TV, snooze and use the netbook. It does well for an ageing, low-powered evolutionary dead-end, but it can be slow and tedious when loading photos. Hmm, ageing, low-powered evolutionary dead-end – sounds a bit like me.

I’m writing this on the computer in the cold dining room. It’s less comfortable but a lot quicker.

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The river Wye at Bakewell

An hour to waste…

As I said yesterday, I should calm down and be nicer and more patient so I’m writing this while I’m practising waiting. This is different  to merely waiting because there is an element of choice about it. I’m waiting patiently and trying to be positive.

And they say men can’t multi-task.

I saw one on Sunday who could push a shopping trolley, look at his phone, give a bad example to his children and breathe through his mouth, all at the same time.

I’m currently waiting for a gas company surveyor to check our new earthing arrangements ready for the renewal of the heating system.

They gave us a four hour time slot and I have had to take a morning off work. Fortunately they just rang to say they would be here just before 9.00, so I will actually be able to get to work on time. If this wasn’t the case I’m sure this post would have been a lot less positive.

It’s not that I really want to go to work, but I have little to commend me as an employee other than reliability and I don’t want to lose that.

Today, in addition to attempting to be more positive, I’m pondering the nature of diaries. I kept one sporadically when I was about ten, then another when I was about sixteen and in my poetic phase. Neither of them gave any hint that one day I would be a blogger with five years of blogging behind me, though it’s fair to say that they did give evidence to suggest that my spelling, grammar and punctuation would  need work. Looking back on old posts this is a theme which continues. I cannot believe how bad some of my old posts are in terms of typos, proof reading and poor writing.

This is about the time of year I normally start thinking of good intentions, New Year Resolutions and writing projects.

I have just about cured myself of the curse of New Year Resolutions and now know that good intentions butter no parsnips. However, what would life be without something to look forward to?

And so, it looks like I may become a diarist.

This, in my mind, means writing words on paper with a pen, rather than blogging, which is about cluttering cyberspace with links and pixels and all sorts of stuff I don’t understand.

Which all comes back to patience. I can knock out a blog post with a computer, some random overspill from a cluttered mind and a few spare minutes. But a diary, in my imagination at least, requires time and space and the gathering of thoughts at the end of the day. Possibly a leather topped desk, a log fire and a smoking jacket…

Sounds good.