Tag Archives: writing

Day 111

It’s the 21st April already and I have a deadline on 25th, followed by another on the 30th. I am going to have to get a move on. When there are only two deadlines in a month (having already taken the decision to skip the one requiring a war/global warming theme) I have to make sure I keep my work rate up. One is for an editor who has never accepted anything from me and another is for an American magazine. I don’t do well in American magazines. It looks like this month will be the one that redresses the balance of last month’s success.

I wrote that last night, as it was on my mind as i thought of what to write. Today things moved on, and I wrote an entire haibun in my head on the way home.

I have now booked my second Covid booster vaccination, having had a text to tell me to do so. However, the government site seems sceptical and wants me to take proof of my compromised immune system. Left hand and right hand seem to be acting in a slightly disconnected way. I’m having this booster because my rheumatology specialist booked me in for it six months ago because of the drugs they are giving me. I would have thought that was all the proof they needed.

In a similarly disconnected way two practice nurses and the pharmacy are trying to get blood pressure readings off me, in three different ways. One nurse wants me to take my own readings in a morning. No chance – I have enough to do. One wants to take them when I have blood tests – which is why I am thinking of going back to the hospital – they just do blood tests and don’t poke about with anything else. The pharmacy is now telling me I can get a free blood pressure test if I make an appointment. I take it from all of this that, having not bothered about it for years, they are now being told, and possibly being paid, to hassle me about blood pressure. The self-fulfilling result of all this is that my blood pressure goes up every time I think about it.

Carrot & Ginger Soup

Day 88

I’ve just written a post and discarded it. Not everything that goes on inside my head makes for good reading, particularly when it’s a discussion of the merits, or otherwise, of eating tofu. You know what I think of salad? Well I dislike tofu more. I know that’s difficult to believe, but it’s true. At least salad has flavour. Tofu, unfortunately, does not.

It’s late now, but under the titling system currently in use, I feel I must post every day and leave no gaps. If it wasn’t for that I’d just go to bed.

There’s something about a row of numbers, on the other hand,  that helps keep you up to the mark.

I’m going to try Carrot & Ginger Soup tomorrow and see how it turns out. Last time I tried it I couldn’t really taste the ginger, so I added it to the list of lacklustre soups and filed it in my mental list of soups to try again. I need to get back on the diet, so it’s time for more soup.

So far this year has seen a few good soups and a few to try again. After carrot & Ginger I will try Celery again, as I feel it’s one that should be good for a low carb diet. Owing to the effect of ordering groceries on the internet, I now have  a stockpile of celery.

I’m hoping it promotes clear thought, as i still have a raft of submissions to make, and a lack of suitable material. Tomorrow is make or break day – three submissions to do and  alack of days to do them in. I may have to shelve some of them and start work on the April submissions. April? Already?

 

 

Day 81

Today I sorted a collection of tickets. Some of them are bus tickets and some relate to things like toll bridges and ferries, but many of them are considerably less interesting than that. Fortunately I have the day off tomorrow and will do some exercises to raise my enthusiasm levels.

Some of them have adverts on the back, and at least one of the adverts refers to rationing, so I’m guessing they go back to the 1940s in some cases.

After looking at all the pictures from previous years, I am starting to feel restless and would like to get out more. All I need to do is find a place that is crammed with interest, devoid of people, and accessible to a man with bad knees and a stick. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

I’m hoping to get an early start tomorrow and get a parking space close to phlebotomy for my overdue blood tests. After that I have a couple of errands to do and plan on spending the rest of the day getting to grips with some writing.

It’s all about practice. The more you write, the better you get. When I decided to start writing poetry again, about the time I started writing this blog, it must have taken a good two years before I started writing to an acceptable level.

This time, six months after being ill, I am struggling again. The quality is OK now, but the quantity isn’t there yet and I’m looking at four deadlines at the end of the week and only enough material for one submission.

That’s why I need a major effort tomorrow – lots of editing to do.

Planning

I’ve just been reading LA in Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50. She is very organised and has all sorts of plans in prospect for next year. This is in contrast to me – I’m vaguely aiming for 100 submissions next year, reading 50 books and that’s it. The planning centres of my brain are not very developed. She has blogging subjects planned until April. I am, as you may have noticed, writing a blog post, but I’m not sure what I’m going to write about once I finish this paragraph.

End of paragraph. Pause. I could write about procrastination, or the amount of staring blankly that I end up doing when I’m supposed to be “writing”. I just drifted off to leave some feedback on eBay and look someone up on the internet. I’m like a small downy feather floating on the breeze – never quite settling.

We are steadily moving through the backlog of food I over-ordered fro Christmas, a situation not helped by  me ordering more for New Year. We have carved all the meat off the turkey crown and frozen it. Tomorrow we will be having turkey and bacon pie and apart from a couple of lots of sandwiches, that is the turkey done.

The planned Celery and Stilton soup[ has become Cauliflower and Stilton Soup as the cauli looked like it needed using, while the celery is still crisp.

Next, I will catalogue a few medallions for an article I’m planning and then will trawl my mind for five haiku I need for a deadline (tomorrow). It’s hard going at the moment, but I will get through. Then it’s just the quality that poses a problem.

I have shelved another submission I was planning for tomorrow and then start work on two submissions for 15th January. A target of 100 isn’t going to hit itself.

The Reading Paradox

If you want to write, you have to read. That’s standard advice whenever you look at anything about how to be a better writer. At the moment, I’m struggling to read. My eyes aren’t as good as they were and I really need to get a decent reading lamp. That has limited my reading over the last year, and since I was ill at the end of summer, I seem to have lost interest and concentration.

I can still read from a screen, but it isn’t really  the same. On top of that I seem to have mislaid my tablet. I had it a few weeks ago, did some tidying, and now can’t find it. That’s the trouble with making electrical gear smaller – it’s easier to lose. I thought it might turn up under a book or something, but so far it has eluded me.

The other problem is that I have been trying to do so much writing. Or, to put it another way, the writing isn’t flowing like it used to and so it takes more time. This could, of course, be related to me not reading enough, which is where this started. It will be interesting to see if my target of reading 50 books in 2022 helps me out.

However, do I count poetry books as books? And if they do, do journals like The Haibun Journal also count. There are 56 pages of Haibun in the latest issue, and that is longer than some poetry books. I have a few days to think about it before 1st January arrives, and in that time I also have to finish at least two submissions – three if I feel really motivated.

Anyone got any views on the subject?

Reading – not as easy as it used to be

 

Cheap as Chips

I don’t follow many blogs, because I’m not a sociable sort. The ones I do follow are followed sporadically. Over the last few months I have been almost entirely absent from WP as I struggled with a bad leg and worries about mortality and, of course, Covid.

Anyway, I’m back now. One of the blogs I generally follow is Charliecountryboy. He’s just had his first book published. I have ordered it, but not yet read it. It will, I’m sure, be good. It may even be excellent. In a few weeks we will know . . .

It is nice to be associated with genius, even if I am not one myself.

He made a point in one of the comments on his post that £6.99 seems a lot for a first book. Well, a portion of chips with curry sauce and peas cost us £7 last night. Yes, £6.99 is more than you can get a lot of books for but it has taken 20 years to write and it is cheaper than chips.  It’s also cheaper than having a doctor sign a death certificate or an accountant or lawyer do anything. Why are writers so reticent about putting a monetary value on their work?

(An aside – we also heated pies in the oven – the chips were just an accompaniment, and it was easier than doing them ourselves. We are lazy, but not so broke that we have to share a bag of chips, or so morally bankrupt that we would actually consider  chips, peas and curry a meal.)

It’s the same in the shop. People come in or ring and ask for advice and valuations. We have a wealth of knowledge, just like a doctor, accountant or lawyer, but people rarely seem to think it is worth paying for.

 

Slowing Down, Taking Stock

Things are stuttering along. It is, as before, a zig-zag course towards improvement and today, after submitting my first piece for some time, I am once again wondering why I bother writing.

I’m clear on magazine articles. I don’t do many of them, but I do it for the money.

Poetry is different. I’ve been sent one or two free copies of magazines and have had two certificates, but the rewards of writing poetry are mainly spiritual.

At the moment, I’m thinking of stopping submitting so much. I can dress this up as spiritual renewal or an issue of quality over quantity, but in truth, I’m just getting a bit fed up with some of the editors I have to deal with.

Most of them are brilliant (though even the brilliant ones often turn me down – nobody is perfect) with a positive attitude, open minds and helpful comments.

Others are a bit on the academic side and a touch prescriptive. I won’t get too specific, as they all work hard to produce the magazines we rely on, and I don’t want to criticise anyone personally. However, one or two seem to get their preferences mixed up with the “rules” of writing Japanese poetry forms. Even the various societies, with their panels of experts, don’t produce rules, just guides. These also often edit what I consider to be my voice. I write as I speak, and if I want to use an expression from the midlands of the UK, I don’t see why it needs to be ironed out by an American with an academic background in English.

Meanwhile, there is the group of editors who want to be excited by my submissions. I write about my life. It’s not exciting. I’m unlikely to display the qualities required by these editors.

I have limited time at the moment, and have decided to use it more wisely. One submission has gone. The other, with its manufactured false excitement and linguistic fireworks, will stay in the draft section. Eventually, as it matures, it will be used, or dismantled for use in other work.

But it won’t be sent out this week to curry favour with an editor who wants me to be something I’m not.

My Orange Parker Pen

 

 

Overdoing it

Yes, you guessed. After weeks of sitting with my leg elevated, I finally, after a week of building up to it, managed to overdo things. After my haircut and shopping I spent the rest of the day gradually deteriorating as my knee stiffened and my leg throbbed. Maybe “Back to Normal” was a bit optimistic. Just one more day on the zig zag of recovery.

It’s at times like this that you appreciate the magic of WP. I’ve been reading about Captain Moonlight, dining out and the Dave Clark Five over the last few days. Life would be a much poorer place without this ability. I don’t use the internet in the living room these days, as |I’m trying to restore the art of conversation (which is basically me talking while Julia grunts and uses her laptop. To be fair, she does take her work seriously, and does do a lot of planning, even though the general culture of the organisation is to take the money and do as little as possible.  I won’t go on, but as I watch her fill out forms, do training and plan sessions for hours every evening, I do a lot of thinking about the unfairness of life.

I’m going to go to the doctor soon, then will go to work for the first time in just over three weeks. I have grown lazy over that time. It hasn’t been like lockdown where I had plenty of time to do things – most of the time was spent sitting down like a vegetable, unable to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time.  Four pages of a book has been a struggle.

In the last week things have improved and I’ve been writing again, though I haven’t actually typed or submitted anything. Good news is that I just had a haibun accepted, so things are still working their way through the system. I am able to write, but so far haven’t typed much. I’m going to have to start the whole, dull, copy typing process again if I’m going to get back to making regular submissions. I need to get a couple of submissions knocked into shape as the end date for two magazines is 15th of this month – five days is cutting it fine even by my standards.

Generally, despite the up and down nature of my recovery the week has been a positive one and I’m better now than I was when I started. Even yesterday was a positive, despite the knee pain – it was me that caused the pain by trying too much. My immune system just keeps chugging along and healing as fast as it can.

Road to Recovery

As part of the process of hardening myself off to get back to work I set myself a 30 minute target on the computer this morning. I have already had breakfast, been to have my dressing changed and had a drive in the country.

After waiting for the computer to start, checking emails, reading a the headlines and checking comments, I now have 17 minutes left to either read blogs or write one. As I haven’t been writing many posts recently I thought it was time to write again.

Medical news is that I am much better, the leg is definitely healing, the swab showed only normal bacteria, my weight is decreasing and everything is returning to normal. Coming downstairs this morning after another good night’s sleep I really felt wonderful. By the time I got halfway down the stairs my legs were feeling a bit heavier, and things weren’t quite so rosy, but it was still good.

There were butterflies on the shrubbery at the surgery – a Speckled Wood and a Meadow brown, which was good as I have struggled to see anything other than whites this year. The front garden is still full of bees and hoverflies, though deficient in butterflies.

I’m currently concentrating on nature haiku and am having to write about what I see from the house windows, so it was good to get out for a drive after seeing the nurse.

Talking of which – I let several deadlines slip by in the last couple of weeks, but if you aren’t feeling 100% is it worth putting out substandard work? I decided not. I did have some bits I could have sent, but the filing system is a little chaotic and there was a risk of sending things out that I’ve already sent elsewhere.

As I have recovered I have been writing more, but haven’t typed a lot, which is also something I need to take in hand. In the next few days I’m hoping to send some submissions out, which will be a sign that I’m back to normal.

Sorry it’s a bit rambling, but as it’s not unusual, the only excuse is poor focus. This is one thing  can’t blame the illness for.

Picture is a Speckled Wood from about this time last year.

My timer just went, by the time I have added tags etc I will have done about 35 minutes on the computer. It’s a start.

 

 

A Small Success and a Digression on Auction Technique

I had a note yesterday to tell that I was on a 24 day streak with WP. The days pass so quickly! It only seems like last week that I broke continuity and it’s already back to 24 days. You know what? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t improve my writing and it doesn’t improve the blog.  It’s just a way of WP trying to draw you in – a bit like your dealer congratulating you on taking drugs for 24 days in a row.

Presence arrived today. I have a haiku and a tanka in there. Unfortunately it’s a print journal so I can’t send you a link. I’m liking the tanka form. It’s two lines longer than  a haiku and less restrictive, so it’s more fun. I’ve submitted two lots and had two accepted, so I seem to have the hang of them.  However, I won’t make too many predictions of success as I’ve been here before. Early success is often followed by a run of poor form before it picks up again.

This was quite a common thing when buying and selling antiques. You buy one without knowing much about it, you learn, you sell. Next time, armed with more knowledge and confidence, you end up paying too much, or not spotting a fault, and the second one proves hard to sell. Buying in ignorance is often best. I bought several bargains simply by putting my hand up at an auction when nobody else wanted something. As I’d never risk more than a tenner on this sort of bid, it worked out very well on several occasions, though there could be problems.

I twice bought lots thinking they were one box, and they turned out to be multi-box lots. Once I bought some toy cars and six boxes of unsaleable secondhand Christmas decorations. Another time, I bought a box of old pots to get a book and found they came with four boxes of mediocre amateur paintings. At least I was able t give the paintings to a charity shop. I couldn’t even give the Christmas decorations away.

Anyway, I digress.

It is now time to write some more and see if I can repeat my early success.

IT could be a lef. But then it could be a writing prompt . . .