When a new year starts, it’s a good time to reassess. I started writing haiku/senryu pretty regularly starting July 10, 2017 which is 1.5 year ago. I think I spun off Cactus Haiku into it’s own blog in September of that year? about then anyways.
I’ve learned a lot in that time. Probably the same things all of you have learned in your first year of literary blogging.
What have I learned from my own writing?
A. I can create a habit of daily writing and keep to it. I think at some point everyone should do this. It really clears away the anxieties of not being able to write consistently. I think every writer needs to know they can commit to writing daily if they wanted to. It also taught me to separate writing from rewriting (ie making it more perfect) so I didn’t feel the writing had to be perfect right away, if ever. I wrote and then moved onto the next poem.
B. I need to increase and improve my vocabulary. I have a huge reading vocabulary because I read a lot but only a fraction of it shows up in my writing. This needs to change.
C. I can write a poem about anything. This one surprised me but it’s good to know.
D. I can write a poem everyday about the same thing and every poem will be different. This one taught me that any thing, anything at all, is actually a metaphor for life so it really doesn’t matter if you write about coffee or spring or whatever. No matter what you are writing about, you are writing about life. Poetry is very zen that way.
What else has happened?
I started reading other people’s blogs. Before I started blogging, I rarely read a blog. Now reading blogs has replaced most of my magazine reading. I was surprised and fascinated to see how much poetry and short fiction was out there and the rich variety. I’ve also enjoyed the photos and jokes people have shared. People have made recipes a window into their life. Movie reviews have surprised a snort of laughter from me. I’ve seen vignettes into town/country lives around the world. Following you all has been the number one unexpected pleasure of 2018.
I’ve gotten back into photography in a big way. Taking care of my mom, I had given up photography for pretty close to a decade. When I came back to photography with blogging, I used a digital slr for the first time (mostly because I left the battery in my manual slr so killed the poor thing). I love, love, love not having to wait for film to develop. Not worrying about the cost of film has totally freed me up to take a pic any time and any place. I have gotten back into the habit of carrying a camera with me a lot of the times.
Independent book reviews: One of the things is that some of the people who follow me and who I follow have written and published books. Some people have self-published and others are thinking about it. Becoming friends and colleagues, some people have sent me books and others I’ve grabbed when they are doing a special free giveaway.
I get that many people think selfpublishing is the same as a vanity press but I think it is actually becoming an independent publishers — meaning you have to wear all the hats: writing the book, laying out the book, getting a cover, publishing the book, getting the book publicized and finally selling the book. I’ve become aware that many independent publishers have problems getting their books reviewed. This is not a new problem actually. This problem has been around for several hundred years probably ever since the first printing press was invented or even before.
So I think one change is to write what I think/feel about these independent books — at least one book a month (will be more initially as I’ve a few I need to read that I got in December). We’ll see how it goes as I don’t really think of myself as a reviewer … but then I didn’t think of myself as a poet a year and a half ago and now I do.
Introducing other blogs : Another thing I want to start doing is to start introducing other people’s blogs. Maybe one a week. I am probably going to randomize it somehow because honestly I have a huge list
Making my first book : I lost weight by blogging weekly on it on CactusCatz.com . I am thinking of doing that with making my first virtual book because I want to make my own book but keep procrastinating. One problem is unlike most people’s, mine will probably be very photo heavy and I want it to be a landscape book, not a portrait book. So I think some easier automatic layout programs will be out. I am thinking of doing a post weekly to get me off my procrastinating butt. I may start with scanning an antique magazine I have to create a book. I also have a short antique handbound book. One of those can help me with learning the skill of making sure the pages show up in the right order and how good the images show. That’ll give me time to collect the 50 or so poems and pics for my book that I’ll have to lay out.
Haibun : I want to go on a journey this year and like Basho write a haibun at each place. So I’m going to write a weekly haibun to get in practice. A haibun is a paragraph of writing followed by a haiku. From Wikipedia, “Bashō’s shorter haibun include compositions devoted to travel and others focusing on character sketches, landscape scenes, anecdotal vignettes and occasional writings written to honor a specific patron or event. ….A haibun may record a scene, or a special moment, in a highly descriptive and objective manner or may occupy a wholly fictional or dream-like space. The accompanying haiku may have a direct or subtle relationship with the prose and encompass or hint at the gist of what is recorded in the prose sections. ” To give you an idea of a haibun, this bit is from Basho’s Journey to the Interior:
We pay homage at Yakushidō Temple as well as at the Tenjin shrine (kami/god of academics, scholarship and learning), and the day turns to dusk. He in addition sends with us paintings depicting scenes of Matsushima and Shiogama. In this manner he sends us on our way with the gift of two pairs of straw waraji (sandals) as well, their laces dyed in a deep blue. It is with this gesture that he, a zealot of aesthetic refinement, makes evident his true character.
ashi ni musuban
waraji no wo
|irises of blue
I shall tie around my feet –
these sandals’ laces
I think that’s enough for now. I’ll still be writing poetry but hopefully more fiction as well.
Note: I published this photo previously on instagram. 11/25 with the question “what is your favorite coffee?” and that was it for the text.
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