Monday, September 15, 2014

Why I Write Haiku

I love writing haiku. 

Contrary to what many people believe, it is much more than a short poem written in three lines of 5 - 7 - 5 syllables. In fact, many English language poets have moved away from this misinterpreted rule. Contemporary poets even write one-line haiku. 

For me, however, the true essence of haiku has nothing to do with the syllable count, or how many lines it is comprised of. It is more about the intrinsically calming effect of the process. 

Writing haiku urges the poet to slow down and shift their awareness to the present moment. It fosters an appreciation for nature and of simple everyday moments. While for the reader, a well-crafted haiku can linger in the heart and mind like the soothing warmth of a cup of tea. 

It is poetry for the soul and can sketch joyous, funny, as well as melancholy moments, such as Bashõ's popular autumn dusk haiku:

on a bare branch
a crow has settled
autumn dusk

~~Matsuo Bashõ

Another wonderful thing about penning haiku is that it’s an ideal way to hone writing skills since strong word choice is essential when dealing with such a short form. There is no room to use two words if one will suffice. 

I also find deep satisfaction in being able to sit down for an hour and end up with two, or maybe three or four completed poems. Now, some haiku take time to perfect, but sometimes they come through you like lightning bolts, so fast that you feel like they came through a direct, divine connection.  

Those moments are wonderful. 

The process of creating and submitting haiku is also short compared to most other forms of writing and is an excellent way to add a little balance and variety to your writing routine. It is also a perfect way to gain experience and confidence in the submission process.  

So, why not try your hand at writing a haiku or two? There are many wonderful resources out there to get you started. And I’m sure once you do, you will be captivated by this wonderful form. 

To learn more about writing haiku, I strongly recommend the following resources:

You can also check out these online magazines for inspiration:

Or check out the #haiku hashtag on Twitter and join the fun!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Summer Catch-up and our Trip to Nova Scotia

Wow, here we are, September 4th. I think most will agree with me when I say "Where did the summer go?" It was a blur, that is for sure.

I think we also had one of the hottest months of July in a while--it was unbearably hot and humid. Did I mention I hate humidity? Not my kind of weather at all--it makes it hard to breathe. August was a mix of perfect days, rain, cool days, and more humidity. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that September is nice, although it hasn't started very well: more rain and humidity.

Last week was me and my husband's 21st anniversary, so to celebrate we went to Halifax and Lunenburg for the weekend. It was a bit on the coolish side, but still nice.

Lunenburg, in Nova Scotia, is absolutely gorgeous and so picturesque. The entire town has been declared historic and maintains that old-world feel and charm. It's also home to the Bluenose II which is currently being repaired.

The Bluenose II, launched in 1963

  This is the street that overlooks the wharf. Don't you just love the pretty colours?

 A view of the wharf from a higher vantage point. 

One of the gorgeous carriage horses you can see walking the streets.

Another view of the wharf

Okay, this next picture is kind of cool. See all those cords against the fence? Well, I'm standing at the end of the blue one, way, way, way over on the other end, right beside the fence. You can hardly see me. I'm standing directly in front of that boat which sits on the end.

Well, from where the blue cord starts to where I'm standing is how long a Blue Whale is. They can reach up to 100ft (30 meters). Isn't that just freakin' wild! LOL! Each cord shows the length of a different kind of whale. Very neat!

 Hmmm, now I think this one was taken at Mahone Bay, just a few minutes from Lunenburg. Another picturesque little fishing village. 

 Mahone Bay, N.S.

This one was, I believe, in the area of Peggy's Cove, which unfortunately we arrived at too late to go see. It would have been too dark, but we had a lovely supper at the Rhubarb Restaurant which is part of the Ocean Stone Resort. A gorgeous place! 

And that wraps up my post for today! Happy September, everyone!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rejections And A Little Word Called "Subjectivity"

Rejection. It's a fact of life for ANY writer pursuing publication. All writers deal with it––and yes I really do mean ALL writers. And yes, yes, yes, I mean even uber successful writers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. Even they have been rejected, not once or twice, but over, and over, and over. 

The list of great novels and authors that were initially rejected is a surprising one to say the least. Just take a look at this compilation to get an idea:

20 Brilliant Authors Whose Work Was Initially Rejected

Sort of helps put things in perspective, doesn’t it? 

Now, some of you may feel a little disheartened by this, but there is something very important to note about all this, and that is that all of these writers also had another thing in common: they did not give up.

Think about that for a minute. What if Stephen King or J.K. Rowling had given up after their 10th rejection on Carrie and Harry Potter?

And, as a side note here, if you are a writer, please, if there is one book you need on your shelf, it's Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.Even if you're not a fan of his work, it does not matter. His story is decisively inspiring, and I can almost guarantee you that you will admire the guy once you finish reading the book.

Plus, it's like taking a writing class from the master himself. I kid you not. Awesome, awesome read.

But okay, I digress, back to the subject at hand. I was about to say that this is the part where another very important word comes into the equation. And it is a word you must remember: subjectivity.

I want to stress that just because one editor or agent rejects your manuscript or story, it does not automatically approximate a global reflection of the work or you! Editors and agents are individuals, and like everyone, they have individual tastes. What works for one publishing house, magazine, or editor might not work for another or vice versa. 

Now, I certainly don’t compare myself to any of the big time editors out there in the publishing world, but I have managed and edited a couple of small online magazines, so I can attest to what it's like to be on the other end of the submission process.

When reviewing submissions, I've seen myself not connect to a particular poem or story, put it aside for a few days, and come back to it with a totally different perception of it--and of course, I must say that this did go both ways. I've also rejected pieces because they were simply too similar to something I already had on hand. Often, my thoughts on submissions were also quite different than those of my assistant editors.

On other days, I might have rejected a story or poem that I couldn’t even pinpoint what it was about it that didn’t work for me. The writing was strong, it was well executed, but I still didn’t connect with it. There was no spark there for me. But then weeks or months down the road, I would see the same submission published in another magazine and wonder if I had maybe reviewed it too harshly. 

See, like everyone else, editors are human, and like the rest of us they can and do occasionally have off days. They might be feeling stressed, tired, or sick. And trust me, chances are that this does have an effect on how they will perceive material.

Another experience that has really helped me recognize the subjectivity of this business is submitting haiku. I’ve had certain haiku rejected several times before having them finally accepted by an editor. And, a few times, I’ve thrown in a haiku that I didn’t feel was quite as strong as the others to round out my submission, and surprise surprise, have that one haiku be the only one accepted.

How can one not see the irony in that?

That’s why you shouldn’t let rejections get you down. It simply means your work hasn’t connected with the right person.

Now, to be clear, I'm not saying that material never gets rejected because it's not up to parr--as writers, it is imperative that we learn to perfect our craft. I strongly suggest for writers to take writing classes, to read writing books, participate in writing/critique groups, and not only to write, write, write, but read, read, read. It is so, so, so important!

But through all of this the main message to remember is that a writer must be like a determined dog with a bone and NEVER GIVE UP!

Think of all those little rejection slips as badges of courage, wear them proudly, and remember that each and every single one brings you closer to an acceptance. So please, keep writing, keep perfecting your craft, and most importantly, keep submitting!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! Week #12 Wrap-Up!

Ready, Set, Write is a weekly writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkAlison Miller, and Katy Upperman

Well, I'm please to say that I met and surpassed my goals last week. I was originally aiming for 2000 words, then changed it to 9 pomodoro sessions instead. Ended up getting 13 sessions and 2432 words! 

Also got 6 haiku instead of 5. Double yay!

I only started participating in the RSW program mid-way in, but I tallied what I had written from when it started, and I ended up with 19,600 words and 28 haiku! I only missed my goals twice, but I still wrote something every week. I think this is the longest that I've ever worked consistently on a project, so I'm very thankful to both the RSW program and my wonderful writing coach, Lauren SapalaI really could not be happier!

I look up, grit my teeth, and meet her eyes. Her face is a mix of anger and pure wonder. I’m not sure who’s more surprised, me or her. I’ve never challenged my mother before, not like this.

I am both proud of myself, and scared shitless.

Actually, this week didn't feel challenging at all. When I switched from word count to instead aiming for a certain number of pomodoro sessions, it took a lot of the stress away. Something to keep in mind. I also had a 24 hour span of time alone at home which did me a world of good. 

I love my WIP for the simple reason that I've been able to work on it consistently for the last three months. It feels like I'm being divinely guided to write it. :)

Also wanted to send a special thank you to all the RSW hosts! I look forward to participating again next year. And, I hope everyone had a wonderful summer! Can't believe it's gearing down and fall is just around the corner.