Oh, The Poetry!

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I’ve been focusing on one item in particular on my 2017 To-Do List – Item #2: Publish Something. While I’ve got a few feelers out there (entries in three contests), I’m looking seriously into self-publishing on the digital platform.

While decluttering some shelves (another item on my to-do list), I found and stacked all of my haiku journals on my writing desk. My intention is to comb through all of them and select fifty poems to include in a digital chapbook.

The idea is to create a chapbook that includes some of my favorite haikus from the last few years.  At this point I have well over a thousand haiku – some have been published on my blogs, while others have not. I’m hoping to create a nice mix between reader favorites (that “Like” button comes in pretty handy!) and my personal favorites.

The selection process has already yielded some interesting insights. It’s amazing how a poem seems good when its first written, but in hindsight you wonder how on earth it even ended up in your journal. If anything, the bad ones make the gems stick out that much more.

It’s also interesting to see how I’ve experimented over the last few years. I started out with strict adherence to the 5-7-5 syllable/line structure, which then shifted to the looser format of less than 14 syllables (12 is usually my target) in three lines. Later experiments with monokus (one line haikus) and senryu are excellent trackers of my anthology reading and research. Admittedly, I’m still figuring out the monoku.

Perhaps the most enlightening thing to see was how my individual voice began to emerge through all the experimentation. While it’s still a work in progress, there is something remarkable about seeing a haiku that only I could write. It took a long time to get this point!

In many ways this project is a culmination of almost three years of constant practice in writing haikus. They are my passion, so creating collection just seems the next natural step.

Stay tuned!

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c.b.w. 2017

 

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Building A Chapbook

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The 2016 November Poem A Day Challenge ended a little more than then a month ago, but for me the challenge continues. Rather than writing a new poem every single day, it’s now about building a chapbook to submit in the competition that follows the PAD challenge.

The goal is to submit a polished chapbook of 20 poems. During the challenge I wrote about 40 poems, which means I have whittle down my collection by half. Yikes!

I was able to eliminate 15 right off the bat. I didn’t feel they were strong enough and no amount of editing was going to save them. Sometimes a poem is just bad and there’s nothing to do but let it go!

That left me with 25 haikus to revise, edit, and organize. Haikus are often viewed as a simplistic form that doesn’t require a lot of revision, but nothing could be further from the truth! With only three lines and minimal syllable count, every word has to be perfectly chosen and placed.

The revision process really gets to the core of the strengths and weaknesses of the remaining poems. Some really start to stand out, while others begin to fade away. Five more poems were scrapped for simply being too boring or having no clear connection to others in the group.

Once I had my 20 poems, it was time to decide what order the poems will appear in the chapbook. This is more than a little overwhelming, especially since the prompts for the challenge were pretty random.

However, I feel like I have a little bit of a crutch in this department. Haiku are often organized by season, so I decided to follow that tradition. Some of my poems were obvious representations of a season, while others were more abstract. For example, a poem that mentions flowers would fall into spring or summer (depending on the flower), while a senryu that emphasizes a moment of melancholy can be filed under winter.

This strategy worked out pretty well! I ended up with fairly even groupings of poems and it just became a matter of ordering 4 to 6 poems in each group to create flow within and between each season.

The deadline for submission approaches and I’m excited to send in my entry! Good luck to every poet who participates in the competition!

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c.b.w. 2017

 

November Challenges: Week #4

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The close of November brought the end of both NaNoWriMo and the Poem A Day Challenge (via Poetic Asides on Writer’s Digest). By some miracle, I managed to complete my goals for both challenges despite a few days of writer’s block and the Thanksgiving holiday.

NaNoWriMo

Early Bird word count: 1,611

Week 1 word count: 3,262

Week 2 word count: 4,567

Week 3 word count: 3,535

Week 4 word count: 2,416

Total: 15,391

I hit my goal of 15,000 words (plus a little more). It doesn’t get any better than that! All I can say is I’m grateful for planning a little bit ahead when I clocked in three early bird writing days. I knew Thanksgiving weekend was going to be crazy, so I worked in a few extra days beforehand to alleviate the stress of cramming in writing time while also trying to spend time with family. Thank goodness the only pantsing going on was with the actual writing, rather than with scheduling!

The Month’s Trends:

I pantsed it the entire time!

I fully expect to be referencing my notebook during the next phase of my novel, but the first seven chapters were completed pantsed. And I loved every second of it! I never would have guessed it, but pantsing is quite liberating.

I’ve always planned everything I write, but this time my characters had other things in mind. I fully intend on giving them more control as the process continues. Why bother fighting them? They know their story best, right?

Music Matters

I’ve always used carefully constructed playlists to help fuel my muse’s imagination. Even with pantsing, this is still true. Imagine Dragons, Junip, and Muse all played a key role in giving my main characters a deeper sense of emotion, while also unearthing some pretty interesting secrets.

I have a lucky charm.

My typewriter key pendant has become a talisman of inspiration. I don’t know if I’m just imagining things, but my writing time always seemed to go a little smoother when I wore it. I’ll be wearing it until The Muse’s sequel is finished.

There’s always time to write.

Is my life crazy busy? Yes. But this month has reminded me that there is always time to write. I just have to want it bad enough. Small sacrifices had to be made, but it was worth it overall to get the chance to tell the story that’s been inside my head for so long.

November Poem A Day Challenge

A month of poeming has come to an end and I’m proud to say I wrote a poem for each day in November. I had to play catch-up a couple of times, but I still completed the challenge on time.

The next step is choosing 20 poems to create a chapbook submission. I’ve entered this competition several times before without success, but I’ll jump in again anyway. It’s free to enter and I love the challenge of piecing together a collection. I learn something every year about what works and what doesn’t when selecting poems for a chapbook.

The last batch of poems I wrote for the PAD challenge will be posted on my haiku blog, Haiku Tree, throughout this week. Check it out!

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How did you fare on your goals for November?

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c.b.w. 2016

 

A Plan For NaNoWriMo

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Over the last few days, I’ve asked myself if it’s actually a good idea to do NaNoWriMo. My schedule is already ridiculously full and my stress level is already off the charts. Do I really need to add writing 500 words a day to my insane list of things to do?

In a word: YES. Writing is actually a stress reliever for me. Just like knitting helps me sleep (the repetition helps to slow down the thought train in my brain), writing lets me escape everything giving me a headache.

The only thing I’m worried about is having a enough time to complete 500 words. From past experience, I know I can punch out 500 words in an hour if I’m really focused. During the work week finding that kind focus will be challenging.

To deal with the work week challenge, I’m giving myself the freedom to have variant word count days as long as I hit a weekly goal of 3,500 words (which works out to 500 words/day). Some days I’ll be happy to get 200 words, while on others I might get up to 1,000. I know this isn’t how NaNoWriMo traditionally works, but I know what will work best for me!

I have several days off in November due to Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. I’ll be using those days off to their full advantage, along with weekends. Hopefully, I’ll be able to work ahead whenever the day job isn’t taking up 12 hours of my day.

We’ll see how it goes. While I’m motivated to dig into my novel, I’m also realistic. If I make my goals, great. If not, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. This is supposed to be a fun stress reliever, not a source of stroke inducing deadlines!

In any case, I hope my favorite coffee shop ordered extra mocha so they can keep me happily caffeinated while I write!

Stay tuned for updates on progress!

What’s your plan for NaNoWriMo?

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c.b.w. 2016

The November Plan

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After some careful thought and consideration, I think I’ve come up with a plan for the month of November. Both novelists and poets look forward to November as a month that both inspires and challenges thanks to NaNoWriMo and the Poem A Day Challenge on Poetic Asides (via Writer’s Digest). I’ve participated in both in various forms, but as I posted last week, I found myself in a quandary about what to do this year, (see This Writer’s November Debate).

To satisfy both the call of the novel and my muse’s obsession with haiku, I’m going to attempt an interesting compromise of both November challenges.

I’ve decided to attempt a modified run at NaNoWriMo. I like the idea of having a kick in the pants to start writing another novel.

The sequel for The Muse has been haunting me for a while. My characters are getting very chatty and the story is reasonably sketched out. I started writing The Muse with less than what I have for Lineage (see, I even have a title), so I feel pretty confident moving forward.

The goal is to write 500 words a day. Despite a heavy workload at the day job, I think this is plausible given my average writing speed. If all goes well I’ll have 15,000 words by the end of November.

As for the PAD Challenge, I’m going to approach this in a different way. In years past, I diligently posted a poem a day in the Poetic Asides comment section. My current haiku writing schedule will not allow for this, so I’m going to modify the poem-a-day framework to match what I’m already doing.

Saturday is haiku writing day – I punch out anywhere from 7-10 haikus every week. All I need to do is reference the PAD challenge prompts each Saturday and write haikus to match those prompts.

The haikus I write will not be posted here, but instead will be posted on what until now has been my secret haiku blog. For the last year and a half, I’ve posted a haiku every single day on Haiku Tree. This is the home for the haikus I write on Saturdays. I figure the PAD Challenge will simply direct haikus I’m already going to write rather than add another task to my schedule.

I hope my muse is ready to write, write, and write some more.

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c.b.w. 2016