Saturday, 3 December 2011

A Haiku a day

Went on a run earlier, through the chilly moors / nature reserve near my house. We’ve had an exceptionally dry Autumn, normally by this time of year I’d need my wellies it’s that muddy and running would be near impossible without sinking ankle deep in peaty mud. But other than a few particularly boggy areas (and being the excellent pathfinder that I am, I can avoid them, like some sort of native American tracker) it was a relatively dry run.

It’s only a 5.5k run, over both Flitton and Flitwick moors. I always find running is a good time to think and being unfit means a longer run and therefore longer to think. Not only do I work the body harder, but also the mind.

I thought about the plot to my novel, I’ve reached an impasse, I’ve got an ending (a fine tip, thankyou Mr Pink – know your ending, this sounds simple, but it’s so true, I’ve just meandered into blah blah bollocks land previously), it’s just I’m just stuck at a particularly shitty bit somewhere in the middle, which by even my own standards of suspending disbelief, seems beyond ridiculous.

But it’s ok, momentum and inspiration will come back. I’m not getting bogged down about it, so I play out little heroic fantasy scenarios in my head instead, whilst running. Nothing too heroic mind, things like walking around in a Barbour jacket as a gentleman farmer and delivering a foal for one of my serfs workhorses and being toasted by the peasantry in the moonshine barn (the moonshine barn doesn’t exist by the way). Or saving a baby Owl whose parents were savaged by fell beasts and bringing it up to be my familiar, things like that.

I’ve stopped listening to music while running now. The psychological effect of music is that it makes me run faster. It shows that athleticism is not just the body, but the mind. And yes, I use the term “athleticism” reservedly. But Debbie always said to me I was missing out, it’s a form of sensory deprivation and by depriving myself of one of my senses, I might as well just be on a running machine. So now, I try to absorb as much as possible, not just listening, but watching, smelling, touching and when I swallow a moth, tasting. The sixth sense, this so called ESP, I haven’t found to be possible to experience yet. Sometimes I attempt to bore into the darkest thoughts and desires of the people I cross paths with solely using the power of my untapped mind, but I just look like a staring freakface, so I don’t do it anymore.

Anyway… The sound of my own breathing (normally huge rasping gasps to be fair) and the stomp of feet into the soft muddy earth. It’s somehow satisfying. As well as that I listen out for nature, try to identify bird song, look out for nature as well. Today for instance I saw a Muntjac deer, with their weird little vampire tusks, normally shy creatures, but this one just watched me suspiciously through the Ash trees.

But before that, I was running along the River Flit and there was a little group of Greenfinches calling out to each other, or probably warning each other about the lumbering oaf running alongside the river towards them, and every time I got near them, they’d all fly off and settle in the next tree with a gentle hubbub of pissed off calling, only for me to get near them again and then into the next tree… and so on. You get it. I know you do. The point was it was one of those little poignant moments that might otherwise be instantly forgotten. So I made up a little Haiku whilst I was running and repeated it to myself again and again, so I wouldn’t forget it.

Greenfinches disturbed

Little flock over the Flit

Disgruntled chirping

And then I thought… hey, why don’t I write a Haiku, for every day of the year, starting January 1st. It wont all be about nature, some will be funny (I hope), silly, serious.. whatever. It will be significant to the day it was written however. It could be accompanied by a photo or picture, or some words to give it context as to what it meant to me. Or I could just leave the words to speak for themselves. The beauty of the Haiku is you are only restricted by the syllable structure and that is no hardship. There is a power in the economy of words. It distils the starkness and the beauty of it and it leaves ghostly hints at the authors inner meaning.

So that’s my plan. I’ll set up a new blog for my Haikus and it will rock and roll come January.

1 comment:

yasminselenabutt said...

A Haiku a day keeps the doctor away! Er.
Maybe not!! My friend Carolyn is big on Haikus ; ) That sounds like a cool project for 2012. I can't deal with the whole syllable thing. I've not written one since I was 16 I don't think? And that was only because my hand was forced at English A-level I suspect.. but your paean to Greenfinches is sweetly erudite.

The 'know the ending thing' completely agree. That made all the difference for me with Gunshot Glitter. I was so excited about the ending I wrote the last 30 pages about five years ago. I have of course tweaked it but the essence didn't really change. I've never done that with a novel before and I honestly believe it's the reason why I got to the end of this one and not any of the others that floundered in their infancy. The middle bit will play out like a movie in your head and lead the way, just trust it. And keep going, Mel.. x x

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