It’s been a while since I’ve posted, even though I have been writing lately. No, I’m not turning into one of those #amwriting people, I’m just saying.
I went on a residential writing course recently which instantly reinvigorated my writing habit, that is, forcing myself to write everyday, regardless of whether I consider it good or not. The process is more important than the product at this stage, and this outlook has worked for me. I am now actually enjoying my writing again. At some stage there I was focusing far too much on the end product and how it might be perceived; a little bit like looking through the wrong end of the telescope.
The course also brought back my love for poetry, something I’ve shamefully abandoned since university. One poet we looked at was William Stafford, a prolific writer who started late in life, first publishing at 46, and going on to write an incredible 22,000 poems in his lifetime. So, there’s still hope for us all.
His quotidien would see him wake up at 4am every day and write until sunrise. He was once asked how he managed to continue writing at such a rate at those times when it inevitably became difficult to write, to which he said:
“I lower my standards.”
In that vein I’m introducing to my own process a project to write a haiku every day for a year. I decided on the form of the haiku because I want to strip away any sense of pretension from my writing. In a haiku, it is important to be concise and pure, and any attempt to sound clever simply does not ring true in the combination of the whole, which instead should resonate with a particular insight. This insight should become an experience, rather than describing an experience, and (in the traditional sense at least) it should harmoniously combine the elements of a season, a place, and a subject.
I take up the Haiku 365 project in the knowledge that many of them won’t be of a high quality, but in the end, after a year, I’m aiming to have one haiku that I’m proud of for each season. That’s a strike rate of 4 in 365, which is going to make for a pretty small collection but as the haiku supremo, Basho says:
“He who creates 3 to 5 haiku poems in a lifetime is a poet; he who creates 10 is a master.”
Thinking from this perspective, I quickly realise: the only way to fail is not to write.