HAIKU TO YOU TOO!

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Last October, I was invited to my first Montana Women Writers meeting in Kalispell by Betty Kuffel. The speaker would be talking about Flash Fiction, so Betty’s email suggested we “…bring a piece of flash fiction you’d like to share or Haiku, or a few pages of manuscript for peer input.” 

Haiku? The idea of writing a very short structured poem grabbed my attention. Since I had never written one before, it didn’t need to be perfect, or even good; it just needed to be a haiku: 

My First Haiku (10/31/19):

(5) Fawn strolls through snowy yard

(7) as kids dress up as animals. 

(5) Whitefish Halloween!

In haiku, less is literally more. The 5-7-5 indicates the number of syllables allowed for each line. Every word must be carefully chosen to fit the 17-syllable 3-line form. 

I quickly realized writing haikus is excellent training for all types of writing. As a book editor and screenwriting coach, I saw how haiku practice would improve my clients’ writing skills as well as mine – and it was fun!

When I researched “how to write haiku,” I discovered other syllable-dependent poetic structures like sestina, villanelle, dodoitsu and paradelle. Some of these use repeating words or rhythms. But haiku is the shortest and simplest form to learn. 

Here’s a haiku I recently wrote to remind me how to write one:

Five syllables plus

seven and five more create

a haiku for you!

Haiku began as a Japanese poetic form honoring nature and the world around us. Some people write haikus as a diary of their daily experiences, like author Jack Keroac. Others create fanciful, humorous or literary haikus. Check out “Suburban Haiku” by Peyton Price (www.suburbanhaiku.com) or “Haiku U “(100 great books in 17 syllables) by David M. Bader.

To begin writing your own haiku, use the basic 5-7-5 syllable structure. I find a starting point within the three lines, then work forward or backward from there. Once my theme and rhythm are clear, refining the words and sometimes shuffling the top and bottom lines follows. 

For practice, you can find Haiku sites and Facebook groups online:

At the Global Haiku Project (www.haiku.baronfig.com), you can add to or finish a three-author haiku.

For help going haiku, try Haiku Generator (www.poem-generator.org.uk/haiku/).

Facebook’s Haiku for a Global Pandemic group inspired my first Covid-19 haiku:

Despite Covid, how

can we all move through this day?

One breath at a time…

(8/4/20)

If you’re inspired to write your first haiku (or your hundredth), I’d love to read it. Email me at LiteraSee@gmail.com.

By Barbara Schiffman

Barbara will be presenting Haiku to You, Too! at our Zoom Montana Women Writers meeting September 24th for details how to join in the discussion contact her at the email address above.

Excerpt All Too Human

Karen's author photo apr 2019   By Karen Wills

Gentle readers,

Here’s an excerpt from my historical novel, All Too Human: A Saga of Deadly Deceptions and Dark Desires. Lucinda Cale is writing a post-Civil War diary of her journey from St. Louis to the wilds of Northwest Montana as a newlywed married to wealthy and difficult Garrett Cale. Her life will take unexpected turns as will that of Rebecca Bryan, the novice attorney who, in 1905, finds Lucinda’s diaries. Enjoy.

Garrett hired five men at Fort Benton to ride alongside us as armed protectors all the way to Eagle Mountain, along with Louis the cook and our young driver and packer. The protectors are hard men. I’ve never seen even one of them smile. None have spoken to me or Peggy. I’m accustomed to men flitting like moths to my flame so this indifferent behavior unsettles me.

I admit it. Male lack of interest is new, and it stings my vanity. Did the war burn away any ability they once had to appreciate womanly charms? Did it leave their emotions hard as metal? Cold as ashes? Peggy declares herself insulted by their unconcern for her flirtatious approaches. She protested today, “How can they protect me if they can’t see me?”

Garrett made sure when he hired them that all five fought for the Union. I’m wary of them even as they fascinate me. In the circles I frequented back home I seldom conversed with or met any lower-ranking enlisted men. Plain to see, these hard souls who ride with us withstood merciless use in horror-filled battles.

I study them when I suppose they aren’t looking, but suspect they note my artless spying. They’re ever alert. Their eyes must miss nothing.

When one of them does flick a rare glance at me, sadness rests in his blear eyes. Each carries a brace of revolvers and long knives in their boots as well as his own rifle. Although their clothes are shabby and often carry several days’ worth of dust, they keep their weapons spotless and shining from well-oiled care.

Thoughts of my brother’s death in the horrors of battle haunt me like Mr. Poe’s raven haunted him. I think my grief will never leave me. Nevermore. Was it possible that cheerful Peter would have returned volatile as Garrett, or dour as these bitter men, their faces lined before their time? Would my own brother have been a stranger to me after being seared in the heat of bloody conflicts? I pray not. I hope Peter is with God and at peace.

The This and That of a Writer’s Life by Marie F Martin

My Sis who has reached the ripe age of eighty has finally learned something she’s been searching for her whole life. Norma is a hefty strong gal who was a nurse in a major hospital for years called me and said, “Guess what? After all these years of searching for a twiggy body, I was just told by the ear doctor I have skinny ear channels. It’s the first skinny thing I’ve ever had.”

 

I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room with my cute mask on when an older gentleman came in. His eyes lit up a little above his mask and he said, “I’m smiling.” I said back, “I have lipstick on.” The other people in the waiting room cracked up. What a fun moment.

I try to take a thirty minute walk most days and I always wind myself through the the residential area near my house under shady maple trees. I usually pass a school about half way through my walk and have always sat on a bench there for a minute to rest. benchNow I just look at it wondering who has sat there, and if they were healthy, or a carrier of the Covid virus. I pause a little, but don’t sit down, just walk on by.

First harvest of green peas. Yummy in my tummy.

Thoughts for Success

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By Betty Kuffel

Believe in yourself when that voice in your head tells you your writing stinks, or you’ve spelled “the” wrong, or you just don’t have it in you to finish the novel that has been living in your brain for years. Don’t listen. Believe in yourself.

Find a positive motto that fits you. Put it over your computer in full view, read it when you have second thoughts about your skills or ability to complete a writing project. Let it stimulate positive thoughts. Mine is from Dr. Seuss:

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.

Einstein counting My writing area is a positive corner with a desk facing East. I accomplish the most in early morning, love sunrise, and am usually there to greet the lightening sky. The singing early birds brighten my days, too. Over my desk I have a couple important photos, one is of my granddaughter who makes me smile. I also have a photo of Albert Einstein counting on his fingers to remind me my lacking math skills shouldn’t stop me from accomplishing my goals. I also have a quote from him: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?”

When my desk looks like his, piled high with books and cluttered with papers, I don’t worry, I press on and put cleaning off until tomorrow … or later.

There are so many things to do instead of writing we have to avoid the distractions, ignore them. At the end of your writing day, take an hour to clean and straighten things out, but get ready for your next day of writing and get a good night’s sleep.

Feather women

Each morning I arise in early morning darkness. I dress, put on a little lipstick as if I’m heading to work and sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee. I look up and admire a woman flying over my desk with feathers in her hands and read my Dr. Seuss motto. It works for me. 

I don’t believe in writers’ block. When a story stalls, go on to another writing project as the stalled one churns in your thoughts. Or take a break and write a blog for deposit in the Montana Women Writers’ blog bank.

Remember: Life.Piano 

Happy writing.

 

 

 

 

The Write Day

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By Anne B. Howard-

It’s so easy to pour a hot cup of coffee and retreat to the writing cave for hours, during our long grey Montana winters, but when spring finally arrives, the procrastination and excuses begin. I’ve fought the same battle with myself for years. Give me an inch, and I’ll take The Wild Mile above Bigfork every time. The good news is that this year I’ve called a truce, which doesn’t involve crawling out of bed at four in the morning, as several of my writer-friends happily do, or closing my eyes, ears and soul to the reasons I moved to Montana in the first place.

It’s my way of touching base with the natural world, getting some exercise, and carving out the time to actually plan and commit myself to new goals. Instead of “time I could have spent writing,”FullSizeRender (23) I consider this meditative daily four-mile-walk as the first and most critical stage in my writing day. It’s where I brainstorm for ideas, hit upon solutions, and gain insight, confidence and enthusiasm for tackling the tasks on my to-do list, renewed and inspired by the never ending miracle of new life around me.

Some days, the ideas come so hard and fast I have to sit down and make notes, which is why I never leave home without my big screen iPhone 6-Plus, or the iPad with keyboard.  “Idea traps,” I call them. And, fortunately, if I look closely, great places—no, actually, perfect places—to sit, sip a little coffee from my thermos, and record these ideas abound along that trail, inviting and enticing me to take my time. It’s all good. No second wasted.

Once home, I water the flowers, tidy the house, and prep a quick lunch for the hubs before heading upstairs to the cave, without guilt or resentment, filled to the brim with new plans for committing to paper the stories I feel inspired to tell.

How do you balance the need to write with making sure all of life’s bases are covered?

(Originally published May 9, 2016)