Getting back in the habit of daily writing has been a rather daunting challenge for me. In truth, I’ve been agonizing and overanalyzing my plan of attack around it for months. But with a blog conference in California looming on the horizon, and a promise to myself to be willing to explore and experiment more in my personal writing this year, I’ve finally managed to get a handle on my self-doubt, wrestling it quite forcefully into what I hope will prove an airtight compartment someplace deep in the back of my mind.
Instead of pouring over stacks of ideas, lists of vague writing prompts or strict content schedules, I’m embracing ideas as they come to me, no matter how random or haphazard they at first appear. It’s an approach that in some ways mirrors the improv idea of “Yes, and…” Because I’ve found that I’m my own biggest obstacle in my writing (huge surprise), instead of immediately shutting down an idea that upon first blush seems ridiculous, or beleaguering it to death with questions about what makes it valid to explore in the first place, I’m instead accepting the idea as valid (saying “yes”) and then finding ways to bring the idea to life.
Today, that meant that when I was driving into work and reflecting on the fact that it’s been a long time since I’ve written poetry, instead of discarding that thought as random introspection, I explored it further. I really love the lyrical nature of poetry, especially haikus, so I decided to spend the rest of my ride on the way into work thinking up and writing a haiku.
In determining the subject matter for the haiku, I pulled inspiration from a series that I’m rereading by Mercedes Lackey (Owlflight, Owlsight, Owlknight) that as you may have guessed has something to do with owls. While I could devote at least another post per book summarizing the merits of each volume (and very well may at a later date), I’ll summarize instead. I am in love with the way Mercedes Lackey describes the relationships that the humans in her story have with their respective bondbirds (familiars). She’s a master at bringing non-human characters to life in a way that really resonates. So with subject matter and format decided, away I went, crafting and discarding lines, counting syllables and examining sentence structure until I was happy with the results.
(Now, if I’m being totally honest – it didn’t take the entire trip into work to craft a haiku; however, it did take that long to settle on one I was truly happy with as I’m an incessant editor.)
To make sure I didn’t forget the final haiku, I recorded it aloud using the Voice Memos app on my phone, and then added it as an entry in my Day One app on the computer as soon as I made it into the office. The result? I started my day with an exercise that made me stretch both my creative and writing muscles, and ended up feeling primed and ready to embrace the rest of my creative (re: work-related) challenges for the day. The finished haiku is as follows:
Owl, the great hunter,
glides on silent wings of death –
strikes swift; blood on snow.
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