Some Weeks are harder than others

Blog No. 72

Writing something new
For each week is very hard
My life is boring

So. I had another one of those weeks where (even with the regular scrambling right down to the wire) I couldn’t come up with a decent topic to write about. So I wrote a Haiku instead. I’m a big fan of haikus. They are a beautiful and simple form of poetry. They perfectly reflect the ideal that you get what you put into something. I wrote the above haiku in the shower while frantically trying to come up with a topic for today. My mind was distracted (by the frantic searching and the vigorous scrubbing) and I was really more concerned with my words fitting the 5-7-5 scheme than creating anything meaningful.

While I’m already on the topic, I might as well mention that I like poetry for a number of reasons. Poetry is the attempt to put into words, feelings and concepts, that we all feel (most of us at least), but lack a way of expressing them. It’s a beautiful and tragic struggle to overcome our limitations and find the chiaroscuro in life. It is a final acceptance that the world is an amazing and terrible place and we have to take the time to fully feel the good and the bad, and use that universal struggle to try and communicate with each other. Language is inherently flawed. It is a created structure imposed on natural feeling. Even the most gifted linguists struggle to describe and express and connect. Even Shakespeare had to create words to find a way to express himself.

While I have a great appreciation for poetry, I don’t write a lot of it for a few solid reasons – mostly because I’m a classicist. I think there is an art and skill in structured poetry that you don’t get in its modern counterpart. I’m not about to do that much work though. It takes a huge vocabulary, a deep understanding of many schools of literature and philosophy, and more patience than I have ever managed to show.

I like haikus because they are so simple and easy to learn, but like most things that are worth while, they are difficult to master. And people have mastered them. There are brilliant haikus that would challenge the best poetry from Shelly or Keats. I even heard of one written by an ancient master about peeing in the snow. (A former school associate told me about that one). It’s the simple form and accessibility that makes them a great teaching tool too. They are easy to dissect and teach to students. Not everyone can write a sonnet, but almost anyone can write a haiku. Writing a haiku is easy, but writing a good haiku is hard. It’s the difference between going through the motions, and having something to say. A good haiku (like any good structured writing) is trying to use the form to create a function – or a connection. And once people are comfortable with the basic form, they can start exploring the way the structure informs the words and how much meaning and communication can be crammed into three lines of text.

A lot of people love the idea of expressing them self and a lot of people don’t like structure limiting their expression – but I feel like it’s the structure that informs the audience, and when a structure is established, breaking it (or playing with it) has more meaning that if there was no form in the first place – or maybe I just think that more work equals better.

This post makes me wonder how TV writers do it each week. But then I think about how it’s usually a whole group f them and they get summers off. Plus I think coming up with story ideas is easier than coming up with blog posts some weeks.

Here. I wrote you another haiku.

I wrote a haiku
For everyone reading this
It did not take long

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