100 Haiku Days: Halfway House

It’s a strange thing, to be halfway through something that’s lasting a long time. You get whimsical thoughts of “Ah, how far things have come!” and the same time as “Crikey, there’s still such a long way left to go!”. This is my “Frodo feeling”. You know exactly what I mean.

People aren’t really raised for middles. Stories often focus on beginnings and ends – certainly, beginning something is easier than the long, slow drudge that might eventually take you to completion (apart from many fantasy epics, which are all about the middles – but that’s another blog post entirely). And the feeling of finishing, well, that’s what ads are made of. The trials of being tested often lead straight into the fanfare of finishing. Nobody really celebrates the quiet triumphs of doing something small, and doing it satisfactorily, day after day after day. (Not even fantasy epics. Well, apart from Lord of the Rings.)

I haven’t found writing all of these haiku easy. For the first few weeks I was flying, riding a sort of new project high – I loved what I was doing, I loved how quirky it was and the way it really challenged me to think about language.

As a copywriter, the challenge of writing haiku is delightful. Being able to use words in flexible and innovative ways is a crucial part of my craft. But as a person, the challenge of writing one every day, of making each one different, of not repeating myself too much, of identifying my own internal assumptions and prejudices and how they limit or lift my work – my mind started hoarding these anxieties, and eventually, they brought me down.

About two weeks ago, I realised that I was suffering from a kind of inspiration fatigue. It had taken well over a month of writing haiku, but where it happened easily and freely before, I was becoming dissatisfied, distractable, and worried about what I was writing. But I hadn’t really confronted my doubts – they just nagged at the back of my mind, gradually getting stronger.

This preceded (rather than being an effect of) some turbulence in the ol’ personal life, where it became that bit harder to sit down and write something, when I didn’t feel at all like creating anything. But I pushed through – and, in forcing myself to do it, I realised that inspiration may be a spark, but crafting something is a skill that doesn’t need a flash of lightning to kickstart it.

In a way, though it was difficult and frustrating to write a week or so’s worth of haiku, the fact that I was able to, and they aren’t too bad, and honestly you probably can’t pick out the ones that I struggled with from a line-up, I’m even more satisfied that when I’m feeling down and out, I can still make something I’m not ashamed of.

Since then, coincidentally, I’ve started receiving some lovely feedback from friends and family about my haiku. (The only person who knew I was struggling to write them was my lovely, long-suffering partner, who witnessed me tearing pages out of notebooks and scribbling them over and over, trying to get them right.) But people have said that they enjoy seeing them every day, and that they’ve liked watching me find my voice, and that they’ve really connected with things I’ve written. Honestly, every time I’ve read something like that, I’ve felt like my heart is this little shining sun in my chest and it’s just getting brighter and smilier. Thank you, all, for coming with me on this journey, and for being such a lovely audience to share my thoughts with.

I think I’ve got my mojo back now – which is just as well, because, after all, I’m only halfway through! But I find that I’m actually really excited to set out on the second half of my project and to see what I’m going to write about next.

I also have some plans to find a pretty notebook and handwrite all of my haiku into it, so that I have a record of everything I’ve done. I may have already been window-shopping for something pretty, but I’m not sure I’ve found The One yet. I’ll keep you posted, and put up pictures when I do!

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