Haiku

The most lovely of poetic styles in my opinion is the simple Haiku poem. I have loved these for a while now and see them as being the flash fiction version of poetry.

The traditional Japanese Haiku is is comprised of 17 on. “On” is translated as “sound” and is a phonetic measurement used to count in poetic forms such as Haiku. On are not the same as syllables, however, as shown in this segment from Wikipedia:

To illustrate the distinction between on and syllables, the following four words each contain the same number of on, but different numbers of syllables:

Nippon (ni-p-po-n) – 4 on, but 2 syllables
Tokyo (to-u-kyo-u) – 4 on, but 2 syllables
Osaka (o-o-sa-ka) – 4 on, but 3 syllables
Nagasaki (na-ga-sa-ki) – 4 on, also 4 syllables.

The Japanese Haiku is a measured poem in 17 on that is arranged in sets of 5, 7, 5. The first and last lines are words and ideas that are in juxtaposition to one another with a “kireji” (cutting word) between them.

For an English version syllables are used in place of on. So a Haiku written in English is arranged in words that make up 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then another set of 5 syllable words. They usually make an allusion to either the seasons or nature.

Such as this example, also from Wikipedia:

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.

Richard Wright (collected in Haiku: This Other World, Arcade Publishing, 1998)

There is a lot of discussion on how many syllables a Haiku should have and whether or not it has to be about nature or the seasons, but for me the simple beauty of the 5-7-5 rhythm, paired with an expression of the beauty of nature, is the perfect expression of this poetic style.

My own little effort at a Haiku:

In poetry shortened
Natures beauty defined
Share your expression

 

 

Poetry, What is it?

Trying to define what poetry is seems, strange to me, since I have always had the understanding that poetry is emotion. It is an expression of the feelings of the person who wrote it and an effort by the writer to control the emotions of those who would read it to convey a desired emotional reaction.

I have never been very good at poetry. Not because I can not convey a sense of feeling in writing, I have been told I can do that, but I have never been very good at understanding what poetry is, the mechanics of it.

Dictionary.com says that Poetry is….

po·et·ry

noun \ˈpō-ə-trē, -i-trē also ˈpȯ(-)i-trē\

: the writings of a poet : poems
: something that is very beautiful or graceful

Uhhmmm… yeah… not exactly helpful. At least they have a better description a little further down where they say:

writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm

Better. But, aren’t poems supposed to rhyme? Things like “I was a poet, and I didn’t know-it”? Not necessarily, and that is what has always made me step back and stare at the landscape of poetry with considerable trepidation. Three are rules, there are rules intended to be broken, and there are… seemingly randomly tossed in exceptions to everything. Poetry is complex, and strange, and beautiful, and when you find a man with the perfect vocal tones and the perfect sense of timing in delivery and he recites a poem that makes you want  to cry… then you know that poetry is impossible to just define as “The writings of a poet”. Poetry, good poetry, is alive and filled with emotions and gives life and emotion to those who hear it.

For me the moment I knew I could never describe poetry was as I was listening to a friend, who passed away some time ago, recite a poem as part of poetry contest. He won, unanimous decision by everyone present.

April is a lot of things to a lot of people

A lot of people know that April 1st is a day to be wary of anything that you might be told or see, but did you know the month has a lot more going on in it?

April is…

  • Autism Awareness Month
  • Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month
  • National Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The stone for April is the diamond and the flower is alternately the daisy or sweet pea.
Both Ares and Taurus claim the month as theirs on the zodiac.

There is a lot more going on this month, and some pretty important things to get the word out about, but I am going to pick one that is not quite so heavy. April is also National Poetry Month. So I am going to make a commitment to learn more about how to write poems every day for the month of April, and share what I learn.

I encourage other bloggers to find something about this month they feel passionate about and post every day on that subject. Help spread the word about some very important issues this month. And, for those who want something lighter as well, but can’t stand writing that much poetry, April is also Jazz Appreciation Month.

Admire the short short story

Flash fiction, or short short stories, are to be admired. The writer put a lot of work into those things. I’m taking a fast course on how to make flash fiction and it is not as easy as one might think to write a full story in 500 words or less. Yes, you can get all the information in there, but the temptation to go over that limit is very strong, particularly for someone like me that likes to string words together. I have been taking scenes with thousands of lovely words in them and condensing them down. Last night I trimmed a 1,180 word scene down to a 150 word scene. I lost a lot of detail, and I think I lost some reasoning on WHY the character did what they did, but I wont be sure until I have someone else read it over for me. For now, I am amazed at having actually trimmed so much out of the things I have been writing and looking forward to getting these ready for someone to read over so I will know if I held the core story together.

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What… pad? err.. Watt? Wattpad?

I’ve heard a bit about this writing site Wattpad for a little while now, okay, my friend told me about it just a few days ago, so I decided to take a closer look and even make myself an account. No, I have not submitted anything to it, I just wanted, for now, to see what it is.

I’ve decided it is a bit confusing.

I wanted to read a fantasy story, but it was not easy to narrow things down to the kind of fantasy I like. I finally gave up around the time I realized that I could not tell what stories were original works and which were works of fan fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind fan fiction, but I like to know if it is a fan’s salute to their favorite story or if it is an original world and story by the person who submitted it. After all, if I like it, I am going to talk about it and I prefer not to accidentally credit a fan with a story I had not known was someone else’s creation. So, yes. Fan fiction is great, but I had a hard time being sure it is only in the “fan fiction” category at Wattpad.

I had considered submitting something to the site, but I think I will wait on that until after I have more of an understanding of the place. I would like somewhere that I can post chapters of a work in progress and let the readers discuss where the story should go and how I am doing in my telling of it. I’m not sure yet if Wattpad is going to be that kind of resource for me or not.

If anyone knows of a good alternative that would work that way I would be happy to know about it.

How hard is it so help someone?

There is an old saying that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I think I heard another one, or maybe I just this there should be one, that goes along the lines of “It takes less time to tell someone how to do something than it does to think up how to make them feel bad for asking.” And, my dad’s favorite, “There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.”

I was looking around online for something and stumbled across a question at Yahoo that asks people for Plot Twist Ideas for My Fantasy Story, based on the writing I am going to assume this was either someone rather young or someone who wants very much to write stories, but has some difficulty with the writing things out part of being a writer. Either way, the only thing I can think to offer them would be mountains of encouragement. Unfortunately it was someone else that saw this request around a year ago and they were not the encouragement type. Their response was to tell the asker that “Real writers don’t ask random strangers for plot ideas. They know their plots before they begin.”

That was a rather mean thing to say in my humble opinion. The person needed some help, and they clearly have a great idea, they just do not know yet what to do to make that into a story. I hope they were not discouraged by the response they got and went on to find others that did help them out and guided them to writing their story, even if only in their own private writing journal. I have a bad feeling that, because of the negativity of the only respondent they got for a year, they likely gave up on their idea if not on writing entirely. Which is a shame.

Flash Fiction

I’m taking a break to participate in a short course on creating flash fiction. This is the art of creating a story of roughly 500 words. Which, is the average length of your typical blog post, so I think it will be a lot of fun and be something that I will have a lot of fun with in my blogging.

Dark Souls still alive

I have been hopping into Dark Souls a bit lately, yes, I know, “GASP!!! A WOMAN plays DARK SOULS?!” I’m also planning to get Dark Souls II, so there. :-p

Anyway, I am happy to report that the online play for Dark Souls is still going pretty strong. Most of the invaders that chased me off the game so long ago have stopped being so annoying. The ones I have encountered have mostly been great sports. One in particular was AWESOME. I was trying to get past the Taurus Demon in the Undead Berg, you know the guy, he stands on the city wall and charges at you when you step out of the tower door. Nasty fellow. Particularly with the two archers up behind you on the tower adding to the fun times down there.

I know that I need to get up the ladder and take them out, then do a drop attack down onto the demon, but ever time I tried I got squashed before I could get up the ladder after he’s triggered. I’d go out. Clear them, climb down, trigger Taurus Demon and would get halfway up the ladder before he’d get me. Or, I would get up there and turn and he’d have climbed up as well. Not nice.

So, After around 2 days of leveling up and trying again I had myself a soul that I used to regain my humanity and summoned a helper. This was my last shot, I needed to get the thing because I had lost all but that soul. I’m ready to set out, I have my adventuring buddy, I’m looking to see if I can spot another white marker and… cue invasion.

For those who don’t know, Dark Souls allows players to invade other games and fight the other players. Not kind, but if you can’t take being killed you should really play a game that does not start out with you being dead. Right?

Right.

So, invader has a big bow and I don’t recall if he was also the one with the lightning spear or not, but I think he had that. Anyway, he makes quick work of my companion. I am the sort that is careful in fights, so I last to see my companion go down, then try to shoot back with my own bow and go down a moment later. Usual gory splatter of Zayne (my character) on the stonework. Bloodstain left thankfully close to the bonfire, but no more humanity to revive so I can find helpers. I’m frustrated and honestly at point of tears because I had managed to clear the whole way to the Taurus Demon before summoning my fellow adventurer and now I had not only no adventuring companion to go after the Taurus Demon, but all the guys I had fought were back up and moving again. Frustration.

I sent my usual “Thanks for trying, sorry I wasn’t better in that fight” to the guy I had summoned, and “Good fight” to the invader. In my email to the invader I noted that his timing could have been better, because that was my last humanity, but good fight. I got a reply a few moments later from the invader. He reminded me I could backtrack to the rat and told me to let him know when I had a humanity. Took a bit, and he tried a few other ideas all of which I had already got the humanity from, but I got one humanity from the rat and he had me summon him to my world. Then he gave me a bunch of humanity (10 twin souls) and some other nifty things to help me out on my quest. He also pawned the Taurus Demon for me, (before I even got up the ladder YAY!) and then had to run. But he was definitely a great guy and even if he did start out as an invader picking on Zayne, he came back and really helped the guy out in spades. Zayne is now all the way up to having just taken out the Gaping Dragon and ready to head for Blight Town…. Anyone know how to give Gaping Dragon’s CPR? I’d REALLY like to give it back that dang key. I don’t want to go to Blight Town!

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of summon sign dropping at regular call points, so if you need a hand feel free to summon up ShadesDaughter if you see me. I might not be the greatest gamer, but I can hold my own in fights and am getting pretty good a knowing where things are in most of the areas I’ve been through.

The one issue I have had is around 8pm to 10pm Alaska time is when the Japanese players start getting online. They are the ones that do the most invading. Lasts around 2 hours, during which I have started just doing other things. I don’t know why, but the players I have checked in my “Players Met” list that have not started fights fairly or bowed, who have used things that suck out Humanity and the Ring of Fog and stuff… they are all listed as being from Japan. I’d always thought those would be the guys that would, like me, bow politely to show they were ready to start a match, and bow to the bloodstain, and who would use level appropriate weapons instead of stuff that is WAY over-powered for the person they invaded. They also tend to ambush more than any other invader. I don’t know why. So, I do other things during that time span, or go to where I have cleared the boss and drop summon signs of my own to help folks out, and wait for the Russians and folks from the Netherlands to get on later on, they do a lot of helping out. Americans tend, from what I have seen, to play around 5am to 8am my time, so morning to early afternoon gamers.

You can pretty much find someone on Dark Souls whenever you are wanting to play it, so if you can’t get Dark Souls II yet, or are starting to feel nostalgic, or just want to hop into the series, Dark Souls is still alive and doing well with the online community. Lots of good help signs, lots of bad advice signs (DO NOT attack merchants unless you intend to never talk to them again. Even then, WHY attack the poor guys?), lost of helpful players assisting with bosses and not as many invaders as there once was.

 

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