Playing Games with Haiku Horizons #245

I have missed writing haiku.

Every Tuesday at my Montclair Writers Support Group, each person introduces themselves and talks about writing struggles and goals. I tweak my intro every week, but it always contains “award-winning writer,” “author,” “memoir,” blah blah blah. I always forget to say, “I write haiku.” Why?

Haiku Horizons #245: “Games”

I’m a writer, not a poet. Sure, I wrote in school when we had an assignment to write a sonnet, limerick, things like that. I’m sure haiku was a part of that. I took poetry classes in college to obtain my English Writing Minor. Those fun classes were just that, classes. I was not a poet. My friend and my sorority Big Sister, she was a self-proclaimed poet. She wrote poems; therefore, she was a poet.

Years after college, we met for an independent book forum. She found a book of haiku as told through friends sending postcards to each other. Totally intrigued me. She was into snail mail, too, so we bought the book for inspiration.  To this day, we send occasional emails or mail random postcards with a haiku. Blog challenges like the weekly Haiku Horizons prompt keep me writing poems. It still feels like a hobby, not serious writing. Still, they are so much darn fun to play with.

I write poetry; therefore, I am a poet.  Note to self: remember that.

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Find your writing identity when it’s been stolen

When I lost my website, I felt violated.

Not in some violent way, mind you, but it was personal.  “Claim your name on all social media sites” I’ve been told by The Experts Everywhere.  My Facebook site, my Twitter handle, my Instagram account, my LinkedIn profile and all else, including my website name.  I owned the domain name “dwhirsch.com” for years. When it was claimed by someone else, some random online shoe company, I lost my identity.

If I’m not “dwhirsch.com,” then who am I?

Upon reflection and deep soul searching, I admitted to myself that “dwhirsch” is a boring website name. It says nothing about me other than my name. Sure, it’s my social media presence, but it’s egotistical. Professional, maybe, easy to locate, but am I a website? No way!

There’s some TV commercial about hand lotion or something that asks the women, “If your skin had a self-care tag, what would it say?”

It says little about the company when I remember the tagline but not the company.
What words describe your skin? What words describes your self? What words describe me? 

I have such a word.  When I wrote for Michigan Scrapbooker, I noticed one word that I used in two consecutive articles. None of the other writers used that word. It’s a cool word, so I weaved it into every article I wrote. Did readers notice my Hitchcock-esque appearance? Did anyone care?

I cared.

My challenge became finding ways to use this word.  Every. Single. Article.

I found the ways. How? Stay tuned.

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How I almost lost my blog

Welcome. I almost lost this blog.

For a number of reasons, I lost my domain name “dwhirsch.com.” If you click there now, you can buy shoes online. Don’t! Boycott shoes! What’s even more insulting is that the site has nothing to do with “d” nor “w” nor “Hirsch” nor any combination of. *indignant snort*

With the loss of the domain, all of the links would disappear

There is something exhilarating, yet intimidating, about starting over.

That’s just what I did here on this blog. What I’m doing, because I have to. In addition to my name, I thought I lost all my data. That scared the heebie-jeebies out of me. After going through the seven stages of blogloss, plus another seven to torture myself, I took this as an opportunity to recreate myself, my identity. Refocus. Reestablish. Reconnect. Refresh. Recycle. Rejuvenate. Renew. Fill in your own reword here.

Fortunately, my site is hosted through namecheap, and I will never, ever, never, ever go to another webhosting service. They had my old data and restored it.

Relax.

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Reading Challenges: good or bad?

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”~Thomas Jefferson, American president

How sad it is that we as a society make even the joy of reading a massive social media event?

There are gazumerous reading challenges out there. Which one to choose? How many books can I read in 20 days, 20 hours or 20 minutes? Is it motivation or pressure? Inspiration or discouragement? When I want to read, I want to snuggle up with a book and not worry about posting reviews online and making sure I’ve updated my statuses.

My 2018 reading assignment

Maybe that’s the reason my reading has slacked off to practically nothing. Part of it, anyway.

That said, as an author, I feel that it is my civic duty to join one. Apparently I’m not a Real Writer unless I’m a Real Reader, and Real Readers participate in at least one reading challenge.

My Goodreads site is the best place for me to do this. Reading 18 books in 2018 equals 1.5 books/month. Some people can read 1.5 books in a week. Looking at some of my Goodreads friends profile, I see someone who wants to read 400 books in 2018. I devoured books as a kid, but, sadly, I’m not that person anymore.
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Rather than winging it, I chose my books for this 2018 reading challenge. There are only 16 books pictured here, giving me flexibility to choose new books, and I reserve the right to change this lineup any time without notice. Of these books, some I can’t wait to read. Some I am desperate to re-read again. Some I chose just because I own them.

If I get through some of these, any of these, that’s a success whether I share my results or not. I don’t need some website to tell me I’m a Reader. Reading should not be a goal. Reading should be a pleasure to its own end.

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Writers, focus on this for a Happy New Year

“Let’s forget the baggages of the past and make a new beginning.”~Shebaz Sharif, Pakistani politician

Everyone chooses a focus word for the new year, but not me.

Happy New Year. That’s not a bad way to start a Monday, unless you’re hung over from last night’s celebrating. This is a day for focus, for evaluation, for promising ourselves that we will change and choosing a word to represent our journey.

Yeah. Who is going to remember this in July?

I can’t boil down all my changes to one word, not even a hyphenated word to get that extra boost. I choose not to stress over something that–let’s face it–I’ll ignore by July because Real Life will intrude and push my best efforts aside.

Every year for the past several years, I considered a phrase would be better to keep in mind. It was a phrase that if I accomplished it, then everything else would be set right. That phrase, wisdom gained from a Yogi Tea bag tag, is: Keep Up, Despite that noble thought, my 1500+ emails in my inbox, the 20,000+ photos I need to print off my phone and the 50+ boxes I still have to unpack from February 2017 move prove that I cannot accomplish a focus phrase.

Maybe two words are too much for me.

If you have claimed a word and are successful long into 2018, my kudos to you. I know that it is something that does not works for me, and knowing that is a success. How little we know of ourselves. I’m comfortable that I know myself and mostly like that person.

Instead of a word, it’s time for me to take the price tag off the shirt I bought in 2016, one shirt I had the forethought to pack with me when I moved, not stuff in a box for the storage unit. Take the price tag off and wear it, both on my body and figuratively in my mind:

This is MY Year

That sentence applies to you, too. Focus on that.

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November 1: An anti-NaNoWriMo post

“I own and operate a ferocious ego.”~Bill Moyers, American journalist

I forgot.

It didn’t matter that a friend asked to buddy me. It didn’t matter that I filled out my form and updated my info. Nope, none of that. I forgot it was NaNoWriMo time.

I have and have not been editing my two short memoirs. I wish I could say I was so consumed by that progress that I didn’t have time to remember.

I’m not into it this year, and I feel like I should be. I’m a writer; therefore, I should NaNo

I live in a new state, and NaNo options are limited in my area. Is any location worth the drive? My NaNoWriMotown group in Detroit was deliciously active across a wide range of neighborhoods. Around me, there seems to be an active group that meets in several shady neighborhoods, or so I’ve the heard. There is another group 30 minutes away, but their activities appear to be completely unstructured as to be worthless.

I may have to do this on my own, unstructured and unsupported. As such, I’ve come up with an unconventional project. That project is not writing “a novel” in the expected sense, but if 50,000 words comes from it, that will be my success.

Over the 5 years I’ve done and won, I realize that NaNo is whatever you make of it.

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Thoughts on October 31

“Sometimes it’s the crazy people who turn out to be not so crazy.”~Kevin Spacey, American actor

My thoughts: Happy Halloween!

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Choose your own words in haiku and adventure

“Only I can change my life; no one can do it for me.”~Carol Burnett, American actress

Words and video games don’t mix.

The video game Zork? is a simple game: type your actions. The puzzle in this text-only game is to figure out what commands will get you to the end of your journey and win. I was frustrated by Zork after day one. This is no video game; it’s a guessing game.

“Pick up sword,” I type.
“You cannot carry any more items.”

“Turn left,” I type.
“You cannot turn left.”

Beyond those statements, there are no other instructions. Like many players, I drew a map of the labyrinth forest I wandered around. I still got lost, and without knowing how or where I made the mistake, I was at a dead end just as my invisible character.

I wanted to love the game. I truly did. By the time I picked up this game, sometime around 1986, I was a video game junkie and an avid reader. This interactive fiction game combined both loves. The focus was on narrative, like creating your own story, but the context was so broad that without some baseline, I couldn’t get interested. Instructions were nonexistent. Was I asking the right question? Can I guess the proper question to ask? It was too much work for little reward.

Haiku Horizons prompt #189: Mist

This week’s Haiku Horizons prompt reminds me of that storytelling. The Myst text adventure game from 1993 added graphics. By that time, I was over text-only adventures. I may have liked this better had it been the first game I played because I could see my choices. You have a visual grasp on your reality. There is a baseline, yet it’s a puzzle.

Choose Your Own Adventure books combines the fun of a maze and words with a puzzle and surprise. Each book guides you along pre-destined story paths, but at points in the narrative, the reader chooses what comes next. Sometimes you die. Sometimes you win. My first book was exhilarating, being in control of my story and yet not. Once I read through my chosen path, I went back and read every ending along the flowchart story.

At BEA 2016, I discovered the original books have been re-released along with new titles. Author Sylvia Hubbard created an online romance version of this form of storytelling. It’s making a comeback.

Combining words in wondrous and mysterious ways. I wonder if these books are part of the reason I became a writer.

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Success in writing: Breakdown of #ROW80 Round 4 goals, Part 1 of 3

“All great achievements require time.”~Maya Angelou, American poet 

Round 4 goals.  Writing, reading, playing and etc,

Today I’m focusing on my writing.  This is how I plan to break down and work on these goals, in no particular order:

WRITING:

1–Get back to writing haiku, at least one weekly.

This is how my Instagram account started: haiku.  My writerly friend and sorority Big Sister wrote haiku with me after one trip into New York City for an independent book fair.  Poetry may not be my formal writing genre, but I enjoy it and feel obligated to get back into it because of Instagram.

I found these notes jotted down on the back of my Round 3 Goals sheet.

I’m tweaking a Monday – Thursday writing schedule based on ROW80 Round 3.  Each day focuses on one genre or project, a schedule that provides structure and flexibility.  This revised schedule is something I’m testing out.

Since Mondays are one day I set aside to do email, I’ll see the weekly Haiku Horizons prompt posted each Sunday night.

Mondays, I will make time to write a haiku.  That poem will be published that day, Tuesday or Wednesday.  That gives me time and structure to work the haiku into a post.  Then I have the second half of the week to share it on social media.
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UPDATE: That worked this week!  Look for my haiku post on Wednesday.

2–Finish MomMemoir and DadLetters by December.

MomMemoir was so on track through August that it was scary productive. My first time-sensitive deadline passed, and my motivation slowed. My second self-imposed deadline passed, and I got sloppy. Tuesday afternoons are writing focused, and I’m allotting memoir writing to those days. It’s a good day to do that because my biweekly Memoir1 critique group meets on Wednesdays.

Pushing through procrastination, my schedule gives me structure to finish MomMemoir by October, DadLetters in November and I have December as overflow to allow for those unforeseen Life intrusions. If this works, it’s a strong format to follow with my full-length memoir in January.

3–Blog posts: finish or let go. For real this time!

**I will finish or let go of my 2017 posts.**

Yes, you read it here. With years of half-written blog ideas unedited, I am comfortable focusing on the year 2017 for the remainder of 2017. This honors my writing and cleans out my inbox, so to speak. It’s not overwhelming as it would be to think about every draft post for years back probably no longer relevant but needs to be reviewed. One calendar year, currently about 8 months to review, and I’m not going to stress myself out by going back into my past any further. Whatever I have completed by December is it. Deep breath. My weekly writing schedule has blogging scheduled Wednesdays or Thursday, thus giving me focus rather than flip-flop between this and book writing. Will I be strong enough by December 31st?

4–Freelance assignments/Full-time writing work

If I spend one day per week contacting 1-2 editors, then I’ll see what that gets me. It’s manageable, allowing time to research who to contact. The current writing schedule allows me to fit freelance assignments into my blogging and book writing, giving up nothing and moving forward with everything. Thursdays are another day I set aside to focus on housey things, email and general catching up, thus a good day for this.

The rest of my 2017 Round 4 goals are:

READING
–Blogs
–Magazines: trade publications and PennStater
–Books
–Social Media
PLAYING
–PokemonGO
–Planning
–Scrapbook/Mixed media crafting
ETC.
–Housey things
–Friends and Family

As I test out this first week, I’ll share my challenges and successes regarding my reading goals next week.

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What motivates your? Goalsetting for #ROW80 Round 4

“The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.”~Buddha, Indian leader

When do you deserve to treat yourself?

Coffee or tea and me

I use bribery to motivate myself. If I go through emails, then I can spend time on Instagram. If I write or edit for 37 minutes, then I’ve earned the right to play with planning stickers. Much of this year, I haven’t deserved the playtime that I’ve taken. Play is more fun than work, and without any steady work schedule, it’s easy to be lackadaisical. Whatever I call the reasons for not working, they’re all excuses. In acknowledging that, I’m kind to myself. Scolding me doesn’t change the past.

An online challenge that I continually succeed and fail at but keep coming back to breaks down the year into three-month chunks. It begins on the first Monday in every quarter–January, April, July and October–and ends the last Wednesday of every quarter–March, June, September and December. Easy to remember, right? Yeah, that took me two years to get into sync.

Every quarter since I began A Round of Words in 80 Days, I learn more about myself. Entering this Round 4, I realize that I need to add playtime or relax time to my schedule. After all, play…what else motivates me?

With that introduction, welcome to October 2 through December 20.


My goals for this last part of 2017 are: Reading, Writing and Playing. However, some writing and reading is too fun to be considered work. How do I justify that?

I have a great post written, but it’s so detailed that it’s overwhelming. I’m breaking it down over the next few weeks for me and for you. I want you to learn something from of my successes and struggles, something you can adapt into your life. We’re all working together at this, and I want to learn from you, too.

These are my Round 4 ROW80 Goals:

Lapras and Mr. Mime, both courtesy of my husband

WRITING

–Get back to haiku, at least one weekly.
–Finish MomMemoir and DadLetters by December.
–Blog posts–finish or let go. For real this time!
–Freelance assignments/Full-time writing work

READING

–Blogs
–Magazines: trade publications and PennStater
–Books
–Social Media

PLAYING

–PokemonGO
–Planning
–Scrapbook/Mixed media crafting

ETC.

–Housey things
–Friends and Family

Off we go into the Round 4 yonder.

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