Monday, May 19, 2014

Don't Live on the Sidelines


For twenty years one of my writing disciplines has been to write one haiku poem per day. I write them whether I feel like it or not, mostly in the mornings while looking out my home office window. The view outside is always and never the same, reflecting the inward view of my own psyche.

Twenty years ago I did not know this haiku practice would change my life, but it did. At the time I worked for the marketing department of a large technology company, and tried to pacify my lifelong dream of being a “real” writer by writing “on the side.” One evening while on a business trip and staying in a nondescript hotel, I was reading a book about writing I had brought from home. I have since forgotten the author and title of this book; the only thing I remember was that the author suggested would-be writers might try to write just one thing per day, no matter how small. Even a three-line haiku would be enough, the author said, to prove you were a real writer, a real artist.

“I can do that,” I thought. Even though I was a single mom with a demanding job, surely I could manage seventeen measly syllables each day. So I determined I would try. I wanted to fulfill the dream I’d had since childhood. I wanted to lay claim to that powerful statement, I am an artist.

It worked – boy did it work. Five years after I began writing my one haiku a day I left my corporate job and became a full-time freelance writer, writing not only haiku, but books of fiction and non-fiction, both for me and for others as a ghostwriter. Despite my – and my family and friends’ – fears of poverty, I survived and it is what I am still doing today. And in honor of the discipline that has enriched my life, I devote every Friday on my blog to “Haiku Friday” in which I share one of my haiku and invite others to share theirs.

In the seventeen syllables of one of my daily haiku:

come when you are called
on the sidelines of your life
nothing will happen

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit Primary-Sources.com.

13 comments :

  1. Good inspirational piece, Kim. I make it a rule to write something every day. Sometimes it's a story, sometimes a poem, sometimes a blog post. Like all art and craft, writing needs constant practice if it's to be any good.

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    1. You are right, Stuart. The difference between professional writers and wannabes is not really talent -- it's that professionals practice practice practice.

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  2. I had no idea the writing a haiku a day would be so inspirational. Like Stuart, I write every day. Sometime it's haiku. More often it's fiction. Either way, the muscles of the brain get a daily workout. Thanks for the reminder, Kim, that we either use it or lose it. Time to return to writing...

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  3. Wow, that's great - a haiku a day. I usually write each day, too. But, you've inspired me to write a 'complete something' everyday, instead of just adding on to, editing, etc.

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    1. I agree, completing something gives me that "I can do it!" feeling. I need to be reminded of this often, so I don't forget.

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  4. You can't find the flow if you don't turn on the faucet. :)

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    1. Diana, you wrote 2/3 of a haiku here -- you can't find the flow (5 syllables)/ if you don't turn the faucet (7 syllables) -- we need another 5 syllable line ... (After 20 years I am a compulsive syllable counter and often think in haiku)

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  5. Having suffered under the corporate lash, I can identify with your journey, Kim ... huzzah for pursuing your dream. Now, tell me how you beat that poverty thing.

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    1. Christopher, ghostwriting is how I beat the poverty thing in the end. There are a lot of people who don't like to write, can't write, or have no time to write, but have great stories and ideas. The world needs ghostwriters! (shameless promotion: I offer an online class called "Learn to Ghost" for writers.)

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  6. Wonderful inspiration, Kim. Good for you. It is so vital to write every day, even if it is just one short piece, as your story so beautifully illustrates.

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    1. Thank you, Maryann. And thank you too, for your wonderful posts here on the BRP.

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  7. Congratulations, Kim! I'm impressed!

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  8. Love the haiku at the end — especially the last 2 lines. :-)

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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