Friday, 2 May 2014

..a bug in a rug...

Every dawn draws a new poem

every day sings a new tune

sometimes as deep as an ocean

at others as high as..... whut..? it’s over? Oh okay, this is the A-Z survivor post I am doing, whew!  no more rhymes marching in their little stiff at last, free at last...That’s actually so not true. Weirdly.

I am pleased of course that I made it through, no question about that. And I am glad also that I can write what I pretty well feel like now, theme and forms and rhymes can be luxuriously given the boot. But that does not feel very important right now. What is rippling under the surface of my brain unobtrusively is something completely different: that I might have learnt rather more than I thought I would, in directions other than I had expected and/or thought possible. Story of my life, boss!

First things first

But first off a shout out to Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out, the creator of the A–Z Challenge, and to the co-hosts and their teams who visited, commented and shared the entries and kept the morale high. Special thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh, M.J.Joachim, Madeline Mora-Summonte and last but not the least co-host Damayanti in that context.

A vote of thanks and appreciation to all my fellow bloggers and friends who supported me through out the challenge.  The top commenter awards have to go to Sabeeha Parack of Midnight Scribbles and Yolanda Renee of Murderous Musings and Defending the Pen, and Denise Covey. All these ladies have given unstintingly of their time and opinions here on this blog throughout the month, Yolanda in spite of her own participation in the challenge, and a far more serious health challenge, as well as editing schedules of her novel, kudos. Thank you all!  

The learning that's happened 

This is the stuff that happened here in April:

  • First off, I learnt whole new fixed forms – Welsh and Chinese and Burmese and Malay, cool verse forms I had not even heard of before and had no inkling about how to write them.   But in spite of all my hesitation and anxiety, and starting off with the most difficult letters undone, I managed something for each new form, and well in time to schedule each post.

  • That brings me to a minor learning which is most inconveniently also a major one, and will have many bloggers ready to be instantly outraged, so I will whisper it: I don’t really like scheduling weeks in advance. This is a gobsmacking self-discovery! Scheduling should have felt like a gift for a control-freak old-womanish person like me, but it didn’t! Given half a chance, I would prefer to make do with unscheduled, thank you very much. I must be younger at heart than I thought, ha!

  • I learnt some proper prosodic terms too.  Like the fact that what a lay person calls a “line” in a poem, is actually called a “verse”.  And finally it fell into place, what “give me chapter and verse”, actually meant. A totally a-ha moment.  Many other moments like that.  Anaphora (not a particularly fancy-shaped Greek urn, you know, not a different take on the amphora), paralepsis (not some kind of disease, at least not medical) and so on.

  • Did you know that Excel is a natural ally of poetry bloggers attempting form, as well as a nifty way of keeping track of various other blog-related stuff? I refreshed that nugget of knowledge big time all through April, especially for the writing part. Rhyme words, syllable counts, internal rhymes, penta-, hexa-, dodeca*&%$#- metres and feet - all was a total breeze with Excel. 

  • I came across some seriously awesome blogs.  I did not begin with quantified goals and all, maybe I should have!  I just started off with the vague notion that I’d like to read more than 5 blogs a day.   I managed to be on target with that, so I am happy.  I also had new people, visitors, commenters, some of them subsequently even signed on as followers of dis here blogshphot, which are all lovely (I particularly dislike the term "follower"! but can't find a non-cutesy alternative, I have to admit. Any suggestions welcome). Number-wise, value-for-effort, of course none of it makes any sense at all, I and this blog should just fold up like telescopes as per Alice and get off and go home :)

  • I found a few blogs that were obviously not participating even during my last week of visiting, that was a little off-putting.  Some participating blogs had the word verification on. It would have saved other bloggers time if there had been some way to point this out to the co-hosts’ teams. Or maybe there was, and I didn’t know?  If I felt motivated enough to comment, I did try in spite of the verification, but some times I did not. Finding non-writing/non-book related blogs was a mini-challenge within a challenge too!

  • I found that I was okay with not commenting sometimes, even where the verification was off. I visited more blogs than I commented on. There are subjects I know nothing about, such as art or all the techie stuff, and I am simply not qualified to comment on them. It felt wrong and rude to just write “great post” or “informative” or whatever, I am just not comfortable with that. On the whole, the work bloggers put into their posts is impressive, mind-bogglingly detailed, and it feels kind of shabby and dismissive to put in a superficial comment only so everyone can see that I have been there.

  • Likewise, I am fine with readers here if they read and then go away without commenting, many people did/do exactly that.  Not everybody likes poetry, or has something to say about it even if they do. That’s perfectly alright, and neither side should feel inadequate or hassled about it. 

  • Talking about the techie stuff, I learnt a whole bunch of blogging nitty-gritties, real handy! And I discovered a number of nifty sites for useful poetry writing tips as well.

  • If I had to do it over again, then I would start off with the real difficult letters X Q and Z and maybe pre-schedule the first two/three posts, and leave the others to fall into place later. Things do fall into place most of the time, that’s a long-held belief just reconfirmed through this challenge!  Would I do it over again? I'll see....lots of time...always wrong to rush to decisions, small or big or blog-related, based on first reactions :)

  • Most of April had a whole lot going on as far as the offline life went, unexpected news and unplanned stuff intervened; and I managed to compartmentalise that and be calm and carry on. Remaining calm, as I have said before, is NOT my speciality.  So no drumrolls or anything, but good to find that I can multi-task better than I thought, I can switch the insanity off, of whatever is going mad at that moment and just focus on the writing, or vice versa if necessary.  A control freak has got to love that bit of self-awareness!

  • There are other lessons that have been vaguely reconfirmed too, about relationships and friendships, offline and online, the core group that sees you through every challenge and crisis and all that, but oofff! that's all too deep and heavy to get into right now, maybe I shall pull some verses together to make sense of those bits later. 

That's it, my first A-Z is done, 26 days, 26 forms and 26 poems all in fair working order, barring a few broken rules and feet here and there. I do think I have managed to polish my writing up one notch. Not to be overly smug as a bug in a rug or anything, but distinctly chuffed.  With due apologies to PGW for distorting his line, of course.


  1. Haha you should be smug like a bug :p.
    you know this month really opened my eyes too. I've stumbled across brilliant bloggers and there have been times when I couldn't wait to read the next day's post..I read more than I comment too btw :p The last three days have been hectic to say the least and I miss my blog readings :) I just quickly snopped through your blog :p in breaks between. Thank you for an amazing month, seriously learnt so much about forms.

    1. Thanks for being here, Sabeeha. Take care. I am going to be taking it easy for a bit now :)

  2. Congratulations Nilanjana on being the survivor.. A big shout out for the effort.. And some common learning for me too.. Even I read much more than commented upon.. But, yes it did get a little hectic in the end and I didnt really find time to read others. I too had a tough time writing for X and Z.. But overall, what an experience, isnt it??

  3. Yup, all in all smug making :) congrats to you too!