A Haiku A Day
(01.02.2015 – 31.01.2016)
I am sceptical of 365 day projects. It requires dedication on a daily basis, forced writing (or your choice of activity) when you are uninspired and you only have that many excuses to avoid it.
That is exactly why I started a 365 day project. I wanted to be able to create something on my worst days and not only when I felt like it. I wanted to commit to one particular activity for a long period of time and not lose interest in it (there were days this happened). Moreover, I just wanted to write everyday.
I usually ramble a lot when I am writing and I wanted to restrict myself to something short and I picked haikus as the subject of my 365 day project. In my first year of college, one of my favourite professors had asked us to write a haiku for a class. I tried, I struck off lines, struggled with the syllable count and churned out something ridiculous. (Thankfully I was never asked to read it out loud or submit it to her.) Therefore, haikus. I was trying something I had sucked at on the first attempt and something that would make me restrict my words as well as not require a lot of time on a daily basis.
Haikus are beautiful. A haiku is an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven and five syllables respectively usually having a seasonal reference. (Definition according to Merriam Webster Dictionary)
I began with a lot of enthusiasm and no excuses in my first month of haiku writing. It was very satisfying. I was writing something. I was making myself write something even on gloomy days. Nothing had made me feel so good in a long time. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Enter, first slump in the third month of my project. End of semester submissions and a 365 day project are not a good combination (this was the excuse I gave myself). There were days when I picked up a pen and a sheet of paper but nothing came out of it. It was frustrating. Let’s not talk about that.
I usually pick up one word from either a book I am reading or have looked up in the dictionary and use it in the haiku. Then the haiku is created, syllables are counted, synonyms are looked for and the final haiku is written down. I try to stick to the syllable count as much as possible but sometimes I didn’t have an option. (Counting syllables is confusing. By the time, the sixth month rolled in, I was goofing up syllable counts all the time because I was focusing too much to keep my idea intact.) I have written about things around me, menstruation, trees, sunsets, books and 360 other things. I have had to change an entire idea because the words wouldn’t fit the structure or the idea was too absurd if shortened. Then you create another idea in your head and repeat the circle.
There were week long slumps (longest was 22 days in December). Slumps are unavoidable. You unknowingly gather ideas during your writing slump. You will probably incorporate the word ‘slump’ in your haiku. Some people prefer to extend their project and continue to produce one haiku (or preferred topic) a day but I choose to compensate for all the days missed in one day. So if a week was missed, I would sit and write seven haikus in a day.
It has been a lovely project and I sat down last night with my notebook (actually a planner – convenient for writing haikus according to dates) of haikus and selected one favourite from each month. I have written all the haikus on my Tumblr but that would mean scrolling through a LOT of GIFs and reblogs to access the ones posted earlier. (Contemplating writing them month wise on Medium)
Here are my favourites from each month (after a lot of decision – changing):
creator of distance between humans,
paradise for birds.
Raising of eyebrows,
a talent mastered by few.
She, master of those few.
Conqueror of hearts
fortress of love and passion.
Army of haters.
pictured as vile, humorless.
Please, I say, please.
A string of crude words,
a row of punches, scratches.
His token of love.
(inspired by domestic violence stories I was reading)
Us multi linguists,
trying to stick to one language
like it’s possible.
"खत आया है।"
A sentence that brought shivers
and love struck smiles.
(first and only time I have used Hindi in my haikus. The first line means: A letter has come.)
Chocolate = saviour.
Fights angry ovaries, boredom
My words, too many.
Make writing long-winded haikus
Generous with hugs.
Led to frequent bouts of cold
and new friendships.
Beyond the horizon
an area I would explore
if not for sea sickness.
Blank canvas, paints, brushes.
Now all that was left was
Now that my first ever 365 day project is over, I am not sceptical of them. I have experienced the struggle of sitting down and trying to mince my words and thoughts to form a haiku. I know what it is like to commit yourself to one thing for an entire year. Moreover, I am supremely happy and that matters the most.