Sunday, June 14, 2015

The faintest glimmer of the moon’s silvery light spills through the half shuttered windows of my bedroom as I begin this entry. I suppose this is somewhat appropriate.The night time is for dreamers and I am nothing, if not one of the lost dreamers of dusk. I build fanciful sandcastles in the hemisphere of my imagination like it was my job.Interestingly enough, that’s what I’ve been trying to do all this time. Take my penchant for words and make it into a job. One thing is for certain, it has not gone smoothly. This has proven to be one of the most difficult tasks I have ever undertaken. Sometimes, if I am really, really lucky, I get snippets or lines which seem perfect for the poem or essay I’m working on but mostly I only get partial words or phrases which even if I can suss them out, don’t neatly fit into the puzzle of the piece I’m trying to create.

Additionally, my graduation from college did not prove to be the magical key to gainful  and rewarding employment I had hoped. After 9 months as an instructional aide at a middle school I am spending my summer sending out resume’s and filling out online job applications. So far I’m up to around 110 job applications without an interview. As you might imagine this is not a condition which lends itself to the creative process necessary for writing. It makes me wonder how some of the great giants in literature were able to pen such unbelievably imaginative and magical tales while living in abject poverty. They were better men and women than myself for that alone. 

Let’s go ahead and check off the rest of the boxes under Murphy’s Law, shall we? Upon graduating from college I was immediately laid off the job I have had for the past six years. I actually felt OK about this initially as I believed my degree would make me more attractive to better paying employers. Unfortunately, I spent the next 15 months sending out around 400+ applications and resume’s! 

To my surprise friends I had considered ‘true blue’ became too busy to pick up the phone when I called. There’s an old English proverb which comes to mind. “In times of prosperity, friends will be plenty, in times of adversity, not one in twenty.” It has proven to be one of the most accurate quotes I have ever read.  I could go into great detail here, but to what end? Suffice to say I have learned anew the deeply regrettable experience of betrayal. It will probably not be the last time for me, but I pray I am never as gullible or as trusting as I have been in the past. Funny thing is how your enemies and detractors almost always enter the room with a smile. Still, karma is an immutable teacher and it has many lessons to teach and so I will let it repay my betrayers in kind. 

So within this confusion I have found myself unable to coax the fertile seeds of creativity to bloom sufficiently enough that I might harvest them. 

I’m presently working my way through Julie Cameron’s The Artists’ Way in an effort to re-discover the creative path I once tread so effortlessly. To be fair, the path was never clear and apparent and had been all but completely overtaken with the grass and weeds of self-doubt and indecision, but I still somehow knew how to get where I needed to go, even when the path seemed to have disappeared. Here’s to finding my way back again. Soon. 

More updates to come. Hopefully, better ones.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Well, hello there and how are you? Been some time since I last touched base with you, no? My apologies, but life has done an unbelievable job of getting in the way. It doesn’t need any help in that regard. Of this I am certain. I must be honest and say that I have put off this update because there hasn’t been all that much that’s new to report. It is true that I have completed my college degree program of study and while I’m excited and happy, it really only means I have to re-double my efforts to find suitable employment. This has proven to be a major obstacle in my creative journey. Before I sat down to pen this update I was thinking about the last 4 years and if I’m to be honest most of that block of time, conditions were not conducive to creating the kind of art I aspire to breathe life into. Trying to successfully balance a full-time job and a full-time school schedule left me creatively tapped. I still had the ideas, but lacked the motivation and fire to distill them into something which I could present to the public. Now that school is done, I’m too busy with resume’s, job applications and interviews to fully commit to the writing process.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I need a moment to catch my breath. I feel like I’ve been traveling across the burning sands of an unforgiving desert and I’m ready for an oasis where I can take sustenance and perhaps re-connect with my ever fleeting muse before I must take up the journey again.

To that end I gathered a handful of my most recent poems and submitted to a writers contest which caught my attention. The cash prize is not significant enough to even mention, but there is a one-month long writing retreat attached along with the opportunity to potentially network with some agents and other people in the business who are based in New York. It’s anybody’s guess if I have a chance at winning, but if I am successful, this could prove to be the respite I believe I am so desperately in need of.

This entire project has been me thinking, writing and refining it on the run. I was always writing between the time I left the university and the time I needed to clock in for work. I sought the perfect word or analogy or image in the wee hours of the morning trying to burn just enough of the midnight oil to compel the muse to bless me with her gifts. I have traded hours of slumber for the chance to write something which would touch the reader’s heart.

I must be honest and admit that the writing process has not gone as smoothly or as quickly as I might like as of late. Conceptually, I am very clear on what direction I need to take and I can move the monumentally big blocks of potentially inspirational thoughts around quite easily, however, the process of distilling all the impurities out of my project is proving time consuming and frustrating to say the least.

I find myself thinking quite a lot of the story of Michaelangelo’s Freeing of the statue of David. The story goes that Michaelangelo was commissioned to sculpt a statue of the biblical hero David. There was a huge block of marble which had been provided for the endeavor and many artists had previously tried to sculpt David, but the marble had proven itself too difficult to work with. Every sculptor who had previously been commissioned had been unsuccessful. The first sculptor Agostino di Duccio was commissioned to begin work in 1464, but after two years he only had the very beginnings of the feet and legs. The sculpture sat unfinished for ten years! Then another sculptor by the name of Antonio Rossellino was tapped to continue the work, but he was let go shortly thereafter. The sculpture then stood untouched for another 25 years. Michaelangelo was finally given the job and in about two years had completed one of the most beautiful sculptures ever chiseled. He said the statue of David was already in the marble block, perfect, just waiting to be freed. All he had to do was chip away what was not David.

And so it goes with me I think. I am never at a loss for words for my collection, but it's a matter of finding the ‘right’ words. I find myself constantly chipping away a this project so that all of what remains is what is supposed to be there. While the need for this project to be born has been a steady hum, almost impossible to drown out high in the balconies of the theater of my mind, it seems to have no specific schedule that it must keep to in terms of when it plans to be done. 

I don’t profess to think that I am the literary version of Michaelangelo for the record, but only wish to make note of the similarities reference the obstacles artists and creative’s experience on the path to completion.

So here I am in the courtyard workshop of my own version of the Florence Cathedral, a heaping stack of paper and notebooks before me. My pen is frozen and not presently moving to chip away all that does not belong. Additionally, I am tasked with having to leave the project on a regular basis to seek out suitable work to pay bills and such. But, even when I am not in the courtyard, I am thinking of what needs to be cut away. The words visit and depart from me with the frequency of an ocean breeze. One minute it is upon my face and neck and though I cannot see it, no one can convince me the thing has not descended upon me, the next minute it is gone, an epilogue to an unfinished narrative. When that happens I am left stroking my face trying to explain to the uninitiated how I was just touched by something divine.

Until the last poems and essays have been freed from this marble block of potential inspiration I will be here, plotting the x and y coordinates of my next surgical strike. Eventually, I hope to get to someplace good, someplace worth going. Until then, I endure... as do we all.


Stance Neal

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

To the faithful few who read on, I salute you. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read what I have penned. I am well aware it is not much at present. I can only say that sooner or later, good things are coming.

In my last update I suggested that this blog might get ugly from time to time, not out of anger, but due to the inevitable trials and tribulations every artist must endure in order to birth new art into the world. Such is this update.

Make no mistake about it, that's what I believe I'm doing.  All these technological hiccups, all the ventured emails requesting help which were never returned, all the rewritten stanzas, couplets and paragraphs which seemed to be going someplace divine but ventured into incoherent babble. It's all labor pains of a sort I think.

Robert Frost once said that he never started a poem knowing how it was going to end. There's something both comforting and frightening about that statement. It's comforting because, like Frost, I'm not 100% certain where I'm going when I put pen to paper either. Frightening because when you're driving the back roads of creativity at night with the headlamps off, it's easy to end up in a ditch along the side of the road. Tragedy lies to the left, failure to the right and somewhere up ahead is the distant town of serenity. You've never been there before in this particular vehicle and fuel is running low, but if you goose the gas pedal, stay off the brake and grip the steering wheel just so, you just might make it.

I'll be honest, right now it is difficult to stay in the proper frame of mind to move forward on this project. I was laid off from my job a few months ago and new job opportunities do not seem to be forthcoming. It is difficult to breath life into this project when the overwhelming burden of the job search is always upon me. Additionally, I have discovered that most of the friends in my life whom I had filed under "true blue" were mis-filed. It seems I should have filed them under "fair-weather". I have learned the truth of the statement, "Nobody loves you when you're down" for certain.

But, while difficult I have also come to view this project as a necessary task. For some time now I have needed a way to steer my mind through the creative rapids which is my ever churning imagination. This project is my rudder. I'm going someplace for a change and not just sailing around the same old enchanted islands and colorful levee's. In the past it was enough for me to pen beautiful words, but now I want to craft work which is not only beautiful, but which also coalesces into something which resonates with the heart of the reader and dreamer alike. As you can imagine it is no easy task.

We are further away from publication than I would like at this point, but it still feels like it's going to happen. This is admittedly a strange sensation. I am fairly confident there is no money or fame to be had with the publication of this collection. Most of the people I have mentioned it to only gave the most perfunctory of disinterested nods. Yet, this work seems intent on being borne into this world and it seems convinced that I am to be the conduit.

As I mentioned previously, I'm a fairly good starter of creative projects, but am a pretty poor finisher. If this was just an idea I had to put a few bucks in my pocket, or if it was a chance to bend an ear or two with a poem, I'd probably have given up on it by now. But as I struggle through the collected works I cannot shake the feeling that there is something of merit and value here. It just feels potent and worthy of being shared. I'll say more about this in the future. For now, please trust that I am writing with a higher purpose in mind, one which even I am not fully aware. This is OK with me by the way, my job is to do the work and I aim to get it as close to it's original untarnished state as I possibly can.

Well, that's it for now.

Stay tuned for more updates about how the work is coming along.

No snippets yet, but I hope you'll trust me when I say I think I'm going to someplace good.

Stay focused out there and I hope you have a wonderful tomorrow.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

IN REPAIR (not together, but I'm getting there.)

Welcome faithful reader to my blog.

This particular space has gone through many restarts and refreshes over the last few years. To be quite honest, I was never sure what to make of it. I enjoyed having the space to lay my thoughts onto the digital page of the blog, but lacked focus. I am alternately blessed and cursed to have many different hobbies and interests. Both, all and none of them seemed appropriate for an endeavor such as this.

I tried making this blog a place to journal my everyday life, but I soon discovered that it was as boring to me as it was to the people who neglected to read it. It was not long before I scrapped the entire project and deleted all of the old posts.

Still, I could not get the idea out of my head that if there was a digital canvas out there in the world, I should be trying to paint something onto it.

This pervasive thought led me to the re-launch I'm doing tonight. No fanfare or trumpets in the distance, no parades or fireworks, just me here with my laptop propped haphazardly on the edge of my bed as a makeshift desk. Just a guy who believes he has the talent to blaze a trail from the middle of nowhere to someplace worth going.

With that said, I welcome you to the re-launch of my blog. It is vitamin enriched and suitable for consumption by all dreamers and optimists, anyone who dares to fan the dying embers of a heartfelt desire is welcome.

I'm going to be as blatantly honest as I can be on this blog within the context of my chosen focus. Not every post will be uplifting or pretty. Some of this will undoubtedly recount the inherent ugliness which we all must endure in life. However, I feel like I'm going to be going someplace good so I think it will balance itself out.

Oh, where's my head, I haven't actually talked about the new focus yet, have I? My apologies. I'm going to be writing and self publishing a collection of poems and essays! I know right? Not that exciting or new huh? Well hear me out. I am a longtime dabbler and purveyor of all forms of writing. A fairly good beginner, but a poor finisher. The idea for this collection has been nipping at my heels off and on for about the last 5 years. I think it's high time I sat down and finished the thing, for better or worse. This endeavor will either make me or break me.

There are a few people on and off the net who can attest to my professed talent and ability with regard to the written word, but I'll let you be the judge of whether the Muse has truly lit upon my shoulder or not.  I read quite a lot of poetry and truly believe I'm bringing something unique to the table, but I am, of course, somewhat biased. :-)

I hope you stick around to see this journey. I believe it will be an interesting one. I'm still in the process of penning content, but things are finally coming together in a way that they have not previously done. I'm not yet at the point that I want to share any of my content, but when I do hit the sweet spot, this will be where I tip my hand. Even if no one cares now, this might be an interesting back story if I make it into the sky and/or stratosphere. Repairs are in progress. Rocket ship diagnostics are a go.

Speak soon,