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

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