How Long Have You Been Working on That?   6 comments

A fuzzy morning at the coffee shop

It was a fuzzy morning at the coffee shop. I was looking at my notebook but nothing much was coming. You can’t divorce the day to day events from the art. The day to day was getting me down. The old lament. No work. A dwindling bank account. No prospects. Well, prospects, but they all seemed to be on the distant horizon.

The last three months of teaching had rendered me absolutely exhausted, I had not done enough of the work I need to do, artistically. It’s the old conundrum, how does one balance the need to make a living and pay the rent with the need to create art? Could I endure a few tough months, financially, in order to finish my book of poems?

And then all the other stuff. What’s going on with my hair? Why when I am walking everywhere and riding my bike everywhere am I unable to shed these 20 pounds? And the state of my wardrobe. What’s going on there? And the state of my love life which even by my own bizarre standards is, well, bizarre. And my hair, always my hair concerns. All these thoughts circulating in my brain, not exactly a healthy state of mind for creating great art.

A friend passed by and asked, “What are you working on?”

The truthful answer would have been, “Not much.” But I put on a brave face and said, “Trying to finish off my book of poetry.”

He asked, “How long have you been working on that?”

I said, “All my life.”

He took his seat and I went back to staring at my notebook. And then a man I have never seen before approached me and said, “Sorry to interrupt you but I heard what you said and I just thought that was so profound I had to say something. I know what you do, and I know you do it for not much money or recognition, but I wanted you to know that some of us appreciate you, and admire what you do.”

And then he left. I took a deep breath. I swear to God, if only one person is listening, just knowing that gives you the strength to carry on.

I squared my shoulders and picked up my pen and started to write.

Thanks for reading . . .


Posted June 4, 2012 by Eugene Stickland in Uncategorized

6 responses to “How Long Have You Been Working on That?

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  1. why is it that the best artists/writers often struggle the most? You are appreciated! I wish I were a modern day Peggy Guggenheim………..I would totally sponsor you and award you Calgary’s best Writer/Playwrite/Poet!

  2. Such an honest entry. I appreciate that. I too was at a coffee shop this morning trying to revise a book of poems, trying to make the words reflect what I want them to express or not express. I’ve been revising this same book of poems for 2 years! Some days are harder than others for creativity. On those days I turn to what other poets have written. Sylvia Plath is a favourite and her hard consonant words and dark moods draw me in. I also break down and buy too many books. Last week I received The Kalevala – Finland’s epic book of poems comparable to Beowulf and now I just want to spend hours immersed in it rather than work on my own poems. Poetry is never easy, but it does seem necessary, so keep going. We are all in the same boat.

  3. Awesome. And I wish I had been that man overhearing you say that so I could have said his same comment to you! Keep at it. We need you to do so. Hair and all.

    Terry MacKenzie

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