When the Door Closes

My secret life as a poet, writer, photographer…


Insecure Writer’s Support Group

IWSG – Sep 2015

Last fall, I leapt from the conventional working life into the abyss…and floundered, grabbing a buoy of tradition fairly quickly. Perhaps it was the discomfort of the unknown. Or the overwhelming freedom, which for some may be fruitful and productive but for myself was a deregulated mess of literary proportions! In other words, I didn’t try very hard at something I only thought of in rosy hues and was scared off easily when sunlight revealed all the colors of the rainbows. But, what is life but to try and fail and try again, right?

Anyway, I hope everyone’s had a much better/more productive couple months.

How Does Your Garden Grow? – IWSG, July 2015

Weed, Macro

I’ve discovered that writing’s akin to a garden, the perfumed enclosure resulting from backbreaking planting, watering, and weeding. Mine, through neglect borne of insecurity, is sadly more overgrown weeds than manicured perfection or even Secret Garden shabby chic! I neglected the “write daily” habit for highly successful authors, and I could very easily spiral into the shame game – this, after all, is my modus operandi. I’m going to try something different, though, because what good would result from berating an already insecure writing self? Nothing!.

So, taking a cue from Meditation for Beginners, I acknowledge the lapse without judgement and pick up my pen to write again. If I do this often enough, the easier sitting down and writing will get (right?!). Who knows, the more I believe in myself, the more I sit down and write. And then? I have a manuscript in my hand! Or a chapbook! Or both! The possibilities!

I understand our journey and motivations are different with each of us tending our garden in our own way (or not for some of us). Whatever your style, however, believe in yourself. Why not? Who else will? Even with the greatest support groups in the world (IWSG definitely included), no one will tend our garden to our unique specs better than us. So, fellow writers, let’s get watering!


Posted for IWSG
©2015 V. del Casal All Rights Reserved

Shuttered – a Haiku for IWSG

Blinds in Black and White

Light slants through the slats
and dust motes laze like the words
shuttered in my mind.


Posted for June 2015’s IWSG; click here to see what other writers are doing to prove to themselves they’re writerly enough!

©2015 V. del Casal All Rights Reserved

“Make Good Art” – IWSG, May 2015

I couldn’t come up with a topic for this month’s IWSG. April’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge sort of melted my mind. So, I’m going to cheat (and because I think I cheated a few times already in the past, the guilt isn’t so horrendous). Instead of presenting my own, original ideas, I’m going to share another’s (with appropriate attribution, of course!).

I admire Neil Gaiman a lot (a lot LOT), and when I ran across his 2012 commencement speech for Philadelphia’s University of the Arts graduating class, I was even more of a fan. This link will take you to the NPR article about that speech. Click here for the youtube video. In essence, he admonishes us artists to create, whether we’re in the dumps (or perhaps especially when we’re in the dumps) or whether we’re cresting one of life’s numerous hills. Good day? Bad month? Rejection? Acceptance? Just write and “make good art.” Let’s face it, most of us write better when we’re in the throes of deep emotions!

Happy writing! See you next month. 🙂

#IWSG – March 2015

As we ease further into 2015 and slide closer to spring, I can’t help but feel optimistic. My tiny little space in this vast universe is secured, and what’s not to love about that? I don’t know what turns the path of life will take or how the future will unfold. I don’t know how (or IF) I’ll make a living out of writing (or art in general), but as winter slowly slinks off, I’m not worried about the answers to these questions. For now, I’ll just “be.”

And so, my fellow writers, I’ll leave you this month with the last lines from Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” to savor, enjoy, and inspire:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

To read the poem in its entirety or to hear Mary read it, click here. Happy writing!!

©2015 V. del Casal All Rights Reserved

“What It Really Takes to Be an Artist”

I just read an article on which highlighted Teresita Fernandez’s keynote address to the 2013 graduating class of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, and though my IWSG post is now hours old, I think the following quote is worth sharing with all my comrades-in-arts (writers and photographers alike!). The full article can be found here. It’s a great pick-me-up for the insecure artist.

“A kind of panic sets in the very next day, an urge to get into the studio because you know you have to start all over again, building something from nothing, seeking the company of those trusted beneficial failures, waiting for those absurd internal dialogues with your own gang of voices. It’s not a very glamorous scenario. But this is precisely what internal success looks like. It is visible only to yourself and while you can trick the rest of the world into thinking you are a good artist, you can never really convince yourself, which is why you keep trying. If you’re lucky and motivated enough to keep making art, life is quiet, you get to work at what you love doing, happily chipping away at something, constructing something, adjusting to a cycle of highs and lows and in betweens, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing it for two years or 50 years, the patterns remain exactly the same. The anxiety continues to set in, the doubts creep in, the baby steps towards mending fragments starts all over again, the cautious urge to peek between the cracks is there. When you find yourself in that place, that’s when you’ll know that the inside is driving the outside.” -Teresita Fernandez, 2005 MacArthur Fellow

©2015 V. del Casal All Rights Reserved

Insecure Writer’s Support Group – Feb 2015

For me, part of the insecurity as a writer is rooted in fear. Fear of criticism not only for the work but for the subject matter. I’ve self-censored a lot, continually shutting off the voice which says “Write this down” and, instead, listening to the one which tells me that the audience will hate what I have to say.

At the start of the new year, I resolved to write write write. I’ve kept that promise, but now as the second month of 2015 begins, I fight to squeeze out lines only to pound on the return button in frustration. Argh! Why?! Because I skirted around the topics I really want to write about. Too controversial; not mainstream. In censoring my writing, however, I’ve stifled my voice, and that’s a shame, because isn’t art a creative outlet? A place to explore the not-so-pleasant realities of this world – and perhaps affect change because of that exploration?

Yesterday, I ran across a quote from Sherwood Anderson: “The point of being an artist is that you may live…the object of art is not to make salable pictures. It is to save yourself.” I needed this reminder. I started writing (as an adult) to save myself, and I almost lost track of why I began. Offense is not my intention, I’d just like to open a different lane in the freeway of conversation.

How about you, fellow writers? Do you hesitate or plunge into your work?

©2015 V. del Casal All Rights Reserved


#IWSG, Jan 2015

A year ago this month, I created my site and leapt blindly into the blogosphere. Much digital ink has run through these fingers in the past 12 months, and I think I’m a better writer for it. However, I’m still a card-carrying member of the insecure writer club, because, in embracing the writing life, I’ve opened the door to my soul and who doesn’t flinch at the light which shines into the dark recesses?

Hopefully, the glare in 2015 won’t be as blinding. Perhaps I’ll also have hoarded enough gumption to nudge my site further into the internet by joining Bloglovin’ or Pinterest or both! Mind you, I opened the door a mere crack. I’m not sure I’m ready for the full monty.

Whatever this year brings, though, I’ll carry with me the two lessons I learned at the end of 2014: 1) for heaven’s sake, just WRITE – thanks, Lisa; 2) mine for your own gold, because nothing gets a writer nowhere fast than writing for someone other than herself (or himself) – thanks to my sister for this advice.

Happy writing, fellow IWSG-ers. See you next month!


Written for the January 7th #IWSG
©2015 V del Casal All Rights Reserved

Out of the Frying Pan…

I did it! I jumped from this:

Dead Tree

And landed in this:

Canopied Stream

I’m being optimistic, of course – or delusional. I quit a well-paying job (which tore my insides into shreds, but hey it increased the balance in my bank account) and decided to spend my hours writing. At the time, it seemed like a great idea and remnants of that exuberance remain, but now fear’s at the party (unannounced) and is slowly flattening the fizz! AND procrastination tagged along. Argh!

For anyone who’s transitioned to a full-time writing life, any advice to a newbie? THANKS!!!



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