When the Door Closes

My secret life as a poet, writer, photographer…



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

“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


Ebb and Flow

The ebb,
rolling foam,
and the shoals,
for waxing hope
to return.

Posted in Response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Object
©2015 V del Casal All Rights Reserved

Insecure Writer’s Support Group – Aug 2014

I realized that since joining IWSG all my posts revolved around my insecurities – which, given the premise of the group, is unsurprising (albeit boring; so sorry – really!). I’ve yet to DO anything substantial to further my career as a writer, though. I edit friends’ graduate research papers and am currently taking a technical writing class (which weirdly focuses on editing). However, I’m ashamed to say I’ve not really done anything beyond actual writing. It’s a large part of a writer’s life, sure, but Lisa Jackson’s post yesterday (on Live to Write – Write to Live) knocked me for a loop. She was right; I was procrastinating and using my insecurities to prevent myself from building my writing business. How can I expect to live as a writer if I don’t show my work to publishers??

So, I put on my big girl pants and sent in a query to a magazine (first ever!) BEFORE writing this blog. As an insecure writer, I’ve already written the editor’s rejection letter to me, but you know what, fellow newbies? My ego needs calluses; I might as well start the rubbing now!

See you all next month. I’ll bring the epsom salt for soaking our collective bruised egos. 🙂

© 2014 All Rights Reserved


Insecure Writer’s Support Group – Do What You Gotta Do

“Do what you gotta do so you can do what you wanna do.” -Denzel Washington, “Great Debaters”

As one who doesn’t earn a living with the pen (yet), contemplating a jump from the safe existence I currently live into the deep waters of a writing life is especially daunting. Ashamedly, I’ve to admit that the siren-like pull of a steady income has kept me battened to a job I most assuredly do not like. Trudging to work, however, is starting to feel like an odyssey – with Scylla and Charybdis waiting at the end to swallow me whole.

Then how does an aspiring author navigate between dream and reality and survive intact? I have absolutely no bloody clue. Thankfully, the census on this boat of uncertainty is high. Even Odysseus improvised his way through a 20 year trek! So I’ve slowly begun donning a life jacket for the inevitable jump in the only way I know how. One arm at a time. A class here. An edit job there. And writing writing writing. Every word. Every phrase. Every scene. And maybe (hopefully) the hurtle into unknown briny blues will not result in a drowning.

How about you, my fellow aspirers? How are you surviving the prologue?


Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Psst, friend!

See this?

It’s my secret.

Writing. Words on paper.

But, I’m afraid to show anyone

just in case they laugh.

Coz, I mean, really

who am I kidding?

I’m no Byron.

I used to think that writing and I had a love hate relationship, if a relationship can be defined as a chubby nerd (which I was) crushing on the popular high school jock that is. So I did what every self-respecting curvy gal did (nope, not diet), I hid behind pillars and posts and stalked the jock and swooned every time he smiled at someone behind me and I just happened to be in the way. That’s how I’d written, you see. Sporadically and always shying from writing down the stories and poems in my head. I felt that somehow putting words on paper and producing something would validate what I’d always known: mediocrity. Seriously, I’m not Jane Austen. I’m not E.B. White. Neither am I Hemingway or (insert every famous author here). And to me, that meant I shouldn’t even try.

But, as every writer knows, the pen and paper (or keyboard and computer) are magnets. My hand is drawn to them when something (a scene, a line) pops into my head. These days, I’m inclined to actually acknowledge those somethings. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still very much a chubby nerd (LOVE rice!), but now writing and I have an understanding. No hiding. And whatever finished work comes out is something of which I’m (mostly) proud. I may never reach the status any of the authors I admire have attained, and that’s ok (might actually be for the best!). I’m me, and I write for the simple pleasure of putting words together.

Happy writing!!

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