It is Homer who has chiefly taught other poets the art of telling lies skillfully. – Aristotle

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“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

writingI saw this quote come across my Facebook newsfeed today. Two years ago I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Today it struck home. You see, two years ago writing was the farthest thing from my mind. Writing of any kind but especially poetry. In my mind, writers sat before their typewriters (or computers, rather) and the words flew onto the blank page from their minds or hearts or souls or wherever the words were born. Sure, I knew that writers suffered blocks, periods when the words simply weren’t there. But the dam eventually broke and the words flowed forth once again unabated. Filling page after page with the greatest of ease.

Once I’d been bitten by the writing bug, I realized just how naive those thoughts really were. I’ve suffered from periods of writer’s block which did eventually end and the words did again begin to flow. But the truth is that Nathaniel Hawthorne was dead right! Easy reading is damn hard writing! What many non-writers don’t know (and I shudder to consider myself a writer still) is that good writing is rarely easy. Even when the words flow, even with motivation and inspiration present, writing is hard work!

I am reminded of another quote by another fairly famous writer you may have heard of, Oscar Wilde. He said,

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”

It is like that sometimes. Writers struggle not only with inspiration and story line and character development but with matters of language and grammar, form, style and more. We will labor over the smallest, seemingly insignificant details. We will make a change only to change it back later. Good writing is far more than inspiration, it is perspiration as well. Perspiration is the water that wets the ink well. Gaining this understanding gave me a new and very personal understanding of the phrase “labor of love”. If you write, you know and understand this all too well. If you don’t, then keep this fact in mind and just maybe the next novel or short story or poem you read you will leave you with a greater appreciation for what it took to create it.

Thanks for the inspiration, Terrye!



F. Scott Fitzgerald on Poetry

fsf“Poetry is either something that lives like fire inside you—like music to the musician or Marxism to the Communist—or else it is nothing, an empty, formalized bore, around which pedants can endlessly drone their notes and explanations.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Last Few Leaves

The Last Few Leaves

The Last Few Leaves
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Photo: Richard Stephen - 4-Jan-2013

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A Beautiful Little Blossom

A Beautiful Little Blossom

A Beautiful Little Blossom
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Photo: Richard Stephen - 18-Jan-2013



A Random Act of Violence by Rick Stephen

I’ve finally finished a poem after the Christmas holidays pretty much shut me down. Each December I have two weeks off until just after New Year’s Day. I had hoped to have lots of spare time to devote to writing. Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be the case.

So it was with a sense of satisfaction that I finally put pen to paper or more accurately fingers to keyboard and started to write yesterday. “A Random Act of Violence” was the result. I’m not quite sure how this poem ended up as it did. The poem was inspired by childhood memories of laying on the snow at night watching new snow fall out of the darkness above. How and why this pleasant experience morphed into this poem I honestly have no idea. Still, I hope it brings a chill to you in an unexpected way. Enjoy!

A Random Act of Violence

A bed of fresh snow
sends chills down my back
but the will to move
is something I lack

above me snow falls
with nary a sound
twinkling like stars
against blackness profound

they dance and they swirl,
flitter and flutter
on breezes unseen
with millions of others

read more …

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The Starflower

The Starflower - (Borago officinalis or Echium amoenum)

The Starflower – (Borago officinalis or Echium amoenum)




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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 138

I heard a portion of this sonnet quoted today while watching a movie. The portion quoted, the last four lines, intrigued me enough to look the entire sonnet up. It struck me when I did. I’ve long been a fan of Shakespeare but am far from an expert. Shakespeare’s observations on love and lying seem particularly astute. How many of us can relate to what he is saying here? How many of us have lived it? We often lie to ourselves and our lover in the name of love, don’t we? Reading this has given me the desire to spend more time gleaning the wisdom in his sonnets.


When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed:
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O! love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love, loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

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The Swim by Richard Stephen

I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in my usual genre lately and have been looking to expand out to other new and interesting areas. The response to some of these poems has been quite gratifying. Others not so much but being a new writer I must remind myself that it is all a learning and growing process. After all, I’ve only been at this a little over a year and a half and it’s not like I had been a “creative” individual in the past. So, I keep plugging away at it.

It’s something I encourage you to do also. Even you if you are happy and comfortable in your favored genre, branching out and experimenting will help expand your mind and horizons, expose you to different styles and methods of writing and make your a better writer in your chosen genre. You can start by reading poetry in genres you don’t normally read. You might be surprised at what your find and what you like! Either way, it may give you ideas and inspiration you can incorporate into your own writing.

My latest poem, “The Swim” is a deviation from my typical romantic fare. It’s still rhyming verse but written with cinquain stanzas with a little different rhyming scheme. I hope you enjoy it and, as always, your comments and criticisms are very much appreciated.

The Swim

Icy swells crash over his head
as he swims against the tide
a buoy he seeks
yet he’s growing weak
his fear subdued by his pride

Earlier that night he’d made a bet
after drinking a few too many
to the buoy and back
of pride he’d no lack
he knew he was as strong as any

read more …

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