11:29 A.M.

I want to break this blog entry into two parts. The first being a tribute to the success of Thirty West and why I am thankful. The second, my view on the state of this country as of 11/8/16.

1. These past two months have been duly influenced by accomplishments and anxiety. Why, one may ask? Well, to put it simply, I'm graduating. I never thought this day would come, yet it is about a month and a half away. Yes, I have been creating this microcosm that is Thirty West, which is an accomplishment in itself; publishing both novice and professional writers of many disciplines. For the website being about 3.5 months old, the company nearing 1 year, it has brought joy to my heart and stress upon my bones. You would be surprised how hyper-aware I am of managing the utmost pristine website I can offer; sacrificing social time and personal relaxation for the sake of the press. However, I simply do not have the time to perfect it. It is not the time to perfect it. It is but a toddler: walking, yet stumbling; eating, yet making a mess. Patience has raised me akin to my father (and my mother, up until she was called away to the aether before my 9th birthday) throughout my life, and being employed comfortably at an engineering firm has augmented my time management skills, scheduling abilities, and more. As of now, I have four wonderful ladies, both friends before and friends during Thirty West's inception, putting in their own time and efforts to judge and edit all of the 80+ submissions that we have received since Submittable and Duotrope were established. I have an experienced friend and mentor that has been providing feedback on not only my creative work, but with the state of the press and my accomplishments and shortcomings. Hell, I sent copies of chapbooks to a Texas and New York bookstore (currently 1 out of 2), thanks to him. I also have an awesome (in the literal sense) artist that stays awake for days on end to extract the muses from within onto paper. If it wasn't for her acute awareness of the business, I would have been backpedaling months ago. One may say that I am doing quite well, however there are roadblocks, errors, and days where I loathe my existence and question why I even started this press to begin with: the sake of preserving indie art (most recently printing broadsides).

2. With anxiety being the 'part two' of this duality, well one doesn't have to travel far; the TV and Facebook assume the omniscient parent role for us all. It seems that everything is a ruse unless taken by video, and even then, can be manipulated physically to curtail to one's bias. This world is spiraling into a tumultuous state of civic unrest, natural exploitation, and unethical jurisdictions at unsafe driving speeds, and there is bound to be a turn too tight; a stoplight blown...it compounds an instilled frustration within the mind of an artist (now I know how Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and other voices of the 'Lost Generation' felt). Now, we have another 'lost' generation, consisting of different generations with individual beliefs in the realm of politics, society, and morals. Now, less than 24 hours ago, our highly disfavored president elect has been announced. Fingers are being pointed quicker than one says 'Hello'. There is a bogeyman in the room and no-one is sure which face they have to pull off to identify the culprit. Unsettling mania will not save us. Zealous bigotry will not save us. A great divide no matter which way it is cut into our country's heart, will not save us; it is absolutely out of the equation. Emerson once penned an essay before the Civil War about self-reliance and how it is OK to be inconsistent, as long as you are developing yourself. Fast forward nearly 200 years and take a look around. There is inconsistency everywhere, yes, but it is skewed, it is regressive. It is OK to have views that are accepted one day and challenged the next. That is a sturdy premise for personal growth, is it not? Some may require a more forceful approach or the toughest of loves, but without growth comes decay and stagnation. Seems like now is the best time to derive from decay and begin the cycle, as the spring-time air floods the surface of the planet. Not only does our American society need your help, Mother Earth needs it as well. Collectivism shouldn't be predetermined by hatred. I am speaking on the sake of humanity, because isn't that what is the most strung out and lost these days? 

 

10:15 P.M.

"Why I spent hundreds of dollars on art, and why you should too."

People who are not in tune with an art community want to boisterously contend that ‘art is dead’. The jobs are all allocated in the STEM fields, (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and unless you want to become a teacher, the arts seem useless. Well, I, and many other artists, would contend that the art community is full of uses such as marketing, project management, public relations, publishing, editing, and criticism, to name a few. Clearly someone outside the looking glass cannot understand, as to a neo-classical poet when quantifying physics (but hey, I may be wrong).

People say that buying art is strictly for hanging up, grinning once, and frowning twice; resting it permanently on a coffee table to be buried in dust. Again, we contend that this is not the case. Within every piece of art, be it visual or textual, there is a value. It may not become apparent to one today, or tomorrow, or forever, but subjectively, another may, within the time it takes for eyelashes to kiss. One cannot denounce what one cannot comprehend. Clearly, the best option is to simply do not get involved. Being on the outside looking in, and the ensuing comments (in this case negative) that follow, will nine times out of ten, become banal and absolutely pointless. In short, leave the art for the artists.

Now that I’ve got that transgression out of my system, and to elucidate on the title of this blog, I will begin to tell you why you should do what I’ve done: purchase hundreds of dollars’ worth of art. It will take a few minutes to fully emerge, but bear with me, for a frustrated artist and publisher has volumes of opinion condensed into a succinct one thousand word essay. When I finally decided that I was to solidify an interest in the arts two years ago, I had to also assess many factors: who to read, who to ‘model’ my own aesthetic off of, and lastly, who are my like-minded contemporaries. With a sturdy foundation, I’ve grown into something my twelve-thirteen year old self couldn’t have possibly imagined: becoming a published author. Indie, yes, but still a published author. There are levels to art, as to any organization, and so far, I’m climbing high, now the owner of a micro-press. Yet, to know art, one must immerse in said art of whichever discipline of one’s choosing. More power to you if you can bridge a diverse portfolio. There are some gifted individuals that can create in multiple ways. However, and ironically so, one cannot discover said artist if his/her work is left without an adopted owner.

I’ve studied the trends of this strange phenomenon that is the publishing world for these past two years and reluctantly say that there are people that simply do not want to pay for art. Whatever they can read during a hectic day, for free on social media, will suffice just enough to make it to the proceeding day. However, when a monetary figure emerges—and these figures tend to range from modest to exorbitant—one is forced to decide if this monetary item supersedes what is readily available for free. Sadly, the switch of desire can immediately be turned off and the artist is left fumbling blind in the dark. Doubling down on this, once encapsulated in dark, a berating remark may hit them at random, like a switchblade to the gut. Demands of a cheaper or a free product litter the void, thus turning the artist into a state of implosion, in which motivation, self-confidence, and sanity become encroached upon with haste. “How can my work, in which I’ve been toiling over for X amount of time, be simultaneously denied and suggested to be more cost effective?” Clearly, this is a longwinded monologue, but you should get the gist by now. It sounds like torture, no? Well, believe it or not, it is.

I feel it as an obligation to delve into my contemporaries’ work. I want to not only experience whatever slice of life they are trying to interpret, but to aid them morally, financially, and spiritually. Feedback is crucial for anyone, not just an artist. I’ve tried my best, over these past two years—and nearing 100 reviews—to give pertinent feedback that is similar to a rounded sword: enough to jab with attention, but lacking a skewering point to dig deep. But, of course, one cannot turn the budding critic into a boogeyman. If one is to publish, one must be able to accept any and all that may come their way, be it positive and negative. At the end of the day, if someone has purchased a piece of art, they, as a connoisseur, should feel equally elated as the artist who can now use royalties to fund their next project; to also make it to the next day with a full stomach or quenched thirst. Indulge in the creative gift. Absorb the labors that one inscribed within the pages or easel. If they plea for honesty and forethought, grant them it, without question. It is then, where the artist can feel the knob of existence and turn it without hesitation. Only the damned should be locked in darkness, anyways.

In closing, I highly implore you to reevaluate how you view the arts. What budget can you devise to divert—even a meager fund—towards artwork? There is no shame with funding someone that is pressing their passions to the very edge of their rib-cage, whilst expecting little in return. They say “art is dead”, but express no remorse for their brutalized wallet when a high dollar electronic product walks gaily out the big box’s door; when the complicated morning/afternoon beverage with four adjectives slides deeply into the waste bin, to never be seen again. Realize that the light from within an elated artist after a successful purchase, is akin to stardust. Believe me, I’ve read it in paragraphs and seen it in their eyes, even experienced the sublimity myself. Paying it forward seems to be a popular social activity, so why can’t one also pay art forward? 

9:23 P.M.

Artists truly have it rough: the consistent nagging to create, dictated from a subconscious voice, struggling to balance life's oppression, the existential dread that one's artistic discipline may or may not succeed, plus many, many more circumstances. These stressors have a tendency to pile up, which can either be 1. Easily addressed by peers, family, or friends with an enthusiastic night out or similar fun activity or 2. Shelved into one's mind on a rickety bookcase, destined to creak, crack, and crumble. Each individual artist is or isn't easily susceptible to the latter, but we do not live in a perfect world. Shit happens. However, there is a specific, and horrid, alternative circumstance (let's call it 2a for sake of argument) that can rear its ugly head. That subsection: ignorance and aggression.

I believe every artist, regardless of discipline, must go through a 'coming of age' process. This can either result in a singular event where criticism is received unexpectedly and undesired or a series of consistent failures where no progress is made (think of the official definition of insanity). To tie into the reasoning of 2a, this abrasive intent or attitude is normally the effect of a botched coming of age; where one revolts against the criticizer due to an obscure self-righteous motive or sense of superiority. Thus, the artist continues along this path of resentment with taunts, aggression, and obscene remarks towards fellow artists, be they 'competition' or 'contrived'. In short: bullying. 

Now, my dear reader, please do not obscure this practice with constructive criticism. Typically, const. crit. is meant to leave a subjective impression from the reader, for the author; to formulate a pertinent argument, yet still leave the author with a takeaway and a smile. He/she can do whatever they please with said remarks; throw them in the trash, follow them to the T, one's to only speculate. An artist who seeks criticism must entertain all forms of criticism in good faith (in an organized, ethical workshop, presumably). The potentiality of a remark may gouge the flesh at first, thus arousing emotion, however, the scar that forms remains hardy and resilient to future battles. A story cannot become a classic if the author is the only one reading it.

In closing, I do implore you all to perform a simple Google search on creative writing workshop guidelines. Educate yourself with a perspective that may or may not have been previously introduced to you. Refresh. Indulge. Apply. There is many a harsh word to be said if one is to continue the act of bullying in their contemporary's work, expressed in both parties. For the belligerent: Why not allocate your mental fortitude to improve your art, and not scraping the paint off of others' masterpieces? The end result shall typically end in violence. For the artist: Do your best to ignore the sham of a bully, yet reinforce the vellum of emotion with an impervious card stock.

8:08 A.M.

There are times when the artist must take some time to reflect on their life; to view inconsistencies and nurture them back to health. With college coming to a close and my two employers requiring more time, I am constantly micromanaging my time for just a brief escape into the creative realm. Some days I will write and edit with a gun to my head. Other times, I relax and wait until the next opportune moment (which may not arrive until days later). As you can see, the apparent inconsistency for me is time, but I have become so adept at this management; so much so that it hardly phases me. No, my true flaw is lack of experience. And I am bound to change that.

This is why I went to Massachusetts. I desired to connect with great minds in literature and history, even if they are dead. If one is inclined enough, a dead man's (or woman's) aesthetic can be easily exhumed for study. Anyone can pick up a book and read (which is what I've been doing for the past two years now in the form of critical analyses) but that was not the case. I needed more. Nothing, not even God, could withhold the goosebumps that arose on top of my skin when I stepped foot in Dickinson's bedroom; when I graced The Old Manse, knowing that Emerson and Hawthorne penned a revolution in one solitary room; when I ventured into Walden woods to breath in the exhaust from Thoreau as he built his cabin many moons ago. Some may consider this trip an elongated yawn of a period that they will never live within, but for me, it was a nourishment of the soul. I, tangentially, became apart of the American Renaissance. 

Even if it was for a weekend, I was able to fill the void of experience that I so desperately craved. It gave the trip a more particular significance knowing that my girlfriend enjoyed it also. I try my best to use Transcendentalism as a 'model' for my writing, so this trip was well-timed.  

 

6:26 P.M.

Unity. What do we, as humans, gain from this word? There are many times when this word becomes stifled through clouds of trepidation; murky to the point where unity is difficult or nearly impossible. The grasp of the subconscious hand slowly loses its grip on the fellow man, thus wielding an outstretched palm—or lately a closed fist tucked close to the cheek—as to navigate, blindly, through this labyrinth we call life. Yet, there is hope that humanity can cease this toil, by simply using their voice. Yes, their voice, be it spoken aloud, in mumbled curse, or even expressed onto the parchment. By any means, voices spoken with clarity bring understanding. Clarity brings rationality. Rationality can either go one of two ways: trust or uncertainty. I implore you to take the former stance when visiting Thirty West.

A main concept about this site is to not just talk about publishing. There is an air about the word that can lead a misinformed artist into the wrong direction. Granted, there are multi-million dollar publishers (from here-on known as 1) that know the metadata to claim a huge audience with a spectacular author, and there are vanity publishers (from here-on known as 2), who lead one down the rabbit hole of false fame through money-first-product-later logarithms. And then there are simply, Indie/small press publishers; the true artists of the bookmaking craft, in my honest opinion. Some dismiss the capitalistic gains of 1, pleading to others for leftover dinner money or pocket change, who scrounge around office dumpsters for refused paper, spend their hard-earned money in whatever occupation of their choosing, electing to eat one less meal a day; to go one less week without the electric or running water. These select few know the struggles of fulfilling the entrepreneurship of small business, while simultaneously fulfilling their aesthetic, while simultaneously fulfilling their socio-economical demands in a capitalistic system, while simultaneously acquiring food and a ‘good night’s sleep’ so that they can fulfill their physiological need to survive. Do you see a trend here? At the closing of the nighttime eye—or day, depending on your schedule—they become truly fulfilled, know that it is their passion that has emerged on top of this dogpile of stress. It is the fulfillment of their very soul that allows the aforementioned process to continue.

As a child, I learned quite quickly how the influence of stress could take one on a harrowing ride. Seeing death and pain was the worst; keeping my head above tepid waters of black proved difficult. Even in my young adult life, things became no easier, and the stress stained me dark, infecting parts of my moral conscience that were chaste and prohibited from even my subconscious from altering. Hence, like the phoenix of many a tale, I was re-birthed into a realm that piqued my interests, and that is literature. I repressed the realm in which I was genuinely intrigued in with the times, yet found solace through music and drawing before I ultimately honed back into the reading realm. My whole life I’ve spent creating from scratch, and it is that very fabric of the creative process that makes publishing so fulfilling to me. With this platform, I hope that I can help spread my passion outward, like Thoreau and his glorious Walden tree; the essence that connects us all through nature.

With unity, I also strive for expansion. Reaching out past the computer screen and into the physical realm…that is where I want to be. Luckily, I’ve meet some magnificent people that share this passion in their own way; their own creative discipline that varies from my own. They immediately have reached to my arms with their outstretched palms. As united, we can emerge from the debacle of life and pursue the sunlight that inches its way upward, beyond the foggy wall. With this support I am eternally grateful, and hope that Thirty West pushes forward in its own way. In closing, here is a poem that was published through Temple’s literary magazine, Hyphen. With the over-saturation of all that is muck and garbage, this poem easily invokes a dark mood and negative connotation. However, is the ‘blackness’ just a metaphor? Is it truly, the lack of passion that continues to infect and spew out? You can be the judge of that. Enjoy your visit to Thirty West.

Gathering of Shadows (2015)

A swirling drain hole of black,

taking everything down with the goo of my innards.

A viscous bile covering, sticking to my hands.

A sloppy murk is what my heart has become.

Sickly and liquefied; the solid state of matter

is futile, let alone feasible.

Splattering it all along the wall,

while mocking the Picasso I never was.

Like a child making mud pies,

what a rank innocence to be had.

Then I realize, the stitches were never meant to be sewn,

and I shall continue to seep more and more

until the breath is expunged and the last drop dribbles out.