№351; R-E-L-A-X

I am so excited to be working with fellow writers who’ve graciously agreed to write here at tmstanton.com. First up, we have S.P. Johnson, a poet I’ve known since college, but have never had the opportunity to work with in creative endeavors until now. His rumination on the writing process is a hard-earned reminder to all creatives!


S. P. Johnson is an emerging writer from down South.  Sharing insights on his experiences, he offers glimpses into the world as he sees it — rather as it has been shown to him. Follow him on Instagram @SPJohnsonWrites for updates and to stay in touch!


I would be well served to heed the wisdom of such a statement. In fact, we all could benefit from listening to Mr. Rodgers. Aaron, not Fred Rogers. Writing is taxing. It’s like work – or something or other – and it can drag us at times.

14, 5, 4, 10, 20, 1, 7, 31

Sorry. But those are not psychic visions of the next winning lottery numbers. Rather, those numerals happen to be the summation of my month’s worth of work.

Fourteen. That’s the number of publications I submitted poetry to in the past few weeks.

Five. The number of hours spent daily editing cover letters and poems I long thought to be perfecto

Four. That lovely feeling of waking up in your sweats, at the foot of the bed, with drool out of one side of your mouth and a fork full of pasta dangling from the other. Such an ode to 4 a.m.

Ten. The pounds that I lost in one week from stress induced mania and loss of appetite.

Twenty. The pounds that I regained by the end of the month.

One. One toxic person. My impetus, my muse, my drug that brought me to my knees — gone!

Seven. The average number of evenings per week spent crying myself to sleep. The inner thoughts so beneficial for creating, turned to doubt and self-pity.  

Thirty-one. The number of days in January that I made mistakes. Submitted piss-poor cover letters. Edits that would have made my works hit harder, but the visions came too late. I always have the brightest ideas post submission.

But —

There’s more to it than just the numbers. Of course, you already knew that. We’re artists. We go beneath the superficial.

Fourteen! Fourteen publications! That is a solid month. A month that would not have been as productive without the five, the four, or the one happening. The ten I enjoyed. The twenty not so much. The seven and the thirty-one? I love those the most. They represent passion and a commitment to mastery.

Until that mastery comes, I do hope that my work is very good. Though perhaps I shouldn’t use the word “very” — because it is very lazy to do so. I care for those submitted pieces to be astonishing, but not out of want for their acceptance. I want them to grab the editors and enthrall them enough so that, when they reject me, they’re compelled to share their harsh criticisms. That’s more validation than anything else.

So, here I am. A new month and trying to destress, at least before the next torrent, and all I can do is chuckle. I’m tickled by the hardships. The follies. The everything. It’s okay to laugh. Or at least give a tiny smirk.

January gifted me lessons in freedom, pleasure, and meaning. However, the best lesson is to work hard, but most of all —

“R-E-L-A-X”.

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