by Patrick Stafford
Many words are often used to describe the creative process. Perspiration, inspiration, hard work and misery are a few! Frustration, drudgery and obsession also come to mind. But for me personally, no word better encompasses the whole process than the word passion.
Passion is a process unto itself. It entails developing, having and feeling the strong desire and unquenchable thirst for accomplishing something--for setting a goal and believing in it with every fiber of your being. And pursuing it until completion. No matter how arduous the journey, how difficult the challenge or how many obstacles are encountered along the way, if one is truly passionate in his beliefs and passionately determined to succeed, he will.
The passionate writer writes passionately. It's as simple as that. And the story he has to tell he is passionate about telling. There are of course many essential tools to the trade and craft of writing, but none more important, in my humble opinion, than passion. Even before a writer sets about writing his passionate tale he must be passionate about thoroughly learning the tools and skills of his trade. A dispassionate effort at formal or self-education will invariably render a dispassionate result. And its byproducts: disappointment, rejection and failure, can also be expected.
For years I had a passion to write about the Vietnam War. My passion began the very first time I termed it a war and not a "conflict" as popular media has too long called it. For a war was fought in Asia. Warring armies engaged in bitter and violent combat, and awesome weapons of destruction were employed. And thousands were maimed and slain and left destitute. So from the passion of my own personal experience and that of so many who served during the Vietnam War I was impassioned to write "Asian Darkness." The process was a long one and rife with many disappointments and challenges. But never was I discouraged from completing my writing goal nor ever dispassionate about the purpose of my writing. It all began with the following poem:
They stole him from me to send him off to war,
And there he stayed to fight and die till it was done.
It's bad when governments steal sons from you,
And he was my son.
They said this war had to be fought
And that it was for a just and noble cause.
So, since I was patriotic and voted for them,
I stood by their laws.
But it always seems to be the young who go
And against whom the scales of death are swung.
It's bad when governments send young men off to die,
And my son was young.
For what matters to them of a million deaths
When war is the tender of life they promote?
You can be sure when their reelection comes up,
They won't get my vote!
For the enemy is now my chosen leader,
The enemy called peace that all governments abhor!
And you can be sure they won't get any more of my sons,
Till they end all war.
Oh they may think they can get away with murder
And do any damn thing they feel must be done,
But they won't take what I love away from me again,
And I loved my son.
From this first entry as a war poet my passion guided and directed me to pen 99 other poems to complement and complete my journey through the jungles and badlands of South and North Vietnam. Along the way I found that I had also inscribed a tribute to warriors in general and to all the military men and women who fought and bled in Southeast Asia. "Asian Darkness" is a salute to them as well as a commentary upon almost every conceivable subject that the Vietnam War gave birth to. Moreover, my book is a salutation to every writer who has ever taken pen and paper to create from scratch a work of art or commentary. And did so through the process of true inspiration and tireless passion!
Patrick P. Stafford is a resident of Grants Pass, Oregon, and resides there with his novelist father, Elsan Stafford. Patrick has written for AccessLife.com, IQ Magazine, Neighborhood America, Amateur Chef Magazine, Careerbay.com and Healthcare Traveler, and has sold poems, articles and editorial pieces to both online and print publications over the past 30 years. He recently had a book of poetry published online at the Writer’s Closet and a poetic tome dedicated to Princess Diana published in print in 2002.
Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. As our present moment in history holds ties for so many to the Vietnam Era, "Asian Darkness" remembers for us. Whether you lived it as a soldier, fought it in the streets, wore a yellow ribbon, grew your hair long and smoked too much dope to care, or only heard the stories from those who did…Vietnam changed us all.