My trips back to New Hampshire always seem to disappear in a time warp. Last week, upon arriving in Manchester, the skies were overcast and I drove through spot showers on the way to Newport. I believe there were even a few stray snowflakes. Yes, sometimes winter lingers into May in the Granite State.
Once in my hometown, I had to stop for the essentials. At Coronis Market, I purchased two ham and cheese grinders that I've been eating since I was a young child. They still taste the same. I also purchased a six pack of one of my favorite beers that I can't get in Florida. The Shed Brewery Mountain Ale is a brown ale from Vermont and is only regionally distributed. To cap off my order, I grabbed a whoopie pie. Again, this is a delicious dessert that I don't find on every corner in Florida, like I can when in New Hampshire. As you can tell, my diet went out the window in less than two hours after my plane landed.
I was going to make a few social stops on this Tuesday afternoon, but after a 2:30am alarm to catch a flight out of Tampa, I was fading fast. I was off to Claremont where I would lodge at my mother's house for the duration of my trip.
For a couple of days, I stopped in to visit with family and friends, and at more of my favorite eateries like Ramunto's in Claremont, and the Country Kitchen and Salt hill Pub in Newport. There's nothing extraordinary about any of these restaurants aside from consistency and a service that you'd expect from small town venues where you'll always bump into someone you know.
The next two days were the reason for the trip, writing workshops at the Richards Free Library and readings with fellow writers of the Newport Natives Writers Group. Attendance for the workshops was wonderful. Attendees included several students from area schools. The creative minds of the youth of Newport is promising. Our group of writers all presented workshops that prompted writing on the spot. The interaction to discuss the works created during the workshops lead to positive feedback and exceptional discussions regarding all aspects of the writing and publishing world.
This was the first reading that I had done outside of small writing groups. We had in attendance for the evening readings at the Library Art Center many local residents, former teachers, and family. Readings were given by Matthew Guenette, a poet, Derek Catsam, a writer of non-fiction, Christine Almstrom, a writer of children's stories and an illustrator, and Susan Cunningham, a fantasy writer. Or, to break it down in small town terms - two classmates, a new friend, and family. The team at the library were exceptional hosts. As a group of writers, we couldn't be happier to finish our visit with an abundance of positive feedback from all those that attended.
I'm always thankful for the time I get to spend in my hometown. My relocation to Florida was nothing against The Sunshine Town, but more a need for the heat of The Sunshine State. As I write this blog entry, the temperature outside is 96 degrees. Most of my Northern friends would curse that it's too hot. For me, it's just right. And, it's always just right when I go home. I sometimes need to add a few layers to get it just right.
I love to travel. I love craft beer. I love donuts. Sounds like three ingredients for a new book concept. As of this blog post, there are 17 states that I haven't visited. I'd like to knock off at least 8 more this summer. Very doable since I already have a vacation scheduled that takes me to six states.
As I looked at a map of the United States the other day, I thought to myself that it would be an awesome road trip to drive the perimeter of the continental US. From my home base in Florida, across the southern border to the Pacific Ocean, north to Washington, turning east across the northern border, through the Great Lakes and onward to the Atlantic Ocean at Maine's eastern most point. Turning back south through Boston to Cape May in New Jersey and then crossing the Chesapeake Bay before setting my sights on Key West, FL, then returning to the Gulf Coast, I'd complete a drive of over 10,000 miles in a month, or less.
But, aside from saying I've been to a few more states, what is the purpose of this trip. I can say I set a goal and I completed it. Cool, but not enough. I can journal my experiences on the road. Sweet, I love writing. I can turn my journal into a memoir. Yes, but what makes it different from other travel memoirs aside from the fact that I've never heard of anyone making this "perimeter" trip? What do I like and have fun doing. I love photography. I love craft beer and the stories behind each unique brew. I love donuts. That's it, I'll shoot and write about The Longest Beer & Donut Run in History. I'll document brewery and donut shop stops, meet the masters behind the flavors, and share the sweet stories in a book.
Isn't it interesting how the mind of a writer works? From eating donuts and drinking craft beer to a road trip of over 10,000 miles. I still have much planning to do and funds to raise, but come September, I'd like to be on the road to new places and new tastes. Stay tuned!
Just over a week from today, I'll return to "The Sunshine Town" of Newport. New Hampshire - my hometown. I'll be joining other writers, the Newport Native Writers Group, for two days of writing workshops, readings, and Q&A sessions.
I always look forward to going home, except for in the winter months. I have family in the area, friends that I typically only see at class reunions, and there are familiar sights and foods that simply bring a comfort to my soul. There will be breakfast at the Country Kitchen, a Village Special at Village Pizza, and cold beer at Salt hill Pub. My daily workout won't be at the gym, instead taking my steps to Main Street, Small Town USA and maybe a few laps around the high school track. There will be time set aside for reflection on a bench, or on the steps on the gazebo, on the Town Common. In all of these places, there will be storylines continuing to develop in my head for current and future works-in-progress.
I hope the sun will actually shine as I know this time of year brings many showers to The Sunshine Town. I'll be returning to jeans. shoes, and a light jacket instead of the shorts and sandals that have become much more to my liking. I'll be ribbed as I shiver if the temperatures are less than 70 degrees, "That Southern weather is making you soft." I'll laugh and say, "Come enjoy the heat during the Florida summer days." We'll see who's soft and call it a draw.
If you are in Newport on May 11th & 12th, join me and other native writers at the Richards Free Library. We'll share stories and laughs. If you want to join a workshop, register here.
It's been a while sine I've shared any first drafts with you all. My apologies, between a busy Spring with graphic design services and efforts to complete my first collection of poetry, and a chapbook, I've fallen behind on my website updates. Here's hoping that this new blog entry changes that as I move forward. Without further ado, here a few micro-poems that I've written over the past month.
Resist by Robert Stanhope
and, you too,
I Fall for Autumn by Robert Stanhope
The shining colors
of Autumn's leaves
seduce me home.
Word Therapy by Robert Stanhope
I believe I've written through the pain, my pen no longer bleeds to the page.
Falling In Love by Robert Stanhope
You can't fall in love without taking a risk with two hearts.
Emotional Deliveries by Robert Stanhope
Flowers were delicately placed
into a slender vase,
taking great care to preserve
the emotions clinging to each soft petal.
Outside my front door is a flower in bloom,
beyond bloom really,
the other side of middle age,
soon to be replaced by youth,
a new bloom,
a bright and vibrant bloom.
Does size matter,
little hands, big hands,
our eyes seeing images,
porn of filthy politics,
abusing the issues,
a debate of rookies,
not master debaters?
Can we overlook
the abuser, the fornicator,
the pussy grabbing
by a lion, or a sheep,
a schemer, a dreamer,
a party traitor?
Will we vote for evil,
the lesser of the two,
the one least detested,
the politician or the outsider,
the rich, or the rich,
a third party snub,
or a seat on the couch?
Is the election a fraud,
a scam, a hoax, a betrayal,
a broken democracy,
a foreign state or
or growing pains
of an infant nation?
One of my most vivid memories, one that makes me tear up every time, is the day you were born. You see, we bonded from that very moment you opened your eyes, you took my breath away and locked onto my heart forever. I smiled and held your hand, and a nurse looked at me and said, "Oh my, she's definitely a Daddy's Girl." She was right.
We've shared laughs and we've shared tears, happy times, sad times, and differences of opinions. Through it all, I've given you space to grow, to learn, to struggle, to fail. But, no matter what, you've always known that I'm here for you. Here to listen, here for a hug, here for a shoulder to cry on, here to give you advice, and if you need it, here for shelter, to reset, to focus again on those days of happiness that you know are there, at your fingertips.
I know that you never want more than happiness and perhaps that's because I've preached for years that happiness is all that matters. When you are happy, I see your heart shine, I feel it. I've always seen that beacon in you, casting light in the night, protecting those you love, yet not always thinking about the light that should shine on you. I raised you not to be selfish, to share happiness and love, to give more than you take. You have always done exactly that.
Now that I have more experience as a Dad since that morning you were born, and you have grown to be a beautiful lady, adulting, giving your life every effort to be happy, I want you to be selfish for just a little while. I want you to look in the mirror and smile. I want you to wear that smile, to share it, to be contagious, to spread the joy of life. I want you to live your dreams and to be loved by those of us that share your dreams.
I want you to laugh and sing like we did that one summer afternoon on the way to the beach. Man, we nailed it that day! I want you to experience the freedom you felt when I pushed you on a swing and you dropped your head back and your blonde haired flowed in the wind. I want you to walk tall with pride like I saw you do each and every time you took to the mats in cheerleading and shout to the world that you are confident and that there's no challenge that can stop you.
Most of all, I just want to continue to share the relationship we have, the one where you can call me and we can talk about anything, or nothing, but I'll be happy to hear from you and you from me. I want to continue that relationship where I miss you every day and I think about the next time we'll get a chance to share a meal, or sit on the couch and binge watch some show I have no interest in, but because you are next to me, I'll be happy because you'll be happy, or we get back in that car for an encore performance to the beach.
You see my daughter, life is about singing and listening to the music the world has to offer. It's our life song and it plays now and it plays forever. Each day, we must dance to this song, and if you get tired, know that you can always dance on my toes, and I'll carry us both to the melody that hasn't stopped since the day that you came into my world as my baby girl.
Music City, you sing to me,
serenade me with a melody,
your streets alive with dreams.
There's a brightness shining
from your dingy honkeytonks,
Tips overflowing a tin bucket.
Heartbreak has it's own star,
burned out in a styrofoam cup
on a hot and steamy sidewalk.
I'm a sucker for your ebb and flow,
your waves of salty emotion,
sending me home to reflect my life song.
There are several daily writing prompts offered by talented writers on Twitter. I participate in these writing exercises to keep my writing skills sharp and to help prevent a block from setting into my production. Search these hashtags for writing prompts: #musemon #2bittues #1linewed #thurds
There are more prompts during the week, but those listed above have done the trick for me. The prompts are listed in order, Monday through Thursday. I have provided samples of my work below, based on writing prompts from the past week.
PROMPT: Spell or mine
My tweet: I'm going to sit for a spell to consider what is yours and what is mine. Observe, for when I'm done, so are you.
Saying goodbye to the storm,
The dark clouds & thunder,
The cold & pouring rain,
I'll weather better without her.
PROMPT: Thank, Thank you, or Thanks
Thanks to a rising sun,
Brightness will fill our day,
A blessing we often overlook.
"Mom, I want to die."
"Tommy, please don't talk like that."
"The peace I will know is greater than the suffering I'm enduring."
This dialogue is from a work in progress. #Thurds allows you to link to the story, completed or a work in progress.
Each tweet must fit the number of characters allowed by Twitter. You'll also want to include the hashtag for the day within the tweet. This allows others to find your work in a search and to read along.
It has been a while since I've made an entry on this blog, but that doesn't mean that I'm not writing. Learn what projects I'm working on, and when you can start reading my first release, in the interview.
Robert Stanhope started creative writing during his Junior year of high school. In his twenties, he became a motorsports journalist and was published in a number of local, regional, and national trade publications. Now in his early 40s, Bob has returned to creatively writing, including embarking on his first novel, The Last Lie.