The Continual Challenge

by Joseph Murphy
Chaos comes from the Greek word Khaos, meaning "gaping void," the formless matter that preceded the existence of the universe.

It’s easy to connect this definition of chaos to one that defines the creation of a work of art, or as  
as John Cheever once noted, “Art is the triumph over chaos.”

Where does a poem or story or painting begin? From a thought? An intuition? A sensory experience, like the color of a cloud?

We writers are always faced with the “gaping void” of a blank page, as artists are with a blank canvas. Transforming that nothingness into a meaningful form is no mean feat, and often fraught with failure. The creation must appeal to others subjectively, or as Tolstoy noted: “By means of art, one transmits feelings.”

It can call for lots work, much of which will go unnoticed; often a long apprenticeship that may or may not lead to success. And it can be as much a process of destruction as of creation.

The French novelist Colette put it this way, in Casual Chance: “An author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."

But for those of us who are willing to take the journey, regardless of its prospects, art becomes interwoven into our lives; creating something meaningful from “nothing,” a continual challenge.

We hope that you will enjoy what has been created by our authors and selected for you by us for this edition.  Each in his or her own way has overcome chaos, distraction, frustration and more to create these poems, stories and nonfiction pieces for your enjoyment.

Joseph Murphy is a senior editor at Halfway Down the Stairs. For staff biographies, click here.

© 2012, Joseph Murphy