Helping Someone Else Helps Us

Shakespeare - There's a Professional
Shakespeare – There’s a Professional

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” ~ E.L. Doctorow

Today as I sit down to write this post, I’m still blurry eyed and recovering from the play performances my students did last week. I hope what I have written makes sense.

The last few months I’ve been juggling book revisions on my first novel, The Space Between Time, and teaching a theatre workshop class. That’s a class in which the students perform, and do all the tech jobs for an eventual performance before an audience. This time, we performed five student written plays which added a whole new level of complexity and creativity to our production.

When I came up with the idea to offer this class, my students had been writing their own scenes in acting class. My initial thought was to encourage them to continue to expand their creativity. I knew it was going to cut into the work I need to do on my novel. But how could I be selfish and not encourage my students?

Sometimes we do things for others because we think they need it. I’ve always struggled with doing things for others and doing what’s right for me. I took on this project knowing there would be times when I’d resent not having time to work on my book. But seeing the enthusiasm build among my students has been worth all the time spent encouraging them. After all, there really is nothing like the feeling of performing and being appreciated by an audience.

It’s been a busy semester, but I’ve remembered something very important: helping someone else be successful, helps me be successful too.

I don’t believe in accidents. Everything that happens has a cause. It’s up to us to determine how we are affected by it. I chose to teach this class, then I sent my manuscript to two writer friends just as the semester was beginning. It took longer to get the comments back from them than I thought and at first I was frustrated. It’s only been in the last week or so that I’ve had an awakening of sorts. These months that we’ve been perfecting and rehearsing these plays, I’ve had time to reflect on the comments my friends gave me about my novel. Because I haven’t had time to work on it, new ideas about how to improve my manuscript have percolated into my consciousness. I now have some great ideas of ways to improve my book even more. I must say I’m grateful that I was so busy teaching, because I’m not very good at multitasking. The big production is now finished and I have a month and a half to concentrate on book revisions.

Next semester I’ll face the same challenge because I’m offering theatre workshop again, but the joy my students feel from accomplishing such a huge task is worth every effort I expend on their behalf. Enthusiasm is building and it occurs to me that perhaps part of my reason for being is to empower my students to follow their dreams too. I look at it this way, it’s better to have a world filled with happy people doing what they love rather than to have everyone doing work they hate. So I’ll encourage as many students as I can to use their creativity as I complete my own creative work.

Thanks for reading. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday for those of you in the U.S. Feel free to leave a comment or share this post with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Snippet #3 The Space Between Time

Cochise Campus Flower
Cochise Campus Flower

This is the third installment of segments from my upcoming novel, The Space Between Time.

Set Up: Jenna has moved back to her hometown to recover and regroup. In this segment, from Chapter 7, She’s unexpectedly confronted by her ex-fiancé.

“She hadn’t been out of the house much since the funeral. No doubt on this little trip she’d run into old friends, and renew acquaintances. It was still difficult receiving condolences, but being cooped up in the house all the time wasn’t good. She grabbed her purse and keys, opened the door and ran into Sam.

“Hi Babe.”

Jenna’s stomach clenched, “Sam. What in the hell are you doing here?”

Leaning on the door jamb so she couldn’t get out of the house, he said. “You hung up on me, Babe. I needed a chance to explain,” Jenna wasn’t fooled by the look of mock contrition on his face.

“About what? That you were cheating on me? And don’t call me Babe.” She pushed him out of the way. Then shut and locked the door. She brushed past him starting for her car wishing this encounter would soon end. But Sam’s car was parked behind hers. She’d have to deal with him.

Knowing he’d trapped her, he smirked. “I always call you Babe.”

Jenna turned, walked back to him and put her face close to his. “I’ve told you time and again I don’t like it when you call me that.”

Surprisingly he took a step back. “I don’t remember that.”

“Of course not, because you never listen,” Jenna said through clenched teeth.

“Now, Babe,” The look on Jenna’s face made him amend his approach. “I mean Jenna, aren’t you gonna let me talk to you?”

Oh, if only he’d go away. Keeping her eyes on his face and putting her hands on her hips, she said, “What for? You said it yourself. Neither one of us was happy, so it’s over.”

Pulling himself taller to pretend confidence, he said, “I know I said that, but, I’ve been thinking. I might’ve been wrong.” He had that I’m-innocent-of-whatever-you-think-I’ve-done look on his face she’d learned to hate long before the break-up.

She looked at him, trying to formulate the response that would make him leave. The moments slowed. For the first time she noticed muddy waves emanating from and surrounding his body. Her instinct was to back away from the unwanted onslaught of his murky energy, but before she could do so, it touched her own energy field. She nearly fell over as dark feelings of self-doubt swept over her. The image of a wounded wolf flashed through her mind. Somehow she knew exactly what had happened that brought him to her doorstep. “Ah, what happened, Sam? Did she leave you? I know you hate to be alone.”

The dark energy was sucked into Sam’s body and he stuttered “I – I don’t k-know what you’re talking about. There’s never been anybody but you.”

“Oh? But, you know I heard her in the background when we talked on the phone!” She faced him square on, “Now, please get in your car and go back to L.A.”

Suddenly Sam took Jenna by the arm, and clamped down hard, “It was a one night stand thing. I was hurt that we broke up.” Dark gray and brown energy shot out at her again. This time she thought to shield herself and her own aura in red, orange, and yellow shot out to block what was coming from him.

Gasping from the pain, she tried to get her arm free. “You were hurt? Oh, yeah, I see that now. You’ve been wounded from the very beginning, but I was too dazzled by the bling to notice. Now let me go!” They struggled. Sam grabbed for Jenna’s other arm. She tried to back away, and slid on a mossy patch on the sidewalk forcing her to sit on a porch step.

Just then an unmarked police car drove up. Sam’s back was to it as Detective Spade got out of the car, putting his hand on his gun.

Walking toward the struggling pair, Detective Spade said, “Let go of her, Sir!”

Sam turned around, still holding onto Jenna’s arm. “Who are you to interfere in a private matter? She’s my fiancée,” Sam said as Jenna continued to struggle to get her arm free.

Advancing on Sam with his hand still on his gun, Detective Spade said, “That’s not what I heard, Sir. Now back away from her.”

Sam puffed up like a rooster in the ring, but he let go of her arm. Jenna moved away. Sam turned toward Detective Spade saying, “What you gonna do, shoot me?” Jenna heard the fear underneath the bluster for the first time. With a snarl, Sam said, “We’re having a private conversation. That’s all.”

Detective Spade had stopped a few feet from Sam. “It didn’t look that way to me, Sir. Is that true Miss Holden?”

“Miss Holden? So, you’ve met before. Who is this? Your new boyfriend? You didn’t waste any time,” Sam said with a sneer.

Detective Spade was surrounded by a clear yellow and green aura. He was relaxed, though cautious. Jenna knew she could trust him, but Sam was getting angry. She saw the wounded wolf image surrounded by dark gray and muddy brown fog emanating from him again, and knew if she didn’t do something he’d become dangerous. She saw that Detective Spade knew it too.

She took a few steps closer to him. “Sam, are you drunk or something? He’s a police officer, and he’s got a gun. Do you want to get arrested? What’ll that do to your precious career?” Sam’s countenance changed, and the swirls of muddy energy retreated close to his body.

Now that she looked more closely at him, Sam did look a little unsteady on his feet. She hadn’t smelled alcohol on him, though, so it must be drugs.

Taking a deep breath, Sam said. “I’ve been on the road for twenty hours with not much sleep before that. I guess I’m crashing from the wake-up pills,” he said as he sat abruptly onto a porch step.

Taking his hand away from his gun, Detective Spade gently took a hold of Jenna’s arm and moved her behind him. “I’ll need to see those pills, Sir. Are they in your car?”

“Yeah, go ahead. You won’t find any drugs. They’re the over the counter kind,” Sam said as he ran his hands through his hair, then deflated like a balloon and rested his head on his arms.

“Sir, is the car unlocked?”

“Yeah,” came the muffled reply.

Detective Spade looked over at Jenna and indicated with the jerk of his head to follow him as he went to Sam’s car. He kept his eyes on Sam. She opened the driver’s door and moved back so Detective Spade could investigate. He’d put on latex gloves, pulled the trunk release, then examined the open briefcase that sat on the passenger seat. The pills were in the briefcase. After searching the car and trunk, he approached Sam. “You’re telling the truth, at least. Did you read the instructions, you’ve got to be careful not to take too many of these things. How many did you take?”

Not lifting his head, Sam said, “I don’t know, one or two whenever I got tired.”

“Just as a precaution, I’m going to take you to emergency to get you checked out.” Detective Spade took Sam by the arm and led him to the police car. Miraculously, Sam didn’t object. Putting Sam in the front seat, he turned to Jenna. “Is it okay if we leave his car here?”

“Sure, I’ll move it. I was on my way out. Does he have his wallet?”

“I got the wallet out of his briefcase. The keys are in the ignition. Do you want me to make sure he doesn’t bother you when he comes back for his car?”

The adrenaline was beginning to wear off and Jenna was feeling shaky. She tried to lighten the atmosphere by saying, “Feeling protective, Detective?”

“It’s my job, Ma’am,” His handsome face lit up in a big smile.

Smiling back, Jenna said, “I’m much obliged to you, Sir, but I think I’ll be fine.” Then breaking the spell of their moment, she said, “Say, why did you come?”

Sounding disappointed, he said, “Oh, I came by to tell you you can pick up the things we found in your mother’s car. Just come by the station anytime and sign for them.”

“Oh, I thought maybe one of the neighbors called the police.”

“No. I was in the neighborhood, and thought I’d stop by.”

The look on his face made Jenna think there was more to it than just a friendly call, but she let it go. “I see.”

Looking at his rugged face, a tingling sensation started at the top of her head and moved down. Ripples of clear lavender, yellow and green energy swirled around him. She felt safe. Even so there was an awkward moment as if they each had something they wanted to say. Sam broke the spell by yelling something incoherent. She looked over at him. Detective Spade turned toward the car with reluctance. Jenna said. “I know he’s a jerk, but thanks for taking him to the doctor. You don’t have to stay with him do you?”

“No, he hasn’t committed a crime … yet.”

Jenna laughed. “No, he’s not the type. He’s insecure, but also very ambitious. I don’t think he’d do anything to harm his precious career.”

Detective Spade looked back at Sam leaning his head back against the head rest. “He doesn’t look too tough right now.”

Laughing, Jenna said, “No, he doesn’t. Will tomorrow be okay to stop by the station? I’ve got an appointment with Jim Marshall at the paper. I could come by after that.”

Smiling, Detective Spade said, “That’d be fine. I should be there most of the day.”

“Great. I’ll see you then. And thanks for the rescue, Detective.”

“My pleasure, Ma’am.” Detective Spade tipped his nonexistent hat and got into his car and waved as he drove off with a wilted looking Sam in the front seat.

She moved Sam’’s car then left on her errand.”

There is a scene between these two segments, but for the purposes of this post I cut it.

“When Jenna got back to the house, Sam was leaning on his car. Jenna still had the keys. Her heart sank. This wasn’t over. As she got out of the car, Sam came up the drive. “What’d you do, break bail?” Jenna asked.

“You’re boyfriend got me checked out right away. There wasn’t anyone in the waiting room. All I need is some sleep. Can I crash here?” Sam put that, aren’t I irresistible, look on his face that Jenna hated so much.

“Nope. There are some nice hotels downtown, or you can find a motel out by I-5.”

He frowned. That look usually melted women. “So, I’m not yet forgiven.”

Jenna rounded on Sam and poked him in the chest as she backed him toward his car. “Not even close. But even if you were, I still wouldn’t let you stay here. You cheated on me! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past couple of weeks. I let you walk all over me because I thought we loved each other, and that’s what I was supposed to do. Now I see things differently. I deserve better, someone who knows who he is and loves me just because I’m me.”

Jenna was surprised that Sam was letting her poke him without fighting back. Maybe meeting Detective Spade made him cautious. He looked around to see if any of the neighbors were watching. Jenna jabbed him three times as she said, “That’s not you. Now, get out of here.” Sam started to interrupt, but Jenna cut him off. “No! It’s over! Now I’ve got work to do, so you can just take your keys,” she put them into his hand with a slap.  “Get yourself back to L.A, and may you be happy there.”

Sam just looked at Jenna for a second, then twirling the keys, his expression changed back to his usual expression of self-absorption. “You’re a bitch! You’re blaming me for everything. I don’t know what I ever saw in you. You’re pathetic. I hope you’re happy with your sad little life and your cop boyfriend. I’m off to bigger and better things. You’d only drag me down, BABE!” He got into his car and screeched off, leaving the smell of a burned up relationship, cremated into vapor.”

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Snippet #2 The Space Between Time

August Sunset
August Sunset

No quotes today since this post is long.

Today I’ll share a segment from Chapter 4 of The Space BetweenTime, the novel I’m currently working on. Jenna has merged with Morgan’s consciousness a second time. It is early spring, 1859. This is the day of Morgan’s father, Thomas’, funeral. In this scene, Morgan is facing her Aunt Veronica who has always tried to control her life. Now that Morgan is an orphan, her aunt thinks she can gain the upper hand once and for all but Morgan stands up to her.

For those who didn’t get to read last week’s segment, Jenna has found Morgan’s journals and when she reads, she merges with Morgan’s consciousness.

“So, you and your father decided to deceive me,” Veronica said with malice. “How do you think this will look when my friends back in Boston hear that you did not tell me of Thomas illness? Don’t you think I had a right to know? After all, I am family.”

Morgan felt a shiver run down her spine. Jenna understood very well how she felt. It had been the same for her when interacting with Fletcher and Mr. Dayton, but they weren’t family, and she didn’t have to associate with them any longer.

Morgan squared her shoulders. “Father wanted to be left in peace. He and I wanted to spend what time we had together uninterrupted by fussing nurses, which you no doubt would have insisted upon. We didn’t want that.”

“Your father never knew what was best for you. I’m sure he did this to spite me because I wanted to take you away when your mother died to give you every advantage he couldn’t.”

“Aunt Veronica, father was a good and kind man who loved me very deeply. He knew that I’d be just another bobble for you to polish and have admired as your crowning achievement.”

At this statement Veronica bristled and lost control of herself. “Morgan, you are too independent by half. I see now that your father has taught you too much and not had a thought for your future. If he’d cared about you, he never would have raised you to think like a man nor would he have involved you in this underground railroad nonsense.”

Morgan gasped. How had her aunt found out about that?

A malicious smile spread across Veronica’s face. “Ah, you’re surprised I knew about that. Your father exposed you to filthy, shiftless slaves who ran away shirking their duty to their masters. Any number of terrible things could have happened to you because of your father’s thoughtlessness. I intend to change your foolish notions by taking you back to Boston with me and see that you’re properly looked after by marrying the right sort of man. I will brook no refusals. You’re not getting any younger, you know. Go upstairs this instant and pack your things. We’re leaving on the evening train.”

Deep calm swept over Morgan, as she spoke softly to her aunt. “No, Aunt Veronica. I am not going with you.”

“How dare you refuse! You have no other relatives and no money to support yourself. No one to protect you if you get caught helping slaves. You must do as I say.”

“You’re wrong. Father has saved some money and there is also the money left me by mother. There is quite enough for me to live on until I decide how to support myself. If you don’t believe me, I can send for Mr. Bachman, father’s lawyer. He’s staying at the hotel.” Morgan stood looking at her aunt in defiance with an emotionless face waiting for her aunt’s reply. Emma, Mrs. Waller and Mrs. Carlsen came into the hallway to lend their support, though once they got there they realized they weren’t needed.

Veronica’s mouth was gaping open uncharacteristically. She’d thought it’d be easy to manipulate Morgan into doing as she dictated. She hadn’t made a plan for Morgan’s removal except to order her to pack her things and get her to Boston as quickly as possible.

She looked over and saw the three women stepping forward behind Morgan. “This is a family matter, ladies,” she said with a snarl of derision accompanied by the most withering look she could muster.

Mrs. Carlsen, who had not grown up in Rutland, broke the strained silence. “Mrs. Alistair, I’m new here, but I can tell you, you’ll not find anyone to take your side. If you try to force Morgan to go with you, we’ll stand in your way. We love her, as it is obvious you do not. She’s of age and will remain here to make up her own mind about her future.”

Just then there was a knock on the door. Emma went to answer it. When she came back, Dr. Waller, Mr. Bachman and Reverend Carlsen were with her.

Mr. Bachman, a short, portly, middle aged, well dressed gentleman, stepped forward. “Hello Madam. I’m Mr. Gregor Bachman, Mr. Carlyle’s lawyer. I’m very pleased to meet you. Your husband is quite well thought of in Boston.” He came forward extending his hand. Veronica looked at it as if it were a snake coiling in the grass. Mr. Bachman went on as if the snub had not happened. “I’ve got Mr. Carlyle’s will here. He wanted me to read it in your presence as you are mentioned. Shall we sit down?” He extended his hand to the sofa. Veronica, too dumbfounded to object, took the few steps to the sofa and plopped down as her knees gave out. “Please everyone, gather around. Reverend Carlyle wanted you all to be here.” Dr. Waller and Reverend Carlsen brought chairs from the kitchen table. Morgan sat in her father’s chair with Emma by her side. Mrs. Waller sat in a chair provided by her husband as did Mrs. Carlsen. The two men remained standing. Mr. Bachman took up a place near the table, opening his briefcase. He withdrew the will, which was backed with blue paper, and sat next to Morgan in what had been her chair. No one sat near Veronica.

“The will is short and to the point.” Clearing his throat, Mr. Bachman read, “I, Thomas Wendell Carlyle, being of sound mind, do hereby bequeath to my dear friend Dr. Joseph Waller the chess set that he so admired as we often played together. Thank you Joseph for sharing your wisdom with me over the years. I also bequeath the sum of $100.00 to you, Joseph …” Veronica took in a quick breath, which no one acknowledged, while Mr. Bachman continued on without missing a beat, “for you do not charge enough, and can use the money to support your family. To Reverend Martin Carlsen, I leave my concordance and other books pertaining to biblical criticism and church ministry. I also leave you the sum of $50.00 for the support of your family. In the few short months you’ve been here, I’ve seen that you are a wise man. You have given me good counsel. I know the congregation is in good hands. To Miss Emma Martell, I leave the cameo brooch that belonged to my dear wife. On her death bed she asked me to give it to you on your wedding day. Since I won’t be able to give it then, I leave it for you now. She said you had admired it, and since Morgan did not have an affinity for it herself, she wanted to give it to you, Morgan’s dear and devoted friend.

“To my dearest daughter Morgan Angela Carlyle, I leave all monies in my savings account, the rights to all the books I’ve written, and any future royalties they shall receive. I also leave you the remainder of my books, furniture, household goods, and the jewelry left by your mother upon her passing. In addition, I leave the small amount of money she left for you upon her death. Words can not say how much I have cherished being your father. I’ve watched you grow in wisdom and beauty. You are an intelligent and loving woman. I leave these things with all my love.

“Finally, to Veronica Masters Alistair, I leave you the rope of pearls left to my dear wife by your mother upon her death. The rope of pearls you wanted so desperately that you cut off all relations with my wife, your sister, because your mother did not give them to you. The pearls are yours now. I have taken legal steps to insure that you will not get anything else, nor be able to interfere with Morgan’s future. Take the pearls, and may they make you as happy as you thought possessing them would. Signed this day, December 30, 1858.”

Mr. Bachman folded the will and slowly placed it in its envelope and gave it to Morgan. No one moved, each alone with his or her thoughts. After a few moments. Veronica rose, breaking the spell and said with venom dripping from every word, “This is not over. You are a young single woman. You can’t inherit any amount of money. I’ll be back with my attorney.” She looked at Morgan with a cold stare and walked out of the room to get her own hat, coat and gloves. A moment later the door slammed shaking the windows.

Again, this is a work in progress. I hope you have enjoyed reading another small section of my novel. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-MIdgorden © 2015

First Snippets from My Novel

Daffodils serenading the sun.
Daffodils serenading the sun.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” ~ Rumi

The above quote opens my novel, The Space Between Time. You might say it’s a theme of the book. Below is a very short segment from Chapter 3.

The Set-up: Jenna has had a life shattering week. She’s gone back to her childhood home to recover and regroup. This is a portion of the scene where she finds her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan’s, journals begins to read and starts an extraordinary journey of discovery.

“Just then Jenna felt a rush of energy swirl around her. As she looked at the attic walls trying to determine what was happening, fog obscured her vision. She felt as if she were shedding her body like she would a cloak. Within the span between breaths the scene changed in front of her and she found herself sitting in a rocking chair looking out at an early spring afternoon just like the one Morgan had described. Something about the atmosphere was different than her home – more than that, it smelled different. Wood smoke instead of gas fumes permeated the air.

She looked down at the hands that were resting on a sketch pad. They were not her hands, nor were the clothes hers. She was wearing a dress that she thought was from the Civil War era. After a few gut wrenching moments, Jenna realized she was not only in Morgan’s world, she was sharing Morgan’s consciousness.

Panic overtook her, and she hyperventilated, or she would have had she been in her own body. This was far different than seeing the spirits of her parents, or reading a bunch of old journals. I’m going to get stuck here! How do I get back? The moment she thought that, Jenna felt the grief that was washing over Morgan. Grief – that was something she could related to. As Morgan took a deep breath, calm settled on Jenna. As crazy as it seemed, somehow she felt she was going to be all right. Okay, I’ll just go with it. I can panic later. What else could she do but trust? Hard as it was to admit, that was something Jenna didn’t know how to do well. Her mind merged again with Morgan’s.

She, they, were sitting facing the window of Morgan’s father’s room, a forgotten sketch pad on Morgan’s lap with a half finished sketch of Morgan’s father, and the greening mountains beyond. The apple tree just outside the window dripped with leaf buds. The daffodils she, they had planted near the front gate serenaded the sun. It was warm. Children laughed and played on their way home from school. The ice wagon rolled by hurrying to finish the day’s deliveries. Across the lane Mrs. Gardener gossiped with Mrs. Webb about the new dry goods shop owner. Their voices were audible inside the sickroom.

Mrs. Gardner said, “I have it on good authority that Mr Krause’s wife left him. He moved to Rutland to start a new life and forget. It’s too bad that the truth came out. He seems like such a nice man.”

“Why should it make a difference?” asked Mrs. Webb. “She’s the one who left.”

“Well who can tell, maybe he beat her,” said Mrs. Gardner.

“We don’t know the whole truth of the matter, Gladys. So don’t spread that rumor,” said Mrs. Webb.

Bird song followed the women’s voices. The afternoon light streamed in the window illuminating the white curtains and bouncing off the mirror on the dressing table. The room glowed with warmth and light. Jenna saw it all while at the same time experiencing everything as if she were part of Morgan. It was a disquieting sensation. The charms of the spring day could not entice Morgan away from her grief. Jenna recognized those feelings. She’d felt the same way when her mother lay motionless on her hospital bed.

Looking at Morgan’s father, Jenna saw the same signs of life leaving his body that she’d seen in her mother that night only a couple of weeks ago. Fully in the past with Morgan now, Jenna shared her pain and tried to give comfort.

Thomas lay sleeping fitfully. The pain was worse each day and sleep eluded him most of the time. That morning the doctor, seeing Morgan’s strained and weary face, had given Thomas a large dose of laudanum to help him sleep and instructed her to increase the dose when he stirred. There was nothing else that could be done for him. This was the end and Morgan knew it.”

This little segment gives you an idea of the basic premise of the book. Jenna shifts between dealing with the challenges of her own life, while periodically visiting Morgan’s. Both women face difficult challenges and help each other along the way.

I’ll share another segment next week.

Remember this is a work in progress. Thanks for reading. Make a comment if you like and feel free to share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015