Questions I’ve Had for a Long Time

Hypatia, Greek Alexandrian Philosopher

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” ~ Jane Austen, Persuasion

“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.” ~ Muhammad Ali Jinnah

“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“These days, however, I am much calmer – since I realized that it’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail – giving daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I bet it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges.” ~ Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman

As I woke up this morning I was thinking about my new novel, Time’s Echo, with the main theme of women fighting for their rights. Then I saw the new Time cover with “Person of the Year”, which this year is actually all The Silence Breakers. The cover has several women on it who have blown the whistle on how men in power abused them. I gave a little cheer, as I do every time a woman speaks up and people believe her.

Those two things brought up lots of old questions that I’ve been asking since I was harassed for choosing religious studies as my major forty-one years ago. I wanted to know then, and I still want to know, what makes men think they have the right to tell me what to do with my life? And that’s just one little part of my internal feud with the male dominated societies we live in.

It’s not just men, of course, who want to make themselves feel more secure by trying to control their outer world. We all do it and I don’t understand why. Well, that’s not exactly true. I do understand why we do it. We do it because we’re afraid, and because it’s easier to blame something or someone outside ourselves than to do the work necessary to make a real and lasting change in ourselves. Some people think it’s just too much work.

But, at what point did we assume that we know what is best for other people and try to get them to live their lives as we would prescribe?

Maybe it’s a silly exercise, but for some reason I feel like I can’t go on with my book until I can pinpoint the moment we, as a species, went off the rails. My ultimate goal for Time’s Echo is to not only write about what is wrong with female/male relationships, but to suggest some solutions as well. I know – it’s just a novel. But for some reason I can’t proceed until I can offer some hope.

In my imagination I go back to the beginning of the human race and see women taking roles that their brains are programed to perform, and men doing the same thing. Men and women worked as a team. But then something happened and men decided that they needed to take over and control everything including women. What made women agree to this clearly unhealthy and detrimental situation?

I’m only an amateur student of history and brain research, but even I can see that men’s and women’s brains work differently. (See, Men are Mars, Women are from Venus for a clue.) I don’t need to enumerate those differences that have been coming to light over the last century or so. But this is what I think might have happened. Women were so busy taking care of the children, managing everyday tasks like, foraging for edible and medicinal plants, cooking, making a home and clothing, taking care of the children, and tending the sick and wounded, that they allowed men to take on the more aggressive tasks of brining home food from the hunt, building homes and community structures, and protecting the family group. Over time somehow men thought their tasks were more important. I mean their brains were wired for conflict and protection which in my mind, naturally led to possession. Maybe women were too busy to notice this subtle shift from team player to dominator until it was too late. And women being decidedly less aggressive, allowed men to take on this new role. But I can also imagine that ancient women might have looked on this new kind of man, as immature. “Oh, they’ll grow up soon and we’ll be able to be full partners again.” Meanwhile the drive to produce children was strong in both men and women, so an uneasy alliance was formed. That was many, many centuries ago. Women are still waiting for men to grow up.

Not long ago I turned on the TV and the DVR was set to my favorite station, TCM. A movie was in progress. A husband and wife were having a discussion. The wife was packing to leave. The husband said, “I don’t understand. Why are you leaving?” To which the wife replied, “Oh, Bob, what a child you are.” Bob’s response is the part that made me stop what I was doing and get info on the movie. He said, “Of course, I am. All men are children. They like to play and chase toy balloons.” The name of the movie is Madam Satan (1930), a title I hate, by the way. But that little bit of dialogue made something click in my head. Women want true partners not only in marriage but in all aspects of life, but sometimes don’t find them. They marry little boys who are chasing balloons, and other bits of fun, which makes them too busy to be true partners. It happens that way in business too. And in those situations, women are left to pick up the pieces.

I don’t want you think that I hate men. I was raised by an amazing father who was mature, loving, responsible, respectful, and who understood human nature. I was also fortunate to be surrounded by other great men. I married one. These men gave me hope that one day, the child/men were going to finally grow up. Thankfully, we’re finally seeing it happen.

Men have ruled the world for centuries, but I can’t put all the blame on them. For whatever reason, we women have allowed this situation to be perpetuated. And our efforts to gain some measure of autonomy has twisted us in weird ways. I’m writing in generalities here, which is always dangerous, but nevertheless, I believe my observations to be accurate for at least some women. We women became expert manipulators. We learned how to make men think they came up with some great ideas, in other words the “woman behind the man” concept. We have become competitive with each other over the “best” men, or life situation. We’ve hidden our intelligence. We’ve allowed men to use and abuse us to maintain security, all of which has shattered our collective feelings of self-worth. Of course, there have been women who have not allowed men to dominate their ambitions, or take away their power. They stand out as fantastic examples for the rest of us. I think those women helped the rest of us wake up to all the possibilities we have been missing out on.

Thank heaven there is now a definite change in long held attitudes. It’s going to take us a very long time to unravel our old ways of thinking and discover new ways to relate to each other.

But this is what I’d like to see happen from this day forward: More cooperation and less competition between men and women in government, business, and all aspects of society. I want more women in leadership positions so we can have discussions about how to come up with real solutions to all of our world problems. I want every person to have a roof over their heads, food on the table, education, access to health care, and a job they can be proud of. I want us to respect each other. Making that dream come true probably won’t happen in my lifetime. That doesn’t matter. I’ll keep hoping, writing, and working for that outcome anyway.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Advertisements

Movies That Imitate Life

Charles Dickens

“The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.” ~ Charles Dickens

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” ~ Charles Dickens

Last Sunday my husband and I drove two hours to Tucson to see The Man Who Invented Christmas. I don’t know why the local theaters weren’t showing it, but we were determined to watch this movie that I am sure will become a holiday classic since it is about how Charles Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. My favorite scenes all have to do with how Dickens found inspiration in everyday encounters.

In the movie, his last three books have flopped. He’s strapped for money and needs a hit, but he doesn’t have a wisp of an idea. Then one night he overhears the new Irish maid telling his children stories about how on Christmas eve, the veil between our world and that of the spirits is thin enough to allow them to slip through to our side. That sets Dickens’ imagination whirling and the idea of new story is born.

After that Dickens picks up bits of real dialogue, he meets people who inspire characters, and he comes upon situations that inspire events for his novel. But the most intriguing element of the movie is how Dickens and the characters talk to each other. As Dickens is trying to finish the last chapter, he wants to leave Scrooge as an unrepentant miser. His characters “won’t do what I want them to.” They rebel. They keep telling him that Scrooge can be redeemed. Even his Irish maid tells him that the end of the book needs to be hopeful. That’s when we get a glimpse into Dickens’ childhood and how his life inspired his stories and activism on behalf of the poor.

His father was an upper class working man, but he had no idea how to manage money, and so was arrested and put into debtors prison, along with his family. Charles, however, was forced to work in a boot blacking factory at the age of twelve. The conditions in the factory were harsh and Dickens never forgot what it was like to lose everything and be treated as if he were a commodity. So, as he’s writing A Christmas Carol, he must face the fact that he has never forgiven his father for that humiliation.

I know that every author has their own method and personal viewpoint. Charles Dickens wrote his books in serial form, changing his characters and plots as he heard his friends and readers talk about the latest installment. However, he started with a firm beginning middle and end in mind. And because of his childhood experiences, almost all of his books had to do with the inequity between the rich and poor.

Sometimes I wish I was more like Dickens. When I began writing The Space Between Time, I only had a vague idea of my characters, themes, and where I wanted my story to end up. I don’t have conversations with my characters, as the movie portrays Dickens doing. But, I do get ideas just as I’m waking up, or some little snippet of plot will slink by me as I’m doing something else. Sometimes I get inspiration while I’m driving. When that happens I tell the ideas to stay put so I can write them down, or commit them to memory for later use. But like Dickens, my past and how I feel about it, is all part of my written work. I think it must be that way for all authors.

I can’t say I’ve ever had writer’s block, as Dickens does in the movie, at least not yet, thank heaven. But there are times when I know that where the story and characters want to go isn’t quite ripe yet. So I have to let the ideas simmer on the back burner of my mind. Or maybe it’s more a matter of me giving up resisting where the characters need to go. While writing The Space Between Time, I wanted to make my characters perfect, spiritually awakened people. But we all have those dark places inside that we must face to get through to the light. For me, dredging up the dark emotions are the hard days of writing. Fortunately I have good writer friends who keep reminding me that the best stories show the character’s struggles before they find a happy plateau.

Not being a person who plots out every event in the book is sometimes a pain. But that’s just not my personality. When I began writing this first novel, part of my vague idea was to have two intertwining timelines, but when I picked it up again after several years, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Then a fellow author encouraged me to go with my first instinct. On the drive home I just said to the universe, “Okay, I want to tell the story of a character in the present and have her discover a character in the past. As a result they learn from each other. How do I do that?” And as I was approaching the San Pedro River, the idea came to me. Jenna’s life would be shattered. She’d find Morgan’s journals and enter her consciousness. From that moment on, idea after idea flowed to me as the story developed. I was energized again.

A similar thing happened with Time’s Echo, the sequel novel I’m working on now. Again the story in the past came to me first. I knew I wanted Morgan to become involved in the Suffrage Movement, but what was happening with Jenna in the present wasn’t clear to me. I wanted her to have some kind of awakening and become involved in advancing women’s rights, but just what was going to motivate her to do that wasn’t clear. That was in 2014. I began writing Morgan’s portion of the book and waited for events or inspiration to come to me about Jenna. I mean, I had been harassed in college and in the work place, but none of it seemed immediate enough to propel Jenna into activism. Inspiration and recent events collided with a vengeance. We’ll see how real life events help me write more of Jenna’s awakening. Like Dickens, everything that comes into my sphere of awareness is fodder for the stories I want to tell.

I hope you will go see The Man Who Invented Christmas. Even if it is fantasy, it’s satisfying to think that Dickens came to understand and forgive his father. The movie is filled with hope that if we forgive, we can find joy in life and change those around us.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

‘Tis the Season 3

Aunt Nila and Me on a snowy Arizona day.

“One thing I like about historical fiction is that I’m not constantly focusing on me, or people like me; you’re obliged to concentrate on lives that are completely other than your own.” ~ Emma Donoghue

“Cultural concepts are one of the most fascinating things about historical fiction.” ~ Diana Gabaldon

“The thing that most attracts me to historical fiction is taking the factual record as far as it is known, using that as scaffolding, and then letting imagination build the structure that fills in those things we can never find out for sure.” ~ Geraldine Brooks

As you might have guessed from the quotes above, today I’m focusing on authors of historical fiction. I agree with all three of those above quotes. Each one expresses why I love historical fiction. It’s fun imagining what it might have been like to live during those times having to cope with the wars, or travel, or political situations, or just daily life. So, today I want to share some authors of historical fiction that I have not only enjoyed reading, but who have transported me to new locations and time periods in such a vivid way that I could imagine living there.

Zoe Saadia

Zoe Saadia has written “several novels of pre-Columbian Americas.” The first of her novels I read was Two Rivers book one of The Peacemaker series. In this series, Two Rivers is a member of one of the Iroquois tribes. He’s fed up with the perpetual raiding and fighting that goes on among the different tribes of the area and comes up with a plan to unite all the people into one great league. You have probably seen the symbol of this confederation on our money, the eagle holding a group of arrows his its talons, the idea being that we are stronger together than we are separate.

What attracted me to this series was the fact that I learned of the Iroquois Great League for the first time while teaching American Literature at the high school level. When I read Two Rivers, I was hooked and bought the entire series. I was riveted not just to the political intrigue, but the subtle differences of each tribe’s practices and culture.

I’ve read other of Ms. Saadia’s books in The Rise of the Aztec, and The Pre-Aztec series,The Highlander, and The Young Jaguar respectively, and plan to finish each of those series as well as the other books she has written. One of the things that impresses me about her writing is the respect for and imagination she shows in creating fully formed cultures.

Zoe contacted me after the review I wrote about Two Rivers, she was so thrilled. And she even read a couple versions of my novel, The Space Between Time. She gave me great feedback. I highly recommend her books and I will keep reading her work.

Octavia Randolph

I’m intrigued by the middle ages. I tend to read lots of historical fiction that takes place during that vast time period. I’m not sure why, except that it may have to do with books like Octavia Randolph’s The Circle of Ceridwen Saga. These books take place during the early Medieval period. The first book, The Circle of Ceridwen begins in 871 England where the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms face a new invading group, the Vikings. If you’ve been watching The Vikings on The History Channel, you might be interested in this set of books. I had a naive notion about this time period. But this series taught me a great deal about trade routes and the goods and services that were available. Ms. Randolph takes the reader into a richly drawn set of cultures and characters. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I also learned of the island of Gotland, a province of Sweden, in the Baltic Sea from reading this series. I do not ever remember learning about it in school. Now I want to go there.

Jean Gill

Jean Gill’s The Troubadours Quartet, takes place in the 1150s France, the Holy Land, and England. The first of this series is Song at Dawn. I haven’t finished this series yet, but again, Ms. Gill draws the reader into a new world of Crusades, court intrigue on large and small levels not to mention, the life of the troubadours.

Another thing I loved about this series is the research Ms. Gill did into the healing arts and practices, the herbs used and other medical procedures that were available to the people of that time period. I’m excited to finish reading this series because of all the new things I learn in each book.

When we think of artists, we think mostly of those of the Renaissance, but as each of these series show, the arts, both creative and healing, were alive and well even in pre-historic times.

I hope I haven’t bored, but inspired you to pick up one of these series, or gift them to family and friends who are avid readers.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

‘Tis the Season 2

It’s a Wonderful Life Village

“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” ~ Steven Pressfield

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” ~ Douglas Adams

Artists are people who try to interpret the world. For the most part we are attempting to express something we feel that is difficult to express in words. We create dances, or paintings, to evoke those feeling. Writer’s struggle, not always because we’re lazy, or find housework more interesting, but because putting things as nebulous as deep emotions into something as imprecise as words is extremely difficult. People who are not artists do not always appreciate the soul searching, time and effort, not to mention the cost of materials, it takes to create that work of art that they think is too expensive. But when you buy a work of art, you’re buying more than the canvas, paints, entertainment, or paper and words. You’re buying communication between the creator’s soul and yours. For this reason, I want to continue promoting the work of my writer friends and acquaintances.

The two authors I encourage you to check out today are women who have done a wonderful job of expressing deep emotions in their work.

Julie Christine Johnson

I met Julie online. I’m not sure where, probably Facebook. She was enormously encouraging to me as I was writing The Space Between Time so when her first novel, In Another Time, was published I was anxious to read it. Some of the elements are very similar to my novel. There is a woman who’s life has fallen apart, two time periods with some time travel elements, and the protagonist experiences some extraordinary experiences just like the women in my novel. But In Another Time takes place mostly in France. The reader can learn a great deal about the Cathars, a religious sect active during the middle ages. They were wiped out by the Catholic Church in the 1600s, if I remember correctly. This book is one many women have enjoyed but I think men can also relate to the characters and events of the story. I haven’t read Julie’s second book yet, The Crows of Beara. It takes place in Ireland. I have it on my long wish list. Julie’s writing is beautiful and her books would make wonderful Christmas gifts.

Stacy Bennett

Stacy is another person I met through Facebook. We are both members of a writer’s group there. When her first novel, Quest of the Dreamwalker came out, I was very excited to read it. It’s a fantasy, my favorite genre, and it had a women protagonist. When I downloaded it to my Kindle and began reading, I was hooked from the very first page. This fantasy novel takes place in a fictional world in a medieval type time period with an evil wizard, a war, mercenary soldiers, and an Amazon like society of mystics and warrior women protected by a ring of trees with leaves that become sharp blades if a man ventures into their realm. But the way the plot unfolds is original and unexpected. The relationships among the group of main characters is an important part of the story. I was so taken with this novel, that I gladly purchased a novella Stacy wrote to keep her fans happy while she finishes the second in the Dreamwalker series. That novella is Tales of the Archer. I loved it as much as the first novel even though it is about two of the side characters in her original story. It may be some time before Stacy can finish the sequel to Quest of the Dreamwalker, because like most authors, she has to work at a regular job to support her writing habit. I’ll be ready to read her second novel no matter when it comes out. However, in the mean time, you can enjoy the above mentioned books and one other by Stacy, Son of Anubis, which is also on my wish list.

Please don’t forget, if you get books for Christmas, whether they are these or others on your wish list, share how much you love them with your friends, ask your local bookstore and library to carry them. If you belong to a book club group, suggest the books to the group, and best of all write a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or other booksellers sites. Reviews help authors sell more books.

Thanks for reading, writing comments and pressing the like button. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

‘Tis the Season

Small Christmas Tree

“Your personal life, your professional life, and your creative life are all intertwined. I went through a few very difficult years where I felt like a failure. But it was actually really important for me to go through that. Struggle, for me, is the most inspirational thing in the world at the end of the day – as long as you treat it that way.” ~ Skylar Grey

“I’ve had the thought that a person’s ‘artistic vision’ is really just the cumulative combination of whatever particular stances he has sincerely occupied during his creative life – even if some of those might appear contradictory.” ~ George Saunders

“It took me a long time to even dare to envision myself as a writer. I was very uncertain and hesitant and afraid to pursue a creative life.” ~ Jhumpa Lahiri

I just finished reading Love Life, With Parrots by my friend Cappy Love Hanson. It’s a wonderful memoir. We had lunch this week with another writing friend, Debrah Strait and just as I was arriving at our favorite Chinese restaurant, I got the idea to promote the books of some of my face-to-face and online writer friends during this holiday season. I figure it’s good karma. So this week I’ll tell you a little bit about Cappy and Debrah’s books.

Debrah Strait

I’ll begin with Debrah because I’ve read three of her books and loved all of them. The thing that is interesting about Debrah is that she doesn’t write just one genre. I’ve read rough drafts of screen plays, science fiction stories, her flash fiction book, Flash of the Pen, her novel, The Sweet Trade, and her latest book, Notes from Bisbee: Twenty years of Living with Rattlesnakes, Killer Bees, and Folks in Need of Supervision. This latest book I read as Debrah was developing it, and there were several times I laughed out loud partly because I live near Bisbee and know it’s reputation, but also because of the way Debrah described events and people.

Each of her books has a different flavor, if I can use that as a writing metaphor. But each one is poignant, serious, adventurous, funny, and they make you think. Even in her nonfiction stories the characters are vivid. I could almost hear their voices in my head as I read each holiday letter.

The first finished book of Debrah’s I read was The Sweet Trade. It’s a pirate novel and even though I’m not a big fan of pirate novels, I knew enough about Debrah’s writing that I wanted to read it. This is one of a handful of books I’ve read that grasped me from the first sentence. I wanted to know what happened to Dirk and his young friends as their village is destroyed and their families killed. As they try to survive, they get tangled up in the world of pirates in the mid-1600s Caribbean. This is a great book for anyone on your list who loves adventure. It’s got historical figures, battles, shipwrecks and even romance, something to appeal to almost anyone.

If you like stories with quirky characters, Notes from Bisbee might be for you, especially since the characters in this book are real people which proves that sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.

Cappy Love Hanson

I have to say, I’m not usually a big fan of memoirs, but again, since I knew Cappy and a little bit about her writing, I wanted to read her book. I’m always amazed at people who are able to lay out their life on the page in such a vulnerable way. Cappy does this. We suffer through her various romantic relationships as she tries to learn to love herself and find that one lasting love all the while being supported by the relationship she has with her parrots.

Cappy’s book has adventure as well. She describes a horrific car accident that she should not have survived, and the subsequent healing process she went through which included her struggles to find work. She also describes relationship issues with family members that most of us can relate to. Love Life, With Parrots is an affirmation that no matter what challenges we face, there can be love and support for us if we keep trying to find it and give it.

I hope you will consider purchasing one of these wonderful independently published books for yourself, or a loved one because writers and artists have to pay the bills too. And remember to write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, social media, or your favorite bookseller. That’s how we writers attract new readers.

Thanks for reading, liking and leaving comments. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

On the Precipice

Lighthouse

“First, accept sadness. Realize that without losing, winning isn’t so great.” ~ Alyssa Milano

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” ~ Carl Jung

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ~ Jimmy Dean

“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” ~ Hugh Prather

For some reason I’m feeling melancholy today. I don’t feel this way very often so it has thrown me off balance a little bit.

After writing in my journal, I realized that my emotional state has to do with a number of factors. I’ve been feeling like I’m in a rut and need to make some changes. One thing I need to do is get out and do some face-to-face book marketing. That’s a scary prospect. Another is my body is telling me to get back into exercise again, and the another is that I want to learn something new and meaningful.

This weekend a confluence of events helped break me out of my rut a bit. First, I found a new podcast to listen to, suggested by Anne Bogel of the “Modern Mrs. Darcy” blog and “What Do I Read Next” podcast. The new podcast is right up my alley in terms of my interest in spirituality and creativity. The title is, “The One You Feed” with Eric Zimmer. After listening to two podcasts in which Eric has a conversation with Father Richard Rohr, I was hooked.

The next thing that happened was I began reading my friend Cappy Love Hanson’s memoir, Love Life, With Parrots. When I first quit teaching to become a full-time writer, I wrote a memoir, but it wasn’t good. The woman I asked to read it said I was too guarded. And I do feel that way when I write. I don’t want people to know anything about my faults. I don’t want to be vulnerable on the page. It’s okay to do that with my fictional characters, but to put all my flaws out there for everyone to read is just too scary. Yet, as I was reading Cappy’s book, full of all her vulnerability, and thinking back on the podcast I’d listened too earlier in the weekend, I had this overwhelming feeling that one day I was going to go back to that memoir, revise and publish it. Yikes! That’s another scary thought.

Another thing that occurred to me this weekend is that I’ve been feeling quite dissatisfied with my reading life lately. It’s not that the novels I’ve been reading are bad. I have enjoyed the stories and learned some really interesting things from them. But my inner student is feeling neglected. So, I’m going to finish my Goodreads reading challenge by devouring some of Richard Rohr’s books and other non-fiction books that I have on my reading list.

As the days go along and I continue to examine my inner landscape, I will probably discover unfinished business that needs attention, or I’ll finally face the changes I need to be making that I have been resisting. That’s a good thing. Sometimes I need to do some cosmic closet cleaning to make room for new experiences to come into my life.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. For those of you in the U.S., I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Life’s Journey

Oregon Trail wagonwheel ruts

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” ~ Carol Burnett

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” ~ Maya Angelou

Last night some of my acting students and I got into quite a discussion about the short play they were rehearsing. It’s a dark comedy. As we were talking about the characters and what could have made them the way they were, it became this wonderful “teachable” moment for us.

I’ve always approached teaching as a kind of fellow traveler. “Wow, here’s this interesting piece of literature. Let’s see if we can figure out what the playwright, movie maker, or author is trying to get us to see about the way he or she sees life. And, it’s my philosophy that my point of view is not more important than the student’s. My only job is to open doors so they can do their own thinking. I just bring up a multitude of possibilities for the students to consider.

So, it was interesting that my meditation with Oprah an Deepak today connected to the discussion the night before. Oprah said that each of us has our own path, and nice as it might be to have someone tell us the choices to make, or to give us a glimpse of what the future holds, that’s not possible. We can’t flip to the end and see where we end up. We have to just slog through life learning as we go.

To me, life is an adventure. Oh, there have been times when I’ve played it safe, but I can’t do that for long. I get bored and look for my next adventure. Sometimes the adventures I go on are strictly intellectual like the course I took this summer on Alfred Hitchcock, or emotional like having to deal with loss, or disappointment, or the ups and downs of self-discovery. But then I guess all adventures, even physical ones, have those components. Adventures, some people call them challenges or problems, shake up our lives and help us get a new perspective.

If ever I am asked to give a speech, this would be my message: There will be people who will open doors for you, but it’s up to you to walk through and find your own way. The important thing to do is to keep moving forward. Sometimes it will be hard to see the path because of all the brambles, but you have no idea how many people you will help if you just keep trying to find your way.

Something else interesting happened yesterday that relates to the message of this post. I was at the chiropractor and his wife was in the office. We hadn’t seen each other in perhaps ten years. She told me, “I knew you right off, because you look exactly the same as the last time I saw you.” And she said something else, “You look so happy.” I told her I am happy. All the challenges I’ve had to go through have been worth it. That doesn’t mean there won’t be more things for me to learn, but because I’ve come to love myself and my life, they will be so much easier to deal with.

That’s always my hope for my students, friends and family members, that the challenges they face will help them clear out the guck so they can arrive at a happy place.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting on my posts. I appreciate it. Have a happy weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Shakespeare for Any Situation

Murder on the Orient Express 2017

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” ~ William Shakespeare

“I have good reason to be content, for thank God I can read and perhaps understand Shakespeare to his depths.” ~ John Keats

“But what if Shakespeare – and Hamlet – were asking the wrong question? What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?” ~ Gayle Forman, Just One Day

So, two or three posts ago, I wrote about my dilemma about whether or not to direct a Shakespeare play. I am not a great student of Shakespeare. I haven’t studied all the plays or the ins and outs of his life and I’m not obsessed with seeing every production of his work produced nearby. I do, however, believe that all his plays and poems, can be applied to any situation we face in life. That’s why I chose to direct the play Measure for Measure this coming spring.

While I was preparing this post, my husband and I went to see the new version of Murder on the Orient Express. I loved it but then I’m a bit of a nerd in that way. I love to see different versions of the same story. In fact, I have two versions of Jane Austen’s Emma, and have seen multiple versions of Jane Eyre. In my opinion it’s a good thing to reproduce the timeless stories so that new generations can become engaged with the story. Every Christmas, my husband and I watch more than one version of A Christmas Carol. Each director has just a little bit different take on how to tell the story and I love that.

Since I love comparing the various versions of plays and movies, I was surprised at how many critics panned this new version of Murder on the Orient Express. I was so disturbed by the reviewer on NPR, asking why do it?, that I wrote a long comment about the need to do remakes of these classic stories, and that just because an actor in a previous era was fantastic in the role, doesn’t mean you won’t learn something new from a different actor’s interpretation.

Which brings me back to Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. It’s not one of Shakespeare’s cannon of famous plays that everyone knows and it’s not performed as often as some of the others, but it’s one that has stuck with me ever since reading and watching it forty years ago when I was in undergraduate school. And now that more women, and some men are telling their stories of sexual harassment and abuse I think it’s time to revive this play, even if only in my small town.

In the last couple of years, I’ve read and watched lots of movies that center around the issues women face. Measure for Measure, is in part, that kind of play. But Isabella’s situation with Angelo isn’t the only reason I wanted to do the play. The three main characters are on a journey of self-discovery and those are the stories that I find most intriguing.

If we choose to be, we’re all on a journey of self-discovery. Angelo and Isabella are both characters who try to deny their darker, more natural, some might say animal, instincts. But it’s been my experience that the parts of yourself you try to push away, or stuff into the darkest corner of your psyche, are eventually exposed. That certainly happens to Angelo, and because of his demands on her, Isabella must also come face to face with her sexuality, something she has been trying to deny.

As I study this play, more facets and deeper layers of what drives the characters are revealed to me. That’s the sign of a great and timeless story. All of Shakespeare’s work is like that, even the light comedies have a deeper message than the antics of the characters.

I had a meeting last week with a man who is not only an Actor’s Equity member, but an expert on Shakespeare and who has done Measure for Measure seven times in one capacity or another. When I was getting ready to drive to town for our meeting, I was feeling “sklunklish”. (That’s a word I love from the Cary Grant movie Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer that means not feeling well. I love it when people make up words, much like Shakespeare did.) I wished I didn’t have to go into town so early before my class that evening. Yet, the more this gentleman and I talked, the more I was energized by the conversation. And I felt like this is just the right time to examine the issues the play presents. I don’t know if I’ll get enough actors to produce the play, but I’m learning a great deal from my studies.

Though I love the Shakespeare plays I’ve studied, I have shied away from directing them, or even using them often in my dramatic structure classes because of the language. But with the wide range of situations and themes his plays cover, I can never go wrong watching, directing, or showing more of them in my dramatic structure class.

In the new year, I hope to be writing about how the rehearsals are going.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Season of Appreciation

August Sunset

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States. It’s a commemoration I have never felt comfortable with since I became old enough to understand its meaning. I abhor the wars that caused so many men and women to sacrifice their lives, health and sometimes sanity. I want to honor the warriors, not the wars. I know that sometimes good comes from terrible events, I just wish we could learn to settle our differences in ways other than war. So, I’ll just say that I honor these warriors on one of the first days of appreciation that marks this season.

The other morning we had a glorious sunrise. Arizona is known for its sunrises and sunsets. Barry and I have hundreds of pictures taken from our front porch, or from the road outside our house. Each new glorious sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset, I’m filled with gratitude. I pay attention to the sunrises mostly in autumn, and winter because in summer sunrise is at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. and I’m not coherent at that time of morning. But the summer sunsets turn the landscape into a peachy golden flow. The quality of the light is unlike anything I had ever experienced before moving here. Unfortunately, I have not as yet been able to capture the effect with my phone camera. Which is actually something I like about that magical time of day. To appreciate what I’m describing, you have to be present when the sun turns the desert luminous.

In the autumn and winter, we are greeted by the sun streaming through our southern facing windows making gorgeous patterns on the walls and furniture. It greets me as I prepare breakfast and Barry’s lunch. It’s like a lovely companion.

When we first moved here, I noticed something I had never seen while living anywhere else. As the sky is beginning to lighten, or darken, a lavender band forms at the horizon reaching out in the opposite direction. When I lived in Portland, the sky was often obscured by clouds, and when I was younger, I didn’t pay close attention to the beauty of the nature around me.

I can no longer imagine living in a large city with the noise and fumes. I’m much older now and know the value of taking a moment to allow the beauty of nature to sink into my soul.

As we enter this holiday season, I plan to take time to be grateful for all the abundant splendor around me while I can.

I hope you have a magnificent weekend.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Reading, Writing, and Belonging

Dad reading to son

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“Humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were ‘reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.’” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” ~ Emilia Fox

I’m not sure exactly what it is I want to express with this post, except for the last nine years I’ve been focused on writing and that has changed me in profound ways. Long before I was a writer, I was an avid movie watcher and reader. I still am, and for quite some time now I’ve been trying to understand just what it is about story telling in all its forms that draws me in. It might be the communal aspect of watching a movie or reading a book with one or two of my friends and then discussing every little detail about it. But watching and reading can also be solitary activities and I love that about them too. Or it might be that stories help me understand human beings better. When I hear people talk about how they are affected by the books they read, or write, I know that there is something fundamental about story telling that we need. Maybe I don’t need to define it, just enjoy it.

I have a number of former students and friends who are totally into cosplay, attend Comic Cons, dress up as their favorite characters, and are even on panels at these events. They read all the fan fiction, watch all the TV shows and movies about their favorite characters. And at first I thought them a little daffy. But after listening to them talk about the different layers of the plots and of their characters, or of the movie we watched in class, I changed my mind. I remembered all those hours of discussing movies with my father and I knew that these students were demonstrating a great deal of understanding about human behavior, their motivations, and hangups because the stories engaged their imaginations. Most of my friends and students have empathy because of their attention to the extreme situations their favorite characters have to deal with. They put themselves in their shoes. They think about what they would do in a similar situation. I love that!

The thing that connects me to great stories is the playwright or author’s ability to help me feel with the characters. When I was in college, the first play I was cast in was The Merchant of Venice. As we rehearsed the play, I understood more fully why Shylock wants his pound of flesh. He, as a Jew, has been treated so horribly. He’s a wounded character but unfortunately, he gets punished again at the end for trying to get what is due him, by literally taking a pound of flesh from the man who can pay his debt. In a way I couldn’t blame him for wanting revenge. But the whole point of the play is about how showing mercy is better than seeking revenge.

When I read a great book, or see a timeless movie, somehow I not only understand other people better, I understand myself better. That’s what I aim for when I’m reading, directing a play, watching a movie or writing. I’m looking for new clues that will help me understand human behavior a little better.

I just realized that I wrote this post because until recently, I felt like the odd person out. I mean, a lot of the people I associated with were into sports, or outdoor activities, or going to concerts, even some of my theatre friends, and I just didn’t get that. I mean I love nature and music, but I didn’t understand the whole sports fan thing, until I began to have students who were into dressing up like their favorite characters, and analyzing every detail of the books and movie world they inhabited. I finally got it. Most people are looking for their tribe, a place to belong. I’m finding my people and it’s a good feeling.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.