The Importance of Story

Dad and me on Easter Sunday
Dad and me on Easter Sunday

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.” ~ Helen Keller

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature, or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.” ~ Samuel Butler

“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” ~ Boris Pasternak

“No matter what is happening in life or in the world – war, natural disaster, poor health, pain, the death of loved ones – if existence is filled with art, music and literature, life will be fulfilling, a joy.” ~ Karen DeCrow

In the next week or so, I’m going to launch a video series on YouTube titled, “Loving Literature”. At first I thought, “This can be a tool for teachers to use.” But later I realized that the real reason I’m doing this series is to relive some of the great things I learned as a result of my dad staying up late with me on Friday and Saturday nights watching movies. I loved those times together with him and I loved that he helped me understand that even if a story is deceptively simple, there are always layers of meaning hidden within the plot, characters and setting.

I was gratified last week, when one of my acting students said to me, “You’re right. This scene seems simple, but there is a lot going on between the two characters.” Hah, another student won over! Thanks dad.

I’ve learned it’s like that in life too. When I have an encounter with someone there are so many things going on. There is what’s going on inside me, and what’s going on inside the other person. Sometimes outside circumstances even play a part in the encounter. Because of my practice analyzing fictional stories, I can analyze the situation with that other person, and hopefully either work things out, or help the relationship deepen. It’s all because I had a great dad who asked me all kinds of questions about the movies we watched together. Because of that, I understand a little bit more about why people do what they do.

I don’t know if my video series will help anyone understand themselves and others better. Or if it will help them learn to think more critically. I hope it will. All I know is that I have a passion for discussing all kinds of literature and I want to share that love with others.

My husband and I were watching an episode of Ancient Aliens the other day. It was about the similarities in the mythologies of all the ancient cultures and how we’ve taken the basics from those stories and created new mythologies in the science fiction and superhero stories we tell today. They cited Joseph Campbell and his work in finding the similarities in the myths of ancient cultures. He said, “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.” In other words, story is in our DNA. we need stories to help us make sense of our world.

So, I’m embarking on this new adventure. (Don’t fret. I’m nearly finished with The Space Between Time, and I will continue to post this blog weekly.) I don’t know where it will take me, but I think it’s going to be fun. I’ve got the “donut”, as my husband says the intro and outgo are called, created and the first episode ready to place in the middle. And I have ideas for at least four or five more episodes. I’d love to hear your ideas of what I could talk about. Feel free to leave them in the comments below, or at my writer’s site on Facebook. You can also tell me why you love reading, watching movies or TV. Is it more than entertainment? It is for me.

Thanks for reading. I hope you leave a comment and share this post with your friends and family.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

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My Life Flows On In Endless Song

California Coast
California Coast

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Wayne Dyer

This morning I woke up with one of my favorite hymns in my head.

“My life flows on in endless song; Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the real though far off hymn That hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, How Can I keep from singing?”
Text: Robert Lowry, 1826 – 1899
Tune: Quaker Hymn; harm. David N. Johnson, 1922 – 1987; copyright 1977 Praise Publications, Inc.; used by permission for Hymns of the Saints 1981, Herald Publishing House.

Let me back up so you’ll understand why I was comforted by this song this particular morning.

Last night was the first Presidential Debate. I didn’t watch it for a number of reasons. One, two people who are running for President were left out, I know who I’m voting for come November 8, and I’m a highly sensitive person. An excessive amount of drama is extremely unsettling to me. After seeing the chatter on Facebook last night and this morning, I think I made the right decision.

I find it also interesting that we had a large thunderstorm over our heads starting at about 3:30 a.m., lasting until Barry left for work. It’s almost as if Mother Earth is disturbed by all the political, social and military confrontations and upheavals as well.

Having that particular hymn flit through my brain is comforting. It reminds me that I can allow life to toss me about, or I can find a rock to cling to, and rejoice that I’m safely anchored and well cared for. Mother Earth, or God, or the Universe, or any name you choose, is in charge. Which means I don’t have to be.

I think it was Eckhart Tolle who said, “What you resist persists, what you focus on grows stronger.” That’s been a really difficult thing for me to learn, to turn away from the negative people, events, and thoughts in my head, and focus on loving, positive things. I’m grateful for the gentle reminder that no matter how things appear, all is well as evidenced by my remembering a hymn that continues to bring me peace. I never want to turn away a good message.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Opportunities

My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ~ Milton Berle

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” ~ Napoleon Hill

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” ~ Betty Friedan

Recently I’ve been helping my sister brainstorm ideas for a series of YouTube videos to help promote her life coaching business. While we were talking, I got the urge to create my own videos. I have my own YouTube channel created some years back so I could post videos of my students performing their acting scenes. It helps if they can see themselves and the mistakes they make, but also seeing how well they do gives them confidence. For the most part, the videos are not public, only the people with the links can view them.

So, I already have a channel set up and I’ve been thinking how I can monetize it. There are people who make a great living posting videos. Maybe I can earn a little money too. But what would my videography theme be? Finally the idea crystallized through a series of events, to complicated to enumerate here, of creating videos tentatively titled “Loving Literature.”

It’s funny how lots of experiences and elements in my life collate and synthesize into a new, better understanding. When that happened last week, I got energized and I can’t wait to begin making videos.

What will the videos be about? The importance of reading and understanding literature, of course. In fact, to me it’s the most important basic skill we need because without being able to read, our learning is handicapped. It’s not that we can’t learn, it’s just a great deal more difficult.

Reading literature, watching plays, movies, and television are ways we can walk a mile in another person’s shoes. That’s what makes storytelling in all its forms so compelling. We’re fascinated by other human beings and their experiences. Stories help us widen our world view and understand people who have a very different outlook on life than we do. We can learn from their experiences. To me understanding what it means to be human is the basis for building societies, cultures, even governments.

In my opinion, if you don’t understand other human beings and why they feel and act the way they do, you can’t be a completely successful person. I’m not talking about gaining wealth, I’m talking about gaining friendships, nurturing families, and being part of a team at work, all of which make having the money worthwhile.

When I’ve got the first few videos posted, I’ll include the link here.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Words, Words, Words

Classic Books
Classic Books

“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

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” ~ Will Rogers

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

It’s ironic that someone like me, who loves solitude should also love words both spoken and read. Or maybe it’s that I love stories. Stories in all forms, visual, aural, and on the page touch my soul. I just finished reading a fascinating book series by Marissa Meyer using the fairy tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White and weaving them together in a Sci-Fi/fantasy world where the evil queen is ruler of Luna but wants to conquer Earth. After finishing the first book, Cinder. I was hooked and now that I’ve finished the last book, Winter, I can’t stop thinking about the characters and events of the books. I highly recommend them for all you Sci-Fi/fantasy lovers out there.

The fact that I’m having a hard time letting go of the story of these four strong women characters got me thinking about other novels, or short stories that have had a deep impact on me. So for today’s post, I thought I’d share an abbreviated list of my all-time favorite books.

The first book of quality that grasped me was A Tale of Two Cities. The character of Sydney Carton is my favorite from the book. He’s a flawed character who redeems himself by taking Charles Darnay’s place to face the guillotine during the French Revolution. The speech he gives as he faces his death is one of the classics for all time. I love the theme that people can change, and in the direst of circumstances make a difference, no matter how small. This book ignited my love of British literature, both classic and modern.

Later, my perspective of the world changed when I read first Roots and shortly after Shogun. Both books put me into the heads of characters who lived in very different cultures and circumstances than I did and I still feel their influence to this day. Who could have read, or seen Roots and still think slavery was a tenable practice? When I read it with one of my English classes, my students were just as appalled at what the slaves experienced as I was. It’s a book that helps the reader develop empathy, and that makes it a classic in my mind. Any book that can give the reader new insights speaks a universal language for the ages.

In recent years I have been deeply affected by each of the books in the Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Outlander series, and I loved The Book Thief, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Go Set A Watchman. Each of those books showed the strength and resilience of the women main characters, a trend I love.

In general I don’t read short stories often because I like to take my time and savor the story, but one collection that changed my perception of spirituality was The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images by Martin Bell. It was first published in 1968. I discovered it in the early 80s when I was still very involved in church. One story in particular continues to influence my thinking. It’s “What the Wind Said to Thajir”. In the very short story, Thajir, a young boy, goes out to play. He loves the wind. On the fall day in the story, the wind speaks to Thajir and shares three great life secrets with him, everything that is is good, at the center of things life belongs to life, and that the meaning and purpose of life is in dying on behalf of the world. Recent events have brought back to mind the importance of these three great secrets. For that reason, I read the story again to refresh my memory of the important message shared in the story.

What I look for when I read a book, is to get inside someone else’s world and experience it with them. A book that allows me to get inside a character’s head to feel their confusion, fear, despair, awakening and finally growth is to me the epitome of a great story. There are so many superb books that I’ve read that I continue to think about long after I’ve read them. Too many to mention here. If I’m still thinking about a book years after I’ve read it, that’s the sign of a great author.

I understand that we all come into this world with different agendas and points of view, so these books I’ve mentioned might not speak to you the way they do me. That’s okay as long as we each remain open to new ideas however they come to us, that’s the point. The people I’m concerned for are those with closed minds who think they already have all the knowledge they need. Hopefully they are few and far between.

I hope you will share some of your favorite books in the comments below. I’m always looking for the next life changing book.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

What If We Could Change the World?

My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” ~ Malala Yousafzai

“Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.” ~ George Lois

“It takes a different value system if you wish to change the world.” ~ Jacque Fresco

“We will leave a legacy, whether by choice or unconsciously. So why not intentionally create the legacy?” ~ Dr. Maria Church

Wow! What a tumultuous few days we’ve just lived through. For me it has been doubly so because of my gall bladder attack and trip to the hospital. All of which has caused me to do a great deal of soul searching.

I do not believe our physical ailments are hereditary. I think what Caroline Myss says is true, “our biography becomes our biology,” which means that my gall bladder was kindly telling me that I still have things to work out. Thank heaven it was only a gall bladder attack and nothing really serious. In meditation I’ve been asking to be shown what unhealed issues I have been hiding from myself. And little by little I’ve been getting answers. The first of which is, I’ve let all the societal turmoil get to me so that I’ve become angry while at the same time feeling helpless to effect any kind of real change. That’s not helpful so I’m working on that. Instead of worrying, I’m going with the flow right now to see what God has in mind rather than to try to make things come out the way I want them to. It’s a little bit of a balancing act.

I think similar wake up calls happen in society. Events slap us in the face with increasing rapidity to wake us up, to get us out of our complacency. And they keep happening until the day we pay attention and do something about them. So when bad things happen, like the shootings last week, I always try to figure out what I can do to help facilitate the change? How can I bring peace instead of violence and hatred? What keeps coming to me is to keep writing.

At first I thought that being a writer was kind of wimpy talent to offer to the problems of the world until the day after I got home from the hospital. Barry and I watched the movie Network. I had never seen it so when TCM had it on their schedule, I thought I’d watch it because it was made in 1976, another tumultuous time in our history. WOW! What a prophetic movie! If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do. Screenwriter, Paddy Chayefsky, tells the story of how one network turns real news reporting into entertainment. “Sound familiar?” Host Ben Mankiewicz asked when introducing the film. Yeah!

Watching the movie got me to thinking that the 60s and 70s are kind of like one book end to the continuing progressive movement, with now as the other end. We had a lull there for a while, but you can’t cover up a festering wound and expect it to heal. We’re in the middle of ripping off the the overgrown skin and letting the putrid junk we tried to cover up seep out so the wound can truly heal.

So, my thinking was influenced by watching Network, but throughout the years I’ve read many thought provoking books and seen movies that make a statement about situations in our society that we can do something about. We just have to speak up and I’m excited to see that there are lots of people speaking up right now about all kinds of human rights issues. That gives me hope.

To do my part I’ll state right now that I support the rights of ordinary human beings to have a decent place to live, food on the table, a job they can be proud of with access to health care and proper education. In other words, I think we should take care of each other and not let corporations dictate what we can and can’t have. Ned Beaty gives a very chilling speech in Network that might just sound like a familiar mantra of some big business owners and conservative politicians. However, nothing stays the same and their days of control are numbered.

Because of who I am, I’m never going to be the writer who examines the dark side of life. Yes, dark things happen to people, but I want my characters to face the bad things that happen and allow themselves to heal and move on to a better life. That’s what my book, The Space Between Time is about. I want to be like Gene Roddenberry and write a version of society that some people call unrealistic because if I write a vision of the way we CAN live, and other authors do too, that’s one way to influence change. As Dumbledore says in Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows, “Words, in my not so humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I think so too because that’s how ideas are disseminated. So, read, watch, talk, and think.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Keeping Characters in Hot Water

A Woman
A Woman

Before I go on with this post, I must say something about the latest shootings in Orlando and New Mexico. Each time something like this happens, I’d deeply affected by the horrific events. This is what I can do. I have and will continue to petition my legislators to vote on gun control and I will vote for people who support such legislation. I also send out love to the entire planet when I meditate. Some people say that’s a wimpy way to try to change the world, but since science has proven that what we think creates our reality, I believe that envisioning a loving world is a powerful tool to facilitate the change we want to see. Each individual that turns away from hate and fear toward love send ripples of love out into the universe. When we heal ourselves, we help heal the world. That’s what I hope my readers get from my novel and the journeys of my two main characters.

Since the last two posts from The Space Between Time have included  scenes from Morgan’s timeline in the past, this week I thought I’d include one from Jenna’s timeline in the present.

When I started this novel, I wanted to have two intertwining characters who learn from each other and heal themselves along the way. Morgan’s timeline came to me first, and I got stuck there for a while. But through a series of events which are too complicated to write about here, I finally connected with Jenna, a woman in the present who is trying to put her life back together.

In this scene, Jenna is confronted by her ex-fiancé, who broke off the engagement in the first chapter.

* * * * *

That night Jenna slept better than she had in ever so long and when she awoke, she knew what she wanted to do. Writing had always been a solace, so that’s where she would begin. Only this time, she’d take her cue from Morgan and begin by sorting out her feelings in a journal.

Grabbing her purse and keys, she opened the door and ran into Sam.

“Hi Babe.”

Her 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 up 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.”

“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 around 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 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 muddy 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, assessing the situation and 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. He 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. Do you mind?”

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 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 looked 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.

“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, 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 it 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.”

* * * * *

Thanks for reading and your comments. Feel free to share with your friends and family.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Writing Emotions

Henri Matisse - Blue Pot and Lemon
Henri Matisse – Blue Pot and Lemon

“I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.” ~ Henri Matisse

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ~ James A. Michener

“The best and most beautiful thing in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller

I love books that move me to tears, or laughter, or foreboding. That’s how I want to write, but often, like this morning, I wake up with the certain knowledge that I’ve failed on a certain scene and must go back to rework it.

When I’m trying to write the physicality of emotions, how my body would feel if I were in the character’s situation, I find myself in a quandary. As an actor/director I know about body language and facial expressions. They convey our inner states of being, but an actor doesn’t necessarily need to experience the bodily reactions when they are supposed to be demonstrating strong emotion.

I’ll tell one short story to illustrate what I mean. The first play I directed as a public school drama teacher was Our Town. The actor playing George Gibbs could not cry in the crucial scene near the end of the play. So, I told him to lay over his wife’s grave on his forearms, head down, and move his shoulders as if he were weeping with the appropriate crying sounds to go with the action. It worked! We cried during rehearsals and the audience did during performances.

But you can’t fake emotions in a novel and describing them is something I struggle with as I’m sure many authors do. I’m going to include a portion of the scene here that I was thinking about this morning. I made a few changes but it will undoubtedly need more work. You can tell me what you think.

* * * * *

Once Jenna had read those words something was pulling her into a vortex of swirling energy. Panic overtook her but no matter how hard she struggled, she could not free herself. Her mind was paralyzed with fear. Though her present life was a mess, it was familiar.

As her vision cleared, the calming voice of the woman came to her, All is well. “Fine for you to say!” She was not prepared for this experience but she was trapped. The one thing that came to her paralyzed mind was something her father used to say, “The only way out iss through.” She would have to trust. That was difficult for her. However it was her only option. She took a deep figurative breath, and allowed the mists to engulf her.

When they cleared, She was standing in an old style kitchen. There were three women working there wearing Civil War era dresses like her apparition’s. Somehow Jenna knew this was Morgan’s home and who these women were. It was the day of Morgan’s father’s funeral. Jenna’s writer’s curiosity supplanted the panic of only moments before. Looking up from her task, Morgan’s best friend Emma said, eyes dancing, “We’re here if you need us.”

Jenna had only a moment to comprehend that her consciousness had merged with Morgan’s as she said, “Thanks.” Emma’s motto was, “Why put off until tomorrow what you can do this minute.” Morgan knew she was right. She couldn’t put off the confrontation any longer. She walked to the door of the small sitting room where her aunt sat fuming.

Looking at Veronica’s stoney face at the funeral, she was glad her father had decided to keep his illness from her. They’d sent the telegram informing Veronica of Thomas’ death the day before the funeral. When she arrived just in time for the service, storm clouds filled her eyes and each word she spoke was covered in ice crystals.

Morgan paused outside the sitting room to gather her thoughts with sweaty palms and a roiling stomach, before facing the ogre. Veronica was nothing like Morgan’s mother Julia who had been loving, open minded, fair and generous. Morgan always thought of her mother as the perfect representation of pink, lavender and green, caring and restful.

Veronica was made of different colors. She was gold, silver and shimmering diamond. Lovely to look at, but cold and hard-hearted. She wanted riches, power and position. That’s what she got when she married into Boston’s highest echelons.

Morgan took a deep breath hoping to regain her ability to think as she opened the sliding doors of the sitting room.

“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 us to be left in peace, to spend what time we had together uninterrupted by fussing nurses, which you no doubt would have insisted upon.”

Veronica sniffed. “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 and give you every advantage he couldn’t.”

Morgan crossed the room and stood in front of her aunt. “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.”

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. Ignoring the bait her aunt wanted to distract her with, she spoke softly. “No, Aunt Veronica. I am not going with you.”

* * * * *

Thanks for reading and sharing with friends. Feel free to leave a comment from a reader’s point of view.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Miscellaneous Thoughts on Creativity

Daffodils serenading the sun.
Daffodils serenading the sun.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” ~ Joseph Campbell

I’ve been reading some nonfiction books for a change and as they always do, they make me think about my life. I wrote about reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert last week. This week, I’m reading Rising Strong by Brené Brown. Both books have stirred the pot of my well of creativity. All of a sudden I’ve got ideas about new projects coming at me. In one way, that’s fantastic. In another, I don’t feel like I’ve got enough time to write them all down. I guess the ideas that are meant for me will stick around. The others will float off and land in another writer’s lap.

One idea I got about a week ago has taken hold. It’s a story about a young girl in an as yet unnamed kingdom who is secretly taught to be a warrior by her father. The young women of the villages in her kingdom must submit to a lottery during their sixteenth year to be sacrificed to a dragon who terrorizes the countryside. Or at least that’s the rumor. No one has seen the dragon for many years. However, the girls who are sacrificed never return, so everyone believes the rumor. The girl’s father teaches her to fight, which is forbidden, in an attempt to save her life. His reasoning is that if she can fight and strategize she might be able to slay the dragon and save the kingdom. I have some ideas about what really happens to the girls, and the discoveries the main character makes because, of course, she is chosen to be the sacrifice. But I have to let those ideas sit on the back burner for awhile before I write them down. The cool thing is that every day I get new ideas about the world in which the girl lives and what might happen to her after she meets the dragon.

It’s fun to have a new project in the works, however, I’m on another round of revisions on my novel, The Space Between Time and I want to get through it a couple more times before sending it off to my writer friends for more comments and possible corrections. Sometimes ideas flow too readily, yet, I’m grateful that they are flowing at all. I want to take a shot at writing them down and to see if the stories take shape.

Something else rumbling around in my head is that it’s almost eight years since I quit teaching full-time to become a writer, and at this juncture, I feel like it’s time to take some classes, or submit some work, do some research for my sequel novel, or do something different with all these ideas.

The bottom line is I’m restless, and yet I crave solitude. Kind of a strange combination of emotions. I think what this all means is that a big change is on its way to me, and that is exciting. I’ve got the summer off. Maybe the changes will happen then. In any case, no teaching for me this summer for the first time in seven or eight years. My mouth almost waters at the thought of eleven or twelve weeks to concentrate on my work with fewer distractions. So, if you ask me to meet for lunch or go for a walk, or some other outing during the day. I may refuse not because I don’t like you, but because I’m focusing on finishing my manuscript, and putting all the new ideas floating around in my head into the computer. How about dinner?

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Woes and Rewards of Writing

My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

“Honesty is your innate ability to stand completely exposed, allowing the world to do what it may and say what it will so that you may know who you are beyond the realm of ideas.” ~ Matt Kahn, Whatever Arises, Love That.

“When I run after what I think I want,
my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety;
if I sit in my own place of patience,
what I need flows to me, and without pain.
From this I understand that what I want also wants me,
is looking for me and attracting me.
There is a great secret here
for anyone who can grasp it.” ~ Rumi

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way,
that some poems don’t rhyme,
and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end …
Life is about not knowing,
having to change,
taking the moment and making the best of it,
without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity …” ~ Gilda Lee Radner

“Do not compromise your artistic principles, ever. Know who you are and know how you got there. And choose your associates wisely. The ones who believe in you will stay by your side through thick and thin. The rest will disappear and you must allow them to disappear. Please yourself first. Be your own worst critic. Dive fearlessly into your own soul. Everything else is minutia. ~ Terry Green

In Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows part 2, Dumbledore says that “Words, in my most humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I agree with him, or rather Steve Kloves who wrote the screenplay. But sometimes finding the right words to express the inner experience is difficult. I’ve been struggling with that as I continue the seemingly endless revisions to my first novel, The Space Between Time.

Part of the difficulty I’m having has to do with the fact that I’ve come to a peaceful place in my life and I find that it’s difficult to remember all the pain and suffering that brought me here. But conflict is the heart of story and if my two main characters are a reflection of my own life’s journey, then I’ve got to put them through the same kind of life shattering situations I experienced. My characters have to make mistakes and the wrong assumptions, they have to struggle to grow and improve their lives just like I’ve had to do. If I don’t write them this way, they won’t be well rounded characters.

At first I resisted going back and digging up my past. Who wants to live their own dark times? I wanted my characters to be happy enlightened people. But my book was boring and didn’t reflect real life. Something interesting has happened as I’ve worked to remember. I’ve discovered that issues I thought were healed long ago, still have rough edges that prick and hurt. Writing and working on myself are like a dance. Sometimes my toes get stepped on, but that wakes me up to the next round of healing I need to do, which in turn helps me make the situations in my book more realistic.

There are times when I feel very vulnerable and exposed by what I’ve written. It can be such an uncomfortable place in which to be. Yet creativity is impossible if we’re not open to uncertainty. Ah, delicious ambiguity! That’s where the possibilities lie. Writing reveals the heart of the writer and exposes it to the world. Artists know that none of us can move forward, we can’t have that happy life we long for without becoming vulnerable. When we embrace uncertainty, possibilities open up for us. That’s what my characters are teaching me. I hope doing all this self-examination is helping to improve my book. I guess we’ll see.

Ah, well, back to revising and peeling back the layers.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

How Do You Know When It’s Finished?

Approved by my readers
Approved by my readers

“The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lighting bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations. Yes, it’s really helpful to be marching toward a specific destination, but, along the way, you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow.” ~ Carlton Cuse

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” ~ Julia Cameron

“Any creative process is about being in a territory which isn’t secure, isn’t necessarily familiar, and isn’t convenient in any sort of way. And that’s the excitement of it.” ~ Susanne Bier

“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.” ~ Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

When I first thought of writing this post, I was asking myself, “How in the heck will I know when my book is finished?” It’s been such a long time in coming. Years in fact. After so many revisions, so many I’ve lost count, I wonder if I will know when my manuscript is ready to publish.

Many authors think they are finished with their manuscript so they go through the long process of finding an agent, then a publisher, then there are more edits according to the advice of the publishers. No wonder so many people who think they want to write the next great American novel give up. You spend years writing and revising and then you will probably get rejection after rejection before, or if, someone decides they want to publish your book. And then it takes another year or two before its available in bookstores. I’m not sure I have that much time. After all, I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t begin writing until I was fifty-four years old. I’m now sixty-two. I don’t want to wait another two or three years to see my book published.

That’s why I’ve decided to publish my book myself instead of waiting until a publisher decides its worth their time. Maybe I’m crazy, but something inside tells me to follow my own instincts about every aspect of this process and not rely on the approval of other people. In any case, the way the publishing world has evolved, even a new writer backed by a traditional publisher, needs to have a following in place and they have to do much of the marketing themselves. So, why not self-publish? The process of publishing a book is fairly easy now days.

Even though I’ve decided to publish the book myself, I still have the question in my head, “How will I know when its finished?” This is what I think happens. There is a click in an artists head that tells him or her when their piece is complete. That doesn’t mean perfect, it just means that the work is as finished as the author’s abilities allow at that time. Nothing created is ever perfect, but there comes a point when any changes made to the painting, or the song, or the book are just changes. They don’t improve the piece.

I read a quote recently, I can’t remember where, that said something like, “An author writes the book, it’s the reader who attaches the meaning.” Since I believe that is true, it’s my job to finish telling the story that wants to be told and then send it out into the world. No one will be able to attach the meaning to it that I do because they didn’t live the experiences that brought the book into being. I just hope it touches people. That’s the most I can hope for. Writing this article has helped me see that my manuscript IS nearly finished. There may be a few more tweaks after my writer friends give me their comments, but my instincts tell me that I don’t need to make any more major changes. It’s as good as I can make it and that has to be good enough for me. I hope it’s good enough for my readers.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015