Helping Someone Else Helps Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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