What Writing Has Taught Me

All the Love and Support We Need

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.” ~ Brené Brown

My husband and I had an intimate conversation the other day on the way home from the memorial for a fellow writer. I met Cappy about eight or so years ago through a writer’s group she and her best friend Ross started. Cappy always had a smile on her face, her critiques were kind, but insightful, and enormously helpful. When I talked with her one-on-one, she was genuinely interested in what I had to say. She didn’t talk a lot about herself, but if you asked, she was happy to share insights she’d learned from her experiences.

The way I really got to know Cappy was from reading her memoir, Love Life, With Parrots. Her openness about all aspects of her life made me realize that I’m a guarded person and thus a guarded writer. And that’s what my husband and I were talking about, how I wished I could be more open like Cappy. Her open, welcoming nature left an indelible impression on those she met.

I must acknowledge that I come by my caution honestly. My father and mother were/are both introverts. My father, in particular, was a very private man. The way he shared his values with us was through the discussions we had about the media we consumed, or about things that had happened to us at school or church. I know that he had a very deep and active spiritual life because of the sermons he preached, but he hardly ever shared how he felt about the experiences themselves.

As a result, I followed his example. I kept my thoughts to myself most of the time because I was sure I would cause shock and controversy if I shared the commentary running through my head. In fact, I did cause a huge controversy in college when I wrote an letter to the editor of our newspaper after the campus minister preached a sermon about love right before Valentine’s Day. His thoughts reinforced traditional doctrine, but in my opinion his view of love was severely constrained, which I pointed out in my letter. Why hadn’t I kept my thoughts to myself? But good things came out of that controversy. I should have learned that sometimes rocking the boat is a good thing. However, I was extremely uncomfortable with the personal attacks and attention and so went back into my shell.

Fast forward to 2008 when I decided to become a writer. Up until that point I had kept a personal journal in which I was completely open about my dilemmas, failures, relationship issues, and aha moments. But, when I began writing for public consumption, I found ways to conceal my true thoughts and feelings. Fortunately, someone pointed that out, and encouraged me to pull back the layers to reveal how I truly saw the world. Wow! That challenge was the most frightening thing I’ve ever had to face. I didn’t want to do it, yet I knew if I was going to affect people with what I wrote, I’d have to.

Sharing my true self was extremely difficult at first. It has become easier over the six years of writing this blog but I’m not a completely open book yet. And in a way, maybe that’s a good thing. Brené Brown says it’s important to be selective when sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings. We need to protect ourselves from energy vampires and human werewolves who take pleasure in ripping people apart. On the other hand, being open like Cappy was by revealing personal insights can be of enormous help to those who read the work.

Since attending Cappy’s memorial, I’ve been doing a great deal of self-examination with regards to my life and work. The area I tend to protect most is my spirituality. I have a difficult time sharing with people that I’ve had many spiritual experiences. Silly as it may sound, until recently I felt a bit ashamed of this aspect of who I am. I felt different from everyone else because it seems to me spirituality is not accepted as an integral part of every day life. If you’re spiritual you must live in special communities and never partake in ordinary activities. But as my sister says, “It’s just one way of living.” Spiritual people do not have to be saints. They can be your next-door neighbor, your garbage man, or your boss. As a spiritual person, I struggle with the same fears and challenges as everyone else on this planet. It’s just that I know I’m not alone. I’ve got lots of assistance to help me work though any problem.

Being a person who has regular spiritual insights, I’m sensitive to the shifting energy of our times. Just lately I’ve felt an extreme tension between the way we used to operate in the world and what I think humanity is evolving into, which is a more spiritual approach to life. And this tension has affected how I feel about the business side of writing. I want more people to read my blog and books. I would love to have a steady stream of income from what I write. But I cringe at doing the promotion and marketing. I swing back to the idea that maybe it’s enough to just create the work because any act of creativity affects the energy that connects us all. And I ask myself, do I shy away from doing more aggressive marketing because I don’t see that as spiritual? I guess I’m going to have to wrestle with this issue for a while.

In any case that brings me back to Cappy. She left behind a great deal of written work. She didn’t make loads of money from selling it, but she didn’t let that stop her from creating it. Ross announced at the memorial that he and Cappy’s husband are going to compile her poems, essays and stories into new works of art that can be shared. So, even though Cappy is no longer physically with us, her insights and particular observations about life are going to live on. That makes me very happy because her vision of the world was unique and beautiful.

Maybe that’s the most important thing about being human, we leave ripples of influence behind us. They may not be works of art, but our interactions with others influence the future in ways we can’t possibly foresee.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you have meaningful interactions with friends and love ones this weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden ©2019

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 little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Creative Urge

Taj Mahal at sunset

“The people we walk by every day have untold talents, passions that beat in their chest like a witch doctor’s drum.” ~ Pam Grout, Art and Soul Reloaded

“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” ~ Victor Pinchuck

“It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.” ~ Eric Jerome Dickey

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” ~ Edward de Bono

“In my experience, poor people are the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. Every day, they must innovate in order to survive. They remain poor because they do not have the opportunities to turn their creativity into sustainable income.” ~ Muhammad Yunus

Creativity is something I feel like I harp on a lot. It’s kind of a theme of my life, so, in a way, maybe that’s not a bad thing. We all have a kind of life theme that we share with those we come into contact with.

Creativity came into my consciousness again which started me thinking about the struggles I’ve had to balance my creative urge with making a living. it’s not so bad now that I’m semi-retired, but when I was young there were so many forces urging me to find a career that would pay good money so I could live the American dream. But when I took a job because I needed the money, it was soul killing. And I don’t want anyone else to have to experience that, so maybe that’s why I harp on finding ways to be creative.

When I was offered the job, I had a sickening sinking feeling in my gut. I knew I shouldn’t take it. But I was fresh out of college, married, and living with my grandparents. So, I took the job not trusting that a better one would come along. It had only been two or three months, but Barry and I needed to be out on our own. When I started working, it was great to be self-sufficient, but I groaned every morning knowing that I was going into that toxic environment for another day. Yet, I learned a great deal from going against my inner guidance. And the biggest thing I learned was never to do that again.

I know I’m not the only person who struggles to balance working and having time to devote to things I’m passionate about. Many of my former students are friends on social media, and they share similar struggles I had when I was in my twenties. I guess it’s a universal challenge. I’m inspired by the people who follow their passions in spite of the need to earn money. For the most part, they see the world in positive ways. And it seems to be that when they contribute their good energy and their work, we all benefit from what they create.

Some people would say that I’m a dreamer when I say that I would love it if our society became more like the one in Star Trek, where people have a basic income, and are encouraged to develop their interests and talents. In that society, money exists, it’s there, but no one needs it to survive. Living like that would be so fantastic.

Maybe we are moving in that direction at least in terms of encouraging creativity. You’ve probably seen the ads for master classes in photography, or film directing, or writing, or acting. Last summer I took a free class about Alfred Hitchcock and his movies offered by Turner Classic Movies and Ball State University. It was a fun class, and I learned a lot about movie making in general, and his style specifically. Those kinds of opportunities are out there on all kinds of subjects. All we have to do is take advantage of them.

As you may know, my husband and I are doing the year long course offered by Pam Grout as part of her book, Art and Soul Reloaded. One of the things about this course I love is that at the end of each lesson, Pam has a section she calls “You’re in Good Company”. It’s a little snippet about some person’s struggle to make their dreams come true. Here are some examples: “Every cartoon Charles Schulz, the creator of the wildly popular Peanuts comic strip, submitted to his high school yearbook was unanimously rejected.” Or, “Donald Sutherland has made more than 100 films, but he still gets so nervous, he throws up before filming begins.” Or, “Lady Gaga, whose hits have topped charts in nearly every category, got dropped by Def Jam Recordings a short three months after they signed her.” Or, “Actor Ryan Reynolds, once chosen as People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, said, ‘I feel like an overweight, pimply faced kid a lot of the time.” Or, “In the early ‘90s, George Clooney was being considered for the lead role in the homicide drama Bodies of Evidence. The CBS executive cast him instead as sidekick Ryan Walker after deciding Clooney was ‘just not leading man material.’”

But this is one of my favorite exercises in the entire books so far. “Important Creativity Test: Get out a pencil. Are you breathing? Yes _______ No _______, Check your score here. If you answered ‘yes’ to the above question, you’re highly creative.” The entire book is filled with those little encouragements. She wants us all to find our particular passion and nurture it in any way we can.

This week’s lesson is titled “Art Diviners”. In this chapter her point of view is that everyone we meet has something they are deeply passionate about and want to create, and we need to be aware of that fact. I love that idea. There is so much more to people than we can see on the surface. Just look at all of the innovative ideas people are coming up with to solve various problems we’re facing. Maybe you don’t see those on social media, but I do, and every time I read one of those stories it makes me hopeful that more and more people are not letting anything hold back their creative impulses. It might be difficult, they are probably scared, but they follow their passion anyway.

That’s one thing I love about teaching. I get to encourage my student’s creativity. And as Yoda says to Luke in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, “We are what they grow beyond.” We’re all teachers in one way or another. I find it comforting to know that little by little the world is becoming a more friendly place to live in because of what we’ve learned from the generations that have gone before, and that we’ll all leave something behind that generations after us can build upon.

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.

I am Enough

Tarantula Nebula

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” William Shakespeare

“If a man wants to be sure of his road he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.” ~ St. John of the Cross, Mystic and Saint

I’m kind of stubborn and sometimes unteachable. I’m like my dad in that way. There are certain activities that I want to discover for myself. I want to find my own way of doing it and I get irritated when someone tells me I have to do it exactly the way they do.

When I had an idea for the novel that became The Space Between Time, I just started writing even though my degrees were in religion, theatre and education. I came back to it, after having to put to it away because I became a full-time teacher. At that point I did take one writing class. But I realized that each writer has their own method and taking classes in writing can be learning someone else’s method. That hinders the student’s work because they try to fit into a mould that might not work for them. That is unless the instructor encourages his or her students to discover their own way of working. That’s my style of teaching. I give a framework, but the students must follow their own creative path.

When I read week four of Art & Soul Reloaded, including this week’s exercise, I was excited. Pam Grout encourages us to just start the project that has come to us. We don’t need to take a class, or read a book to create something remarkable.

One thing I love about this book is that Ms. Grout mentions all different kinds of creative people and the struggles they face producing their art because, for the most part they feel inadequate. In this chapter she writes about Tracy Morgan the Emmy-nominated actor and Saturday Night Live superstar. She opens her story about him with one of his quotes. “Society gave me a ten-foot wall and a five-foot ladder and then sat back to see if I’d get my black ass over that wall. It wasn’t impossible, but I had to be creative.” He has said that being funny was a way for him to survive living in the projects, and slowly it dawned on him that he might be able to be funny in front of an audience and make a living doing it. His first wife told him to go for it, but “… you’ve got to go all the way.”

When I read Tracy Morgan’s story, I compared myself to him, for just a moment. His life was much worse than mine and he learned to follow his bliss much earlier than I did. But then I remembered that as a young child, Divine Oneness and I became friends and I followed her lead in most of the decisions I made for my life. My theater training led me to teaching which led me to writing. For me, all that was the perfect path to take. Since we’re each unique, no decision is wrong, as long as we’re following our inner guides and offering up our talents to others. It took me a long time to understand that. There are still times when I want to beat myself up for taking soooooo long to get out of my own way and just commit to writing wholeheartedly. Thank heaven those times are now few and far between.

Wholeheartedly, that’s my word for the year. To me, one aspect of being wholehearted about something means you commit completely by taking time to finish all the steps necessary to make your vision come true. That may mean entering a degree program, or it may just mean starting that project that has been nagging at you. So, this year I have carefully, but wholeheartedly embraced publishing The Space Between Time. I say carefully, because I’ve discovered that I’m not a slap-the-book-together kind of person. I like to make sure not only the story is as good as I can make it, but that all the mechanical stuff is right too. I’m happy to say that Barry and I finished the final corrections this past weekend. Barry has uploaded the final manuscript for both ebook and print-on-demand versions. Hopefully we’ll get through the approval process, and the physical book will be available by next week for you to order.

I often wonder what it would be like if all parents and teachers allowed their children and students to create anything they wanted, instead of making them follow some pre-conceived notion of what makes good art, or music, or dance, or stories. To me allowing someone to express themselves in their own true way is the ultimate act of love. If more people gave encouragement to their friends, family and coworkers to listen to their inner creative voices, wow! think how wonderful the world would be.

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

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 will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Letting Go of the Old, Welcoming the New

Revised book cover for The Space Between Time

“What if imagination and art are not frosting at all, but the fountainhead of human experience?” ~ Rollo May, Existential Psychologist

“Creativity, it seems, has much in common with spirituality and may, in fact, be the same thing.” ~ Pam Grout, Art & Soul Reloaded

“Be Loki. Be Coyote. Be willing to stir the world’s soup pot. Spit at the stars, show your backside to the council, whoop in church.” ~ Jame Yoder, Author

How do you cope during extremely stressful times? I do it by finding a creative project.

When I was first teaching drama, I was also going to school full-time, and directing plays. I didn’t have one moment of the day to just breathe and relax. However, when I was at play rehearsals, I did get a bit of the rest and replenishment I needed because it was collaborative and creative.

When I was in college studying both religion and theatre, I learned something valuable. That art, or creativity, are spiritual in nature. Over the years I’ve come to understand that we all have the ability to tap into the well of creativity to heal, renew, and connect with other people. Even though I’m now a writer as well as a theatre instructor, I’m fascinated with how others view creativity.

That’s why I bought Pam Grout’s new book Art & Soul Reloaded. It’s a book with a creative exercise for each week. I’ve only read the first few pages, but I found it interesting that I have much in common with her. Like Pam, I’m the daughter of a minister with two sides to my personality. I have been the good girl, good in school, and done all the conventional things we’re told human beings are supposed to do. But, like Pam Grout, I’ve been secretly drawn to the bohemian life. I’ve wanted to be like Auntie Mame, and “live, live, live!” But most of the time I’m more like June Cleaver, only without The Beaver.

Like Pam Grout, I’d dabble in being a bohemian. When I was acting, I’d hang out at the bar after rehearsal, and go to the opening night, and end of the run parties. However, though I might sing along with the rest, and share war stories of things that happened during the show’s run, I didn’t drink much, nor did I act with crazy abandon. I stayed on the fringes enjoying other people’s freedom but not fully participating. I wanted to shed my inhibitions, but rarely did. Yet, from my theatre experiences I did learn some extraordinary lessons. That we all want the same basic things, to love and be loved, to find our purpose, to be useful. This is true for all people no matter their gender, color, sexual preference, or race.

I bought Pam’s book because even though I work on creative projects nearly every day, I feel like I’m still stuck back in that conventional life of working and teaching. The pull has been strong to follow the crowd and do all the appropriate things like buying a house, keeping the yard nice, planning for retirement, and such. I have not always followed all those “must do’s” and there is a part of me that rejoices that I’ve made some pretty bold choices in my life. Yet, I’d like to be the old woman that people either say, “Watch out here comes, Lucinda.” or “I want to be alive and vibrant like that when I’m old.”

It’s when I’ve made the bold choices that I’ve felt most alive and happy, as opposed to the sinking feeling of living out the conventional choices I’ve made. And now seems like a good time to get rid of more of those old beliefs about what living a good life looks like.

I think there has always been a tension inside me between committing absolutely to a creative life as opposed to living a more conventional one. But, even as I worked those 8:00 to 5:00 jobs, I looked for ways to break out of the crush of routine. And even though I’ve only just begun to read Art & Soul Reloaded, I feel that we can all find ways to fill our souls with the beauty of creating something wonderful. Maybe it’s gardening, or gourmet cooking, or doing hand crafts of some sort. I don’t think it matters what the creative endeavor is as long as we give ourselves time to let go of the cares of the world and let the creativity that we were born with flow through us.

What I hope to get out of doing the exercises in this book is to become more open to what life has to offer me instead of worrying about all the ugly things that are happening in the world. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative. I want to focus on the positive so I can contribute to love and beauty for all to enjoy.

By the way, the second proof for my novel has arrived. It won’t be long now before it’s available for purchase. In the mean time, I’m enjoying teaching acting and working on the sequel novel.

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

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 will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Rethinking Meandering

Star Trek Logo 50 Years
Star Trek Logo 50 Years

“Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.” ~ Phillips Brooks

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ~ Douglas Adams

“Artistic self-indulgence is the mark of an amateur. The temptation to make scenes, to appear late, to call in sick, not to meet deadlines, not to be organized, is at heart a sign of your own insecurity and at worst the sign of an amateur.” ~ Harold Prince

“Typically creative people are usually not clock-slaves or list-makers, so the idea of enforcing goals and deadlines can be somewhat daunting.” ~ Kristin Armstrong

Last week I wrote a post titled, “Determined Meandering.” In it I was exploring the advice my writer friends gave me about the seemingly endless rewrites of my novel. They advised not to get impatient to publish my book. That was probably their way of telling me that I still have a great deal of work to do before it’s ready, which is true. However, since last week, two things happened that have made me rethink my daily agenda.

First, I admit it, I’m impatient to publish my novel. It’s not that I’m sick of it, it’s more of a feeling that the time is now to publish it. I can’t really explain why I feel that way, except that when I meditate I feel that I need to get on with the rewrites, or be more efficient about how I accomplish the work.

Second, I’ve been reading the book E Squared by Pam Grout, who happens to be a full-time freelance writer herself. In the book she gives practical experiments to help the reader retrain their thinking so that they can accomplish their dreams and goals. One of the things about the experiments is that each one has a deadline, 48 hours.

As I was reading, and thinking about my current situation, I came to the conclusion that, though I hate deadlines, I must set one for myself in regards to my book. It occurred to me that sometimes people do their best work when they have limited time to finish it.

And thinking of the analogy of the meandering river, there are slow moving rivers and fast moving ones. When I was a child, I lived near the Columbia, which is a fast moving river. For years I’ve been telling myself I’m a slow writer, when I could be telling myself I’m a fast writer. So, I decided to change my mind and become a faster writer since perfection is impossible anyway.

Other interesting little tidbits have contributed to my shift in thinking. Barry and I’ve been watching the original Star Trek series again since September 8 was the 50th anniversary of the premiere. We’ve also watched some of the special features with segments by the writers. More than once writers related times when they were up against the clock to finish the script for the next episode, and how, by some miracle, they managed to produce an exceptional story, one the fans and critics loved. Thanks again, Star Trek for saving the day!

So, my conclusion: I can finish the rewrites and have an exceptional manuscript ready in about a month by being focused and determined. To that end I’ve changed my daily schedule around. So that I go straight to my office to write first thing. This way all the ideas I woke up with are emptied out onto the computer screen and later in the day when I go to meditate etc., my mind is less cluttered. It’s working so far, four chapters down, thirty-one to go.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Restless Curiosity

Tarantula Nebula
Tarantula Nebula

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~ Walt Disney

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

“As children, our imaginations are vibrant, and our hearts are open. We believe that the bad guy always loses and that the tooth fairy sneaks into our rooms at night to put money under our pillow. Everything amazes us, and we think everything is possible. We continuously experience life with a sense of newness and unbridled curiosity.” ~ Yehuda Berg

For the last week or so I’ve been getting ready for a new semester, while at the same time doing a long overdue clearing, and reorganizing of my office. I thought I’d feel better getting these tasks done, but I don’t. I feel anxious and restless as evidenced by the fact that I’m having a difficult time meditating, not able to concentrate on my Tai Chi, and on top of it all, reading at night has become a chore. All of this is not like me at all. Finally this morning I understood what’s going on. It’s because I’m not making time to write. My mind is filled with all kinds of ideas for the projects I’m working on, but I haven’t taken the time to put them into the computer. The only writing I’ve done is to keep up with these weekly blog posts.

This break in my creative expression has caused a great deal of tension between what needs to be done, and what I long to be doing. The tension is getting so bad that I’m feeling shaky, muddled, and irritated.

My sister and I were talking on the phone about this very thing the other day – we talk almost every day – and she was saying that her back has been bothering her, she’s having trouble sleeping, and her job has become extremely boring. The reason she is experiencing these irritations is because she’s planning a new venture but there have been irritating little things holding up the process. However, instead of waiting for the perfect time to get started, she’s just going to begin. I’m excited for her and I completely understand what she’s experiencing. I’m feeling like that too. So I’m going to follow her example and go back to making writing my top priority again, even though I’m not quite finished with my other tasks. I know doing this will restore the balance in my well-being.

Recently I’ve written about how I’m working on changing my thoughts so I can create a new life, and during that process it has been driven home in a bigger way than ever before that our health and happiness depend on being able to do what we love. Yes, we may have to hold down that job to be able to write or paint, or garden, but making as much time to do what we love best in the world is extremely important. I feel sad for people who don’t know what it is they love doing above all else.

Some advice I picked up from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, is just what I need to be concentrating on right now. Perhaps it will help you too. The advice is this, if you want to live a creative life, you need to follow your curiosity. I love doing this. It’s something I learned from my dad. He would watch something on television, or get an idea from something he read and then he’d follow the thread to learn more about the subject. His curiosity knew no bounds. Often when we were taking family trips, he’d look for fun detours so we could learn something new and interesting. I loved those side trips.

My recent descent into restlessness just points out the fact that I’ve let myself get into a rut. It’s time to shake up my life and try some new activities. Which is why I’ll go back to writing the fantasy story I began this summer about a girl and a dragon. To that end I’ve been reading lots of young adult fiction, fantasy and medieval historical books. Though I love reading these types of stories, I’ve never tried to write one before. These books have given me an education about how to turn a known genre on it’s head and make it new and exciting. That’s what I’d like to do. It’s a fun challenge. But just recently I tripped myself up when I made the decision to read a mystery. While I love a good mystery, reading one now doesn’t help my process of writing a fantasy story, which is why I’ll go back to learning as much as I can from the genre I’m now working on.

As the summer is winding down and we’re getting back into fall and winter routines, I will look for other interesting opportunities and activities to help feed my creativity. I hope you’ll join me in trying something new. Who knows where our curiosity will lead us.

Thanks for following. I hope you share this with your friends and family.

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

Trust the Process

Butterfly Close up“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” ~ Golda Meir

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.” ~ Paulo Coelho, Brida

“We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end.” ~ Blaise Pascal

“… sometimes when we are beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, ‘Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.’ “ ~ Brené Brown, Rising Strong

For several months I’ve felt the ground quaking underneath me. Sometimes change is a slight breeze and sometimes it’s like an 8.5 earthquake. It feels to me like we’re living through one of those seminal times in history when enormous changes take place. My personal life is also going through massive changes. On the one hand, I’m rejoicing. It feels like many good things are going to happen. On the other hand, I’m scared to death. What are these changes going to require of me? Like Iyanla Vanzant says, “When you’re about to try something new, a little trickle of pee should be running down your leg.” Well, I feel like peeing. Yet a comforting voice inside is also saying, “Trust the process.”

That’s kind of hard to do when my modus operandi is also changing. Up until recently, I was the peacemaker in my family. I was the one in the middle who tried to help all the sides come together to work out their differences. But about a year and a half ago, a family row pushed me to set my boundaries and declare the new me. I learned a great deal from that event. First off, it was difficult to be vulnerable enough to state my true feelings and declare that I wasn’t going to be caught in the middle any longer. I risked making some of my family members mad at me, which in fact did happen. But hiding my true feelings away to protect someone else isn’t really living up to my true potential. The second thing I knew already but had to reaffirm to myself was the fact that everyone is always doing the very best that they can at all times. Even though that is true, relationships are still a rough road to navigate because we get caught up in our emotions and our particular point of view.

That family fracas was, in my opinion, a kind of coming out event. I felt apprehensive being bold and declaring my real self, but I gained a large portion of self-love and respect during the process. Ever since that day, I’ve been taking a good look at my old life and throwing out attitudes which no longer fit the new me. I’m learning to be comfortable with the uncertainty of where I will end up since coming out of my cocoon. A side effect of my declaration is that my life is becoming a fun new adventure.

I believe if we’re open to it, our lives go through a reset every once in a while. Or maybe it’s a period of throwing out our trash, or a kind of molting into a new skin. If we’ve chosen to continue to grow and learn, we can’t help but shed the old and expand into the new.

One thing that this transformational period has done for me is to thrust me into an explosively creative period. I’ve got ideas for new projects and ways to make my novel better coming at me fast and furiously. It’s kind of like a spigot has been turned on and I can’t get the new ideas into the computer fast enough.

One of the latest ideas I’ve had is a book titled What If. From a young age sitting in church, or listening to the news, reading a book, watching a movie, or having conversations with my friends, I’ve asked what if that’s not how thus and such happened? What if people could interact with each other differently? What if religious doctrine got it wrong? This is fair warning, I’m going to start writing essays about these questions into this blog from time to time so that at a future date I can put them into a book.

This post is kind of all over the place. Writing is my way of trying to navigate my own thoughts and feelings about the extraordinary things I’m experiencing. I do have to say that I find this birth, death, rebirth process exciting. Where and who will I be in ten or fifteen years? What will the world look like, and what will we all have created only Divine Oneness knows. Curiosity is bubbling up inside me. I want to see what the changes will bring.

Thanks for reading. Share this post with your friends if you’ve a mind to, or leave a comment.

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

The Creative Life

Calla Lilies
Calla Lilies

“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” ~ Brené Brown

“Curiosity is what keeps you working steadily, while hotter emotions may come and go.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

A few days ago I began reading, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about living a creative life without fear. Some books blow your mind, others help you work through trauma, others are just plain fun. Then there are the books that confirm your feelings, your point of view. Those books can give you courage to continue on the road you’ve chosen. Big Magic is that kind of book for me.

Though I’ve only been writing for eight years and consider myself a new writer, I do have years of experience in the world of theatre. And to echo something from Elizabeth’s book, when you commit yourself to the creative life, you have to stick with it through thick and thin. I’ve been cast as characters that were very different from me and consequently very difficult to play because I had a hard time relating to them. On the other hand I’ve played characters that were so much like me that it was difficult to know where the character ended and I began.

Writing is like that too. Some days I sit down to write my weekly blog post or work on my novel and the words flow out my fingers with little need of revision. Other times I struggle with the concepts I’m trying to convey. I write, then dump whole sections or sometimes begin over. Since I’m under a deadline for my blog, I have to publish it even though what I’ve written may not adequately express the idea that’s been running around in my head looking for an outlet.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I’d like to try my hand at writing essays and stories to send to publications with open submissions. One particular opportunity struck my fancy. The magazine, Story has called for submissions on the theme of identity. When I saw that, I thought, “I have lots to say on that topic,” and I began writing. That was over two months ago and I’m still struggling with the piece. The deadline for submission is fast approaching and I have too much to say about identity. I can’t narrow my thoughts down into a coherent whole. It’s like when I get close to a vital idea for the piece it floats away from me. As a result I may not get it together in time to submit it for publication.

I was feeling discouraged about that, but after reading Big Magic, my viewpoint has changed. Maybe I’m not supposed to write about identity. On the other hand a story idea flitted toward me the other day, and it’s demanding attention. This story wants to be written, and written by me. Elizabeth’s theory is that creative ideas float around until they find the person who is supposed to bring the idea to life. That’s how this new story idea feels to me, unlike the essay on identity. I’ll continue to work on the essay until it tells me to quit. That’s all a creative person can do, follow the breadcrumbs and see where they lead you.

You also have to put your work out into the world anyway you can. Last night in the section I was reading, Elizabeth related a story of the first piece she had published. The title of the story was “Pilgrims”, and the editor of Esquire magazine wanted to publish it. She was ecstatic. Finally after years of trying, her work would be published in a major magazine. Then she got a call. A large advertising sponsor had backed out of placing their ads and the editor would have to reduce the number of pages for the edition that was to include her story. They wanted to know if she would be willing to cut her ten page story by thirty percent. She could wait for a future publication, but the magazine business was changeable, her contact warned, and her story might never be published. She chose to rewrite the story and it turned out to be a good thing she did, because two months later, the editor left for a new position and her story would have gone into oblivion.

Choosing the creative life sends the practitioner off into a mysterious world. There are peaks and valleys. One day everything is going well with your project and the next, the idea well is dry, or tastes funny, or has gone underground and is flowing toward another artist. All we can do is commit to the work. I find that the deeper my commitment, the more I’m supported by the creativity fairies who sometimes lead me in directions I had no intention of going. Yet, I’ve committed myself to them, so I must follow. The point is, I look forward every morning to sitting down at my computer and following the breadcrumbs left for me that day.

Well, this is one of those blog posts that is kind of all over the place. My ideas are still not completely formed. The ideas from Big Magic are still drifting around in my head, and out in the ethers waiting to crystalize. That doesn’t matter. I’ll publish this post anyway.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016