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

How I Get My Ideas

Shakespeare - Great ideas
Shakespeare – Great ideas

“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

“I don’t know exactly where ideas come from, but when I’m working well ideas just appear. I’ve heard other people say similar things – so it’s one of the ways I know there’s help and guidance out there. It’s just a matter of our figuring out how to receive the ideas or information that are waiting to be heard.” ~ Jim Henson

“My creative process is quite slow. I hear melodies in my head while I’m washing the dishes and I allow my subconscious to do the work.” ~ Sinead O’Connor

I’m in the process of writing my first novel and the question I get asked the most when people hear me talk about it is, “How did you get the idea for your book?” That’s something that’s kind of hard to explain unless you’re a writer too. I don’t think the muses visit people who are highly creative in exactly the same ways, but here’s how it happens for me.

First of all, a writer doesn’t get just one idea. Okay, maybe initially we do get one idea. But during the writing process I’ve had hundreds of ideas. Some ideas made it into the book, others I chucked because they slowed down the story, or I discovered they didn’t fit with the overall message I was trying to get across.

To tell you how I got the initial idea for my novel, first I have to tell you my internal thought process. The way I learn from my experiences. When something happens, or a new idea occurs to me, I often set it on the back burner of my mind. I let it simmer along with all the other things I’m trying to figure out. I’m not really paying active attention to those simmering ideas, yet they are there. At some point I may see a movie, read a book, hear a song, or someone says something to me that applies to one of those pots that I’ve got simmering and I make a connection. A light bulb goes off and I have an aha moment. The two seemingly unrelated concepts have come together to give me a completely new idea. They finally make sense.

That’s also often how I get material for this blog. That’s definitely what happened when I got the idea for The Space Between Time, my novel. And it keeps happening little by little as I continue to work on and revise the book.

The initial incident was this: It was 1999. My husband and I had moved to Arizona three years earlier to be near our parents who had all retired here. Part of our motivation for moving was because my father had heart disease and not knowing how long he had to live, we wanted to be close to him. One weekend, we drove the five hours to see my parents. Something about that weekend made me feel that my father had taken a turn for the worse and was on a descent to his eventual death. As we drove home, I was thinking about my father and all the wonderful things he’d taught me and wondering how I’d cope with his not being here. Then the kernel of an idea for a book about the relationship between a father and a daughter came to me. In a way, it would be my tribute to my father. When I got home I began to write.

Unfortunately for the book project, I got a full-time teaching job very soon after and didn’t have time for writing. However, I put it on the back burner of my mind and thought about it often.

Finally, several years later, I’d had enough of teaching high school and began my writing career. But for some reason, I felt compelled to write a memoir first. However, when it was finished, I decided not to publish it. There was one advantage to writing the memoir before the novel. I got a perspective on all the things I’d learned over the years especially those things I’d learned from my father.

At first, after finishing my memoir, I was a little stumped what my next writing project should be. Then I remembered the novel I’d started all those years ago. This was now 2010 and my father had passed away in 2004. I’d had sufficient time to mourn his passing and to get a handle on the nature of our relationship. When I hit upon going back to the novel, I was happy to pick up where I’d left off.

I’d set my story in the past, 1858 was where it began, but at about the half-way point of finishing my manuscript, I came to stand still. My novel needed something new. For a month or two I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to say with my story. Just when I was beginning to get frustrated, I got the inspiration I needed. Something someone said, clicked with my thoughts and feelings about my novel, and I had that blessed aha idea that helped send me off in a new direction with my book. All of sudden I was energized. It wasn’t long, relatively speaking, until I had finished the rough draft. Now, of course, the real work of revising and polishing began.

As I worked on the book revisions, I understood that the real technique I use to help me find inspiration is related to daydreaming. When I was stumped about how to fix a scene, I’d spend a little bit of time allowing my mind to wander. I’d read a book, or watch a movie, or sit and watch the sunrise or sunset then the answer would come. Every day I give myself time to have no mental tasks at all, or at least not strenuous mental tasks. In all honesty, I can’t say my mind is ever quiet, except for short periods during meditation. I’ve learned that answers to questions I’m asking about any aspect of my life, can’t be forced. I have to let go and trust that the perfect answer for whatever dilemma I’m wrestling with will present itself in time.

Most of the time my best ideas come in the netherworld between sleeping and waking, or while driving, or taking a shower, or doing housework, because all the while, I’m still connected to all those simmering ideas on the back burner of my mind but I’m not consciously thinking about them. I give myself permission to allow something in the movie, or book, or song to trigger an idea that fits the project I’m working on. In fact, I got the idea for the title to my novel while listening to a Beatles song one night on the way home from teaching my college class. And the funny thing is, I don’t remember which song it was, but that’s not what’s important. It’s that my mind was open to suggestions from the ethers to the problem of what to name my book. Then at the right time, the answer came.

Let me say that just because I’ve shared my method for getting ideas for creative projects with you, doesn’t mean you have to do it like I do. Everyone has their own way. The important thing is to let go and let yourself discover how ideas come to you. Being creative involves trust. You have to trust that a way to express what you’ve longed to share will come to you. Then when it does, create whatever you’re inspired to create.

One final important thing to remember is, don’t judge your work, especially when you first start out. Just create the work and let it go. You’ll get better as you practice, and more ideas will come to you. It’s kind of like learning to walk or talk. When we first stood on our feet, we fell down, when we first tired to speak we couldn’t pronounce the words very well, but the more we practiced the better we got, because we learned to use our muscles to the best advantage. Creativity is another muscle that needs to be developed and the more we use it the stronger it gets.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Never Give Up!

Earth from the Moon
Earth from the Moon

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” ~ William A. Ward

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Strength and growth come only from continuous effort and struggle.” ~ Napoleon Hill

There is a great deal that can be said for never giving up on something you want. There have been times when I’ve wanted to quit a project, or give up striving for that degree. But when I didn’t it turned out to be a good thing.

I’ve recently finished another round of revisions on my novel. This time I had to make some major changes. There might be people who would balk at the tedious work of going through their manuscript page by page to catch mistakes and to take big blocks of text and either eliminate them, or put then in a new place. Yet this is my passion so every word closer to publication is a victory.

The best most successful stories and the lives of real people who inspire us are the ones where the protagonist or the real person kept persevering even through all of the pain and heartache. If I could, I’d include a photo of the Sistine Chapel. Talk about being dedicated to your work.

So many people have told me how much they admire my stick-to-itiveness when it comes to working on my book. Many of them say, “I don’t think I would have the patience to stick with writing through all the years and all the meticulous work as you have done. I admire you.” It’s nice to have their admiration. However, when someone compliments me like that, it makes me more determined to keep working because my job isn’t finished yet. On the other hand, I hope that they find the one thing that they would dedicate their life to because it is a joyous feeling to wake up in the morning and know you get to do what you love.

That’s all I had to say today. I’m just coming home from vacation and don’t have lots of time to get this post ready for publication. Besides, I’ve got to go through my manuscript again to make sure the changes I made to it make sense then send it off to my writer friends for more comments.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Late Bloomers

Fall Flowers at La Fuente
Fall Flowers at La Fuente

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

“No one can avoid aging, but aging productively is something else.” – Katharine Graham

“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.” – Doug Larson

“The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. The experience of spiritual power is basically a joyful one.” – M. Scott Peck

I’m proud to say I’m a late bloomer. It’s not that I didn’t accomplish anything when I was younger, I did. It’s just that it took me a long time to put down roots deep enough to realize what it was I really wanted to do when I grew up. When I could finally say I loved myself, I was mature enough to be able to acknowledge that I was a loving, talented woman who could admit my mistakes and embrace myself as I am. In other words, I finally let all the silly ego stuff go and just loved myself. And I’m grateful for that because I love what I’m doing now, writing. It’s the happiest work I’ve ever done, except maybe being on stage. Being an actor was exhilarating, but it wasn’t quite the right fit in terms of my deepest passion. Teaching has also been a joy in my life, but I never felt the deepest ecstasy I feel when I’m writing.

The thing about being a later bloomer, is that I’ve lived long enough now to have a measure of wisdom to share with others. When I was younger, my mind was cluttered with erroneous ideas, and assumptions. I’ve had lots of years to weed out my mental and emotional garden so I can bloom.

Some place along the line of my study of spirituality, I picked up the idea that true happiness comes by delaying our urge for instant gratification. I think that idea may have come from M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled which was one of the first books that opened my eyes to a much wider and deeper spiritual world. When I read that book, I dedicated my life to learning to love myself first, then sharing it with others through my talents. It hasn’t always been easy, as I’m sure you know. But my dedication has brought me to a place where I am not afraid to follow my passion. If I can do it so can everyone else. It’s important to follow your dreams and do what you love, because it’s in doing that that the world is healed.

I don’t mean to belittle those who find their passion early. No, we need all the flowers in the garden to make the world a much more beautiful place in which to live. So, my advice is, no matter what your age, go find the thing that makes you the most happy and pursue that. At some point your passions may change. That’s okay. Mine did. When you find a new passion pursue that. The benefits to your soul are immeasurable, and the service you bring by sharing the love of what you’re doing sends out positive ripples. We may never know the effect we have, but in a way, that’s leaving a very powerful legacy for the future.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog. Pass it on, leave a comment if you choose, and connect with me on social media.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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