Writing Prompts from the Universe

Thunderstorm over Corfu

“Without disruptions in life, where would we be?” ~ Sarah Gadon

Just lately I have found inspiration for my second novel from some unusual places.

A week or so ago, my husband and I watched My Mother and Other Strangers on our local PBS station. It’s the story of the narrator remembering his childhood during WW II in Northern Ireland. His reflections are about his mother an English woman living in a foreign land. For the most part she’s lived a happy life, teaching at the local school, helping her husband with his grocery store, and pub. Then the Americans establish a training base for flyers nearby. Rose, the narrator’s mother, is most affected by the arrival of the Americans, though the entire village is disrupted by prejudice and resentment.

In the first episode, the base liaison officer, Captain Dreyfuss meets Rose Coyne on her daily walk by the lake shore. He surprises her by quoting her favorite poet and that more than anything disturbs her efforts to be content in a place she never felt she truly belonged. They meet again when Captain Dreyfuss is looking to establish a relationship with a local person with whom he can work to solve issues pertaining to the base and their presence in the town. His intention is to ask Rose’s husband Michael to be that person, but due to Michael’s schedule, Rose ends up taking on the role.

As I was watching Rose’s awakening to the forgotten parts of herself she left behind when she married, I felt I could understand her. And Rose’s experience prompted me to think about Jenna, Morgan, and the other women in the novel I’m working on in a new way. They are all struggling with being a women in their respective time periods. It’s such a complicated situation for each group of women. I want to show how my characters deal with their personal and political struggles. How does their involvement in their respective women’s movements affect their families, and their communities?

Life can be capricious. Sometimes it’s just a little thing that happens to disrupt our view of ourselves but when it happens it feels like a tsunami. All the pieces of our nicely constructed lives fall apart and we have to decided to rebuild it exactly as it was before, or build something new.

Then last night Barry and I were watching the third season of Shakespeare Uncovered, again on PBS. The segment we watched was about The Merchant of Venice, a play Barry and I did his first year in college. It’s how we began getting to know one another. When the segment was over, Barry said, “I don’t remember us discussing, or stressing all those layers of meaning in our production.” And I had to agree with him. It was forty years ago, after all. But having just directed a Shakespeare play last spring, and taking two classes studying his plays, I have to say that Shakespeare was a master of intertwining many themes into his stories. One director and cast could pick one play, do it every year or so, and still keep learning from it.

And listening to F. Murray Abraham talk to cast members, directors, and scholars about the play, sent me back to my novel. The best stories, in my opinion, have many different themes, like all of Shakespeare’s plays. I guess that’s why we have used stories for centuries to teach our values to our children, define our cultures, and figure out the complexities of life. The stories that survive do that so well that we can still relate to them centuries later.

I want to write a story like that one day. I’ll never be Shakespeare, but if I keep practicing writing, I may write a story that will live on past my lifetime. Is it presumptuous to have such a goal?

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I’ll have another post for you next Saturday. Have a fantastic weekend.

Lucinda Sage-MIdgorden © 2018

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, novel, and 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.