The Writing Life

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

I don’t often post about what it’s like for me to be a writer, but today Anne Bogel’s blog was about her writing life. I love her podcast, “What Should I Read Next,” and have mentioned it before. But I’ve never mentioned that she not only has two podcasts, but a blog as well. I don’t know how she keeps up with those endeavors along with social media, writing books, and being a mom all at the same time. I have a hard enough time teaching one or two classes, writing this blog once a week and working on my books. I admire people who are organized.

It’s not that I’m not organized, it’s that I’m not the spread-sheet-making-lists-ticking-every-item-off-the-list kind of organized. My organization is more in the keeping-a-notebook-with-all the-jumble-of information-in-it kind.

Many articles and books have been produced about the different types of writers. Some writers create outlines and once they’ve plotted everything out to their satisfaction they then sit down and follow that outline to the letter. There are those who do a little bit of plotting, but leave it flexible in case inspiration strikes. Other writers get ideas for individual scenes write them and then organize them later into a viable story. Then there are writers at the opposite end of the spectrum from the plotters who sit down with an idea and begin to write. They may have only a starting and maybe an endpoint but they trust that the story will appear as they write. These writers are called “pantsers,” because they write by the seat of their pants.

I’m a little bit of a “get an idea for a scene” type, and a “pantser.” Oh, I do write a brief timeline for my characters at the beginning of the process, but often inspiration leads me in other directions and the original timeline is left behind.

For me, the hardest part of writing is the initial getting the story down on paper stage. It’s a little bit like listening to a voice on a mistuned radio. I know the voice has great ideas, I just can’t hear them clearly. So, I write in starts and stops to begin with. Once I get about 15,000 words in, the story begins to take shape in my mind. That’s when I wake up with more scene ideas to add to the story.

Once I get to a certain point, which I feel in my gut, I know it’s time to revise. I love revising the various drafts, because I get more ideas in that netherworld between sleeping and waking, or when I’m doing some tedious household chore. The feeling such inspiration gives me is exhilarating. It’s that feeling that keeps me writing.

Okay, I admit the final line editing process is tedious. When we were editing The Space Between Time, it seemed as if the process would never end. Even after printing out the entire book and going over it more than once, with what I thought was great care, we still had to order more than one proof because we found so many errors in each one. That kind of detail work is just not for me.

Having written all that, I have to say that no matter what method a writer uses, to make any progress, we have to sit down and write almost everyday. If we don’t the creativity well dries up.

Also, the environment might be important. Some people can write no matter where they find themselves. As a highly sensitive person, I need quiet to be able to concentrate so I can hear the subtle guidance that comes when I’m working. If there is too much noise, I can’t concentrate.

When the fire was lit under me to commit to being a writer, I realized what had been holding me back. It was self-doubt and believing that there were too many obstacles in the way to accomplish my goal. Those are difficult hurdles to overcome. I do not blame anyone for having self-doubt staring them in the face. It takes a great deal of personal work to overcome our demons to start whatever creative project we feel compelled to begin. At least, it did for me. But now that I’ve been writing for several years, I’ve found such fulfillment that I’m grateful I ignored those nasty little voices in my head and jumped in.

Even though I’ve published a novel and a children’s book, I still feel vulnerable about whether or not they are good. But here’s another thing about engaging in any creative endeavor, you get better the more you practice. I’m a much better writer than I was when I began eleven years ago. I may never be as good as the great authors, but there’s a part of me that knows it doesn’t matter. There is something about creating a work of art that has never existed before that is important. Figuring out myself, and making my contribution, no matter how humble, is why I write.

Oh, and by the way, I will begin the audiobook for The Space Between Time, on Monday. My husband and I are uploading the ebook version to Amazon this weekend.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you get to enjoy your 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. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than 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 and Amazon, 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 copy at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. You can follow her on Facebook or Goodreads. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Doing It Anyway

Rainbow

“Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.” ~ Bo Bennett

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” ~ Cecil Beaton

I’ve been thinking a great deal about my writing process lately. After several months of concentrating on other projects, I’ve finally gone back to my sequel novel, Time’s Echo.

I’ve heard that Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, writes in blocks of scenes. They aren’t connected until she gets to a certain point, and then she shapes them into the story she wants to tell. In a way, I do the same thing. I get an idea for something that happens to my characters. I begin writing that situation. Often I have to go back to it to add more details, or I realize that something needs to be changed. Once it’s in a presentable rough state, I move on.

When I got the idea to write The Space Between Time, my original idea was to write about a father, daughter relationship and how what the daughter learned from her father helped her once he was gone. But as I got into the nitty gritty of the story it became clear that it wanted to be about how my two main characters deal with life shattering events. The death of a parent, loss of a job, loss of romantic relationships, dealing with difficult people. Each woman must face hardships, learn from them, and then build a better life for herself.

While I was writing, I thought this first book would stand alone. But the moment I finished the rough draft, I knew I had to write a sequel novel. The second book would address women’s issues. That was in 2014. I had a clear idea where I wanted Morgan’s story in the past to go. But what Jenna had to deal with in the present was not as clear. So, her story didn’t develop very quickly. Then the @Me Too movement happened, and it has opened up Jenna’s story line. There are now so many possibilities for her character to choose to do. Since it’s the harder of the two storylines to write, I’m letting it percolate on the back burner of my mind while I work on what Morgan’s timeline.

As I’ve been working on Time’s Echo, the idea that we can’t escape our life’s purpose keeps coming up as one of the themes. Morgan in the past, and Jenna in the present come face to face with the way women are treated in their time period. They each have an unavoidable choice to make, get involved, or sit back on the sidelines. I chose for them to become involved, even though that creates tension in their home lives.

While writing about the struggles of Jenna and Morgan, I’ve realized that I’m inspired by people who see some problem that needs to be fixed, and even though the work is dangerous, or seemingly impossible, they do what they can to make things better. And being who I am, those stories make me think about my own life’s purpose. I don’t think I have a huge function in the grand scheme of things. And yet, I do want to change the world in the small ways that are within my power. I’ll never be a Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, or Jesus. But no matter what I’m meant to do, if I try to deny or ignore it, my life will become shallow and vapid. That’s an unacceptable prospect for me.

I think I’m so caught up in all forms of story telling, especially the ones I’m telling, because I get a chance to examine situations that I would never experience in real life. I ask myself, what I’d do if I were in that situation? Would I fight until the end, even if I knew the cause was hopeless? Would I join a cause even if my life was in danger, or I might never see the culmination of all the work I’d put in?

Those are the kinds of questions I’m asking about my characters as I write Time’s Echo. And one more, when someone makes a commitment to a cause that will change society, how does it affect their family? I’m fascinated by the tension between the life a person has been living and the realization that they’re called to step outside their comfort zone. What effects do their decisions make on those around them?

I’m happy to say that I’m nearing the end of Morgan’s storyline. Now to tackle Jenna’s. I’ll keep you posted about how that goes.

Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments. Have a wonderful 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.

3, 2, 1, Launch

Cover for THE SPACE BETWEEN TIME

After seven years, it’s finally happening! In a way it’s hard to believe that The Space Between Time will launch Memorial Day weekend. The book should be available at all ebook retailers by May 30 or 31. it takes Smashwords awhile to format the book for the different e-reader formats.

My husband and I have decided to do what we call a soft launch by publishing the ebook first. In two or three weeks we’ll launch the print-on-demand book, which we hope to make available in both hard and paperback.

It’s been a long, at times frustrating journey, but one that has convinced me that the writing life is for me. I’m already working on the sequel novel tentatively titled Time’s Echo.

Below find the book description, written by my good friend Debrah Strait. It’s much better than the one I wrote. Also endorsements from Debrah and another friend, Dorothy Sander, their books and contact information are also listed. I’m so grateful to both these women for their comments on, and support of my work.

Book description:
Life is not going well for Jenna Holden. Her live-in-fiancé walks out. Instead of the promotion she’s expecting at her book editor job, she’s fired. Her estranged mother is in a terrible accident that may kill her. And Jenna must return to the small town where she grew up to recoup. With all that’s happened she sees no future for herself.

But then, in her mother’s attic, Jenna finds journals written by a long-dead ancestress. They transport her to another time and place, giving her access to the thoughts and feelings of another woman, also alone in the world, who is facing similar trials of heartache and loss. Reading them somehow gives Jenna an escape from her own pain and sorrow, yet offers a doorway to resilience, healing and the joy of a supportive love. Jenna need only find the self-knowledge and courage to step through, into that space between time.

Dorothy Sander endorsement
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden cosmically blends the lives of two women, generations apart, and takes her readers on a compelling journey into the heart, mind and soul of every woman. The Space Between Time is a clever, page turning book. Worlds apart, each woman wrestles with the familial and cultural claims on their lives and the vagaries of life itself. Determined to follow their hearts, no matter where they take them, their severest tests birth their greatest strengths. Separately, yet together, they grow in wisdom and understanding and find their way home to their hearts. A great read.

Dorothy Sander, Author of Finding Hope, Quotes & Inspiration for the Midlife Woman, and founder of AgingAbundantly.com. She can also be found at Dorothy Sander about.me/dsander and Aging Abundantly on Twitter.

Debrah Strait endorsement
This intriguing story of two women, living in two different time periods, caught me early on and never let go. There are accurate historical details, challenges of loss and heartache, mysteries to solve, and love to find for both women, in a well-paced and satisfying read. It is a book to be savored and re-read.

Debrah Strait can be contacted at  debrahstrait.com .  All her books are listed there, along with samples and first chapters. Her e-mail address is listed on the first page::(debrahstrait@yahoo.com)

The Sweet Trade — pirate adventure yarn

The Dragon’s Gold – comic fairy tale

Flash of the Pen –  22 pieces of flash fiction, plus two haiku.

By July, book #4 will be launched. Title: Notes From Bisbee; Twenty years on the Border with killer bees, rattlesnakes, and folks in need of attention. It’s a collections of her Christmas newsletters sent out every year since 1996, a memoir of sorts.

You can find Lucinda at: Facebook writer’s page, Goodreads Author Dashboard, Twitter, and She Writes.

And if you want to join my email list for updates on all my creative projects, click here.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

My Writing Life

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

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~ Anais Nin

“An artist’s job is to make us feel less alone.” ~ Viola Davis

“I always wrote. I wrote from when I was 12. That was therapeutic for me in those days. I wrote things to get them out of feeling them, and onto paper. So writing in a way saved me, kept me company.” ~ Carrie Fisher

As you might surmise from the various quotes above, I’m having difficulty pinning down what I want to express about my writing life. It’s a most profound privilege to wake up every morning and try to grasp those wispy thoughts and feelings that are demanding to be expressed. But they’re capricious; they like to be chased. They run and hide until I catch their shirt tails and drag them out into the open.

I’ve always had lots to say, even though most of my life I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself. During one very short period in my life, I ventured to share what I had been feeling on an empathetic level, but that hadn’t gone so well, so I retreated and kept quiet. But I met people who told me I had a facility for writing, and what they said planted seeds. It took them a long time to grow, but finally one day I gained enough self-confidence to allow myself to begin to express what had been dammed up for so long.

In almost any story no matter how it’s told, there is always an inciting incident that begins the main character’s journey. My inciting incident was a visit to my parents in 1998 or 1999. My father had been living with heart disease for many years and something about his manner, or the way he talked that weekend, gave me the clue that he was on the downward path toward his eventual death. I was stunned. My dad was my mentor. What would I do without him? It was then the beginnings of The Space Between Time, came flitting through my consciousness. I began work on the book the day after our return home. All I had at that time was Morgan’s story, though her name was Anna in those early drafts.

I was a substitute teacher at the time, and shortly after I began working on the book, I was given first one, then two more long term substitute teaching assignments. Those led me to get my Master’s degree in Education and becoming a full-time teacher. If you’re a teacher you know that there is little time for anything other than your job. But the way I felt about my relationship with my father and the story I wanted to tell about the close relationship between Morgan and her father never left me. In fact I thought a great deal about those two characters. It was as if the story was simmering on the back burner of my mind.

Skip ahead ten years. My father had died in 2004. I missed him terribly, but his influence and love for me continued to guide me. A lot had happened by then. I was forced out of my position teaching drama in one school district and began teaching English in another. In some ways my life had been shattered. In others I was discovering talents I had not known I possessed. Then one day I knew that what others had told me was true. I could be a good writer, and I had lots I wanted to say.

I didn’t go back to my novel when I first began writing full-time. But when I did, it felt right. Every morning I was excited to get to work. I won’t lie and say that it has been easy. There were stretches of weeks when I had no idea how to get from point A to point B in my story, or when I fought writing the raw emotions that the characters were experiencing. I wanted my main characters to learn their lessons without going through the pain and suffering I had gone through because I didn’t want to drag myself through the muck again.

Thank heaven for good friends who kept pushing me to “beat up” my characters. Finally my resistance crumbled, and I made the connection between the satisfaction we feel at the end of a good story, and the main characters overcoming frightening and/or tragic obstacles to win or grow. We can’t skip to the end and be healed in life or in literature. I’ve started work on a sequel novel and a fantasy story and this time I’ll be looking for the best trials and tribulations to get the characters to their eventual transformations.

Next week, I’ll give you a little glimpse into the story of Jenna and her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan and how I came up with the idea to intertwine the two timelines.

If you would like to join my mailing list and get updates on the publication of my books, and new installments to my video series, “Loving Literature”, here is the link.

Welcome to my new followers and thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share this post.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017