Positive thinking Archives

Blog: THE COLDEST WINTERS OF OUR LIVES:

Using the Changing Seasons in Your Writing

(Dedicated to Mervin Vann

Sunrise July 7, 1919 Sunset February 12, 2003)

By Dr. Maxine E. Thompson

http://www.maxinethompson.com

http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com

(First Published on www.noveladvice.com in November 2002)

I had not seen snow in 21 years, that is, until I recently rode through a
snowstorm in Cheyenne, Wyoming mountains. Nor did I clearly remember
how the leaves change in autumn on the east coast, and how they resemble
flames leaping towards the sky in shades of persimmon, cardamom, amber,
burgundy and rust. But I recently witnessed all this and more by going to the
Baltimore Book Festival the weekend of September 27, 2002. Although I could
write about having an exquisite dinner at the Renaissance Hotel overlooking
the harbor, or the workshop I conducted on “Writing Compelling Fiction,” I found that
most of all, the seasons really spoke to me.

These two incidents—the snow and the leaves changing—reminded me
how much I have missed the pageantry of the seasons. As I took a slow
leisurely trip across the states, I thought of how living in the Los Angeles area
for the last 21 years has blinded me to the changing seasons. Even so, I don’t
know if this would have helped me to recognize another passing season in my
life. I am facing the impending loss of my last living parent. My father, age 83,
who has crippling arthritis, has deteriorated since I saw him last year.
Surprisingly, I do not feel sadness, but a resignation, a sense that this is part of
the life cycle. Like the song, “Everything must change.”

This is a very different reaction from when I lost my mother. I was so
totally unprepared when my mother died of a sudden heart attack on
December 1, 1993 that I felt a rage, almost a railing against God. How could
You? How dare You take this woman, who I was just realizing was my root,
who carried me inside of her, whose very hand movements I saw mimicked in
my own? This period was to become what I later saw as the darkest winter of
my life. Looking back, I think my reaction was part of what often marks the
loss of the first parent, particularly the mother.

These are the things, we, as writers, must mark in our writing–the
changing seasons of our lives, of our characters, of their journeys and how our
characters react to them.

After the Baltimore Book Festival, I stopped in Detroit. While there, I
took my father out from his new residence—a nursing home—to get a
milkshake at McDonald’s, and while pushing him in his wheelchair, I felt like
the parent. I was no longer angry about his being human, his frailties, his
failings, (which have been more glaring since my mother’s death.) I just wanted
him to feel the sun on his tissue-like skin, through which you could see the blue
veins.

I immersed myself totally in the moment. We were enjoying the
sunshine. No matter all the calls I’d received from my hometown, Detroit,
about how horrible it is about Daddy―he’s in this new crisis, or―that new
crisis—I was no longer upset. In the manner of a former social worker, I
decided to reframe the issue. Instead of looking at my father’s slow demise as,
―Isn’t it awful how we grow old and die?

Let’s look at it as how the seasons in life change. As a writer, we often write from the
premise―What if …

So, I say, what if we reframe some of the issues of being part of the sandwich
generation—dealing with children/grandchildren/elderly parents? What if this
is a celebration?

I saw my father’s mood lift as I told him how fortunate he was to have
four sons who have looked out for him, as well as three daughters. How
blessed he is as a Black man, to have children who have made his life better,
financially, when we all went to work. I saw the relief in my brothers’ eyes as I
commended them for the good care they’ve provided for my father over the
past nine years, which includes putting him in a nursing home in the past
month, even if it has been against my father’s wishes, but was for his greater
good.

Then it hit me. My siblings and I are now the older generation.

Moreover, as a writer, I am now a teacher—the young come to me for advice. I
am responsible to hand down the stories from past generations to the next
generation as to how we, as a people, survived, which is why I feel it is
important for us to write down our stories. Sadly, for African-Americans, much
history was lost because, although there was the oral tradition, many people
failed to write their stories down on paper.

As a writing technique, I saw a pattern. In writing, a symbolic spring and
summer generally connote an upward spiral in our characters’ lives. For
instance, the characters fall in love, buy a home, have a baby, and get
promotions. They are happy.

Paradoxically, a figurative fall and winter generally depict a downward
spiral, which is often called the ―inciting incident, in a story. Someone no
longer loves you and leaves you. Someone dies suddenly. Or perhaps a loved
one is the victim of senseless violence. The character becomes sad. Like a
sudden blizzard upsetting one’s orderly life, the character’s world is thrown out
of balance.

This is the heart of fiction. No one wants to hear about how great your
character’s life is. Fiction is about trouble. So even the perfect life needs to get
upset to keep your reader turning pages. At the same time, though, I think that
we should learn to see the good in these downward spirals and make use of
them in our writing. Although these bad times are what compel the reader on,
we should show the upside of this, too. It is generally during the ―symbolic
winter that our character’s mettle will be tested, and the reader will find out
what the character is made from. Meantime, the reader will astroproject,
go on this journey and be made better for it.

As a writer, you might ask, how does the character
change and grow through this wintry season? Does he go from cynical to
optimistic? Mistrustful to trusting? Stingy to altruistic (such as Scrooge)? The
character can also go through the reverse of these cycles.

Ironically, just as winter signifies death, (eg. death of a relationship, death
of our youth, death of our illusions,) there is a certain element of resurrection
in this final eventuality. For it is generally after we go through a disaster, we are
plopped flat on our backs, sometimes literally, and forced, (even if against our
will,) to reflect. What comfort or sustenance does the character find then?
For instance, to this day, I marvel at how my mother is reborn over and over again
on a wintry day when I drink a hot cup of soup, which was one of her many
ways of nurturing and healing.

Now I wonder. What memories will my father’s last winter bring me?
Will it be his love of a good anecdote or his story-telling ability that he handed
down to me? I don’t know.

But this I do know. In the midst of life, we are in death, so as writers we must embrace those special, magical moments that make up our humanity. After all, as John Irving ended his novel in The World
According To Garp, ― … we are all terminal cases.

About the author: Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, Internet Radio Show Host, literary agent, editor, and ghostwriter. She is the author of novels, The Ebony Tree, Hostage of Lies, LA Blues trilogy, Short Story Collection, A Place Called Home, 3 novellas, The Katrina Blues, Capri’s Second Chance, Summer of Salvation, 5 Nonfiction eBooks, The Hush Hush Secrets Series for Writing, and Affirmations and Essays for Melanoid People. She has contributed to 5 anthologies.

Gearing up for 2017 by Dr. Maxine Thompson

Dr. Maxine Thompson
http://www.maxinethompson.com,
http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com,

“Ask, and it shall be given you; Seek, and ye shall find; Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
Luke 11:9

Have you ever known someone who spent all her time talking about what she was going to do when she retired, then she dropped dead just before, or shortly after retirement?

How did you feel when that happened? Whenever this happens, I always feel that this person wasted her “today” time, living for “tomorrow”, which never came.

Now how about people who followed their dreams and stopped waiting for that elusive retirement brass ring?

I speak from experience because that’s exactly what I did. On October 31, 1997, due to health reasons, I walked off a high-stress job as a social worker (I had been in this field for twenty-three years at this point,) and have not looked back.

As I was facing these health challenges, life took on a new perspective that went something like this: “If I had one day to live, is this what I want to be doing?” In my heart, I would always get a resounding, “NO!”

I don’t know about you, but 9-11 was also a wake-up call for me. In the aftermath, I noticed in the media where family members reconciled who hadn’t spoken to each other in years. People changed careers and left intolerable situations that they had been tolerating. Across the board, everyone realized that life was short and that they needed to make the best of it.

Don’t get me wrong. It was not an easy path to follow, but it was the best one—when I look back. That first year I left behind my familiar pattern of getting up, fighting L.A. gridlock traffic, and going to work, I felt lost. I didn’t know how I was going to make it financially.

What I learned on the journey is there is never a perfect time to make your move to pursue your dreams. You should save up, plan, but eventually you have to take the leap.

Since that time, I have owned my own Internet radio show at the now defunct www.maxineshow.com, (which I might start back up) and have hosted three other Internet radio shows on other networks, such as www.voiceamerica.com, (March 2002 to December 2005), www.artistfirst.com (since March 2004) (where I still host) and www.harambeeradio.com.

As the owner of Black Butterfly Press, Maxine Thompson’s Literary Services and Thompson Literary Agency found at www.maxinethompson.com, and www.maxinethompsonbooks.com, I also own a nonprofit, Maxine Thompson’s Literary and Educational Services, in order to give back to my community. I was even conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities in April 2005.

I have also negotiated over 100 book deals for other writers as a literary agent and have edited or ghostwritten over 1,000 books. In addition, I am the author of 17 titles. This is the Act III, or my second career in my life. All of these endeavors grew out of my passion, not out of my bank account.

Do I have any regrets? No. I have challenges, but I don’t think I would have lived to this age had I stayed in the job I was on. I’ve heard of many of my former social work colleagues dying over the past 19 years. I’m sure stress had a lot to do with it.

Let’s face it. Too many women often are not living their lives to the full. Many report they feel they are living for everyone else in the family. Although we want to have a life of balance, we don’t know how to get it. As women, we’ve been trained to think struggle and sacrifice for others is what we should do.

Well, one way to bring our lives into more balance is through affirmations. What if we could reinvent our lives through thinking positive thoughts?

More than ever, we are in need of sayings to help give us control over the qualities of our days. Just as our ancestors used old sayings to help them survive—in spite of racism, sexism, ageism, and classism—we need to revisit the ‘old ways.’

Whether we are working as secretaries, working at McDonald’s, or running a company, we need peace.

In the creative arenas, for women filmmakers, writers, publishers, and those wanting to become artists of sorts, there is a need to decode and recode symbols for our culture. If we don’t do it ourselves, it won’t get done.

We need to reclaim our bodies, our souls and our lives. Affirmations can help us get closer to our goals.

In the main, why do we need affirmations? Because today, women are dying from stress. One woman told me, “I guess I have to die in order to get some rest.” And she died shortly after that. That’s exactly what’s happening. We are dying at younger ages and at an alarming rate.

However, the good news is this. We are living in an exciting time, filled with possibilities, so why not take advantage of these times?

One reason is that we now live in an age of spiritual enlightenment, interdependence, and access to information that only the rich enjoyed at one time. We have the Internet, which levels the playing field for everyone. With the Internet, you can start a business on a shoestring budget. You can meet friends on a global level because of the different communities on line. You can start podcasts and alternate medias on Youtube. In fact, you can start your own communities of interest.

Why not become the artist of your own life? Use affirmations to redesign your life and find your joy. Find ways to create multiple streams of income with technology. We now have money that can be made through twitter, facebook, linked in, Instagram, and other social media groups.

For in order to have fun and enjoy life, you have to throw out all the mental “what-I-should do’s” and “must-erbations” and follow your own heart. If you are doing work you love, it will feel like play. Learn to live authentically from your very soul.

Creating a life you love will help determine the quality of your health, your happiness, and sometimes, even your longevity. The benefits from doing what you love and living a passionate life are too many to enumerate. (By the way, my health problems have lessened.)

As an African American female baby boomer, I’d like to break ground for the younger generation behind me. I’d like to disrupt our conventional thinking. Each generation should progress beyond what the generation before them accomplished.

Why not make these the best years of your life, whatever age you are? Never forget that life is tenuous. It can be taken from you without a minute’s notice.

So use affirmations to help heal and to change your life. Start feeling like you’re a co-creator with God, instead of a victim of your circumstances.

Go into 2017 with a new attitude. Don’t put off what you can do today for that elusive tomorrow.

“I will connect with the world through technology for the betterment of humanity.”
Taken from Affirmations and Essays for Melanoid People
http://amzn.to/2i1MVn6




Dr. Maxine Thompson Live Internet Radio Shows
This Week’s Guest – Monday, September 12, 2016


Maxine Thompson

Dr. Maxine Thompson,
Publisher, Literary Agent, Author, Host of Internet Show is cross-referenced to her other businesses

Dr. Maxine ThompsonArtist First Internet Radio


Dr. Maxine invites you to join her this week on her various shows where she will be speaking with some interesting people.


September 12, 2016



9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

This Week’s Guest – Monday, September 12, 2016

Email dj@artistfirst.com with questions for the author or Dr. Maxine Thompson


September 12, 2016

Ora Nadrich
Author of
Says Who?
How One Simple Question Can Change the Way You Think Forever


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January 4, 2010

Dr. Maxine Thompson

Author of
Hostage of Lies

Voted A Best Book of 2009

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Black Butterfly Press

If you are interested in becoming a guest and/or a sponsor you may visit:

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