Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Tempest of Scattered Leaves

Looking at the fallen leaves, I feel empathy for the trees. At the peak of creativity, my colorful ideas are scattered all over the place. Last Friday a storm straight out of The Tempest blew through Maine. Rain lashed sideways and trees toppled. We lost power. In the dark, I sketched out an outline for a new novel (really plot fragments that could be woven into a narrative later) and quit work for the day.

Then I met two friends for a two-hour lunch at Trattoria Athena, a new Greek restaurant in Brunswick. I highly recommend the gyros and catching up with old friends. Years ago we used to get together weekly for playgroup. Our sons have remained close friends, but we had drifted apart lately. We laughed over how much busier we are driving our teenagers to activities now than when they were toddlers.

Not only am I a soccer mom, I’m a Shakespeare mom. My daughter plays center forward and on weekends Shakespeare takes center stage in her acting class. My son quit soccer to play evil Antonio in The Tempest, with rehearsals every day after school and tech work on weekends. I drive miles for the Bard. Luckily, my young adult novel “as u like it” is about teen actors and Shakespeare so I’ve been observing rehearsal and acting classes, getting double credit for parenting and work.

On the road I rake up inspiration for my novels. It’s hard to know where to draw the line between art and life. Am I writing about teen actors who love Shakespeare because of my kids or do my kids love Shakespeare and acting because I’m writing about it? I like to think that my young adult novel could plant the passion for Shakespeare. It keeps me going…mile after mile after mile.

Photos: back step, front yard maple, backyard maples, view from Bradbury Mountain in Pownell

Shakespeare Watch:

Helen Mirren is playing Prospero in a Miramax production of The Tempest! It looks absolutely amazing (movie release date: 12/10/10.) At my son's school, a talented girl was also cast in the lead role of Prospero. The character is actually more believable with the gender switch.

I'm always on the look out for Shakespeare themed novels. Don't you love the cover of this one?

Illyria by Elizabeth Hand takes Twelfth Night as an inspiration for an illicit love story between cousins who discover the joy of theater. Although Illyria was published (2010) as young adult fiction in the USA, the topic of incest, the 1970’s setting and the literary style make it better suited to an adult audience, in my opinion.

Hand is a Maine author, but Illyria was first published in the UK in 2007. Thank you, Beth Kephart, for the recommendation. No free products were received.


tina said...

Your fall color is looking good! We've had such a drought here that ours is mostly brown. I know the feeling of driving teens everywhere. It is time consuming for sure but before we know it they are grown-all too quickly so the driving is okay. A new novel already? You are most busy!

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

It is nice to see the fall colors--very beautiful and peaceful looking, Sarah. The leaves in the Greenville area are changing-but not fast enough for me!


Tracy :)

Sarah Laurence said...

Tina, this is the brownest autumn except for the red maples. I was just talking with my husband about how much we enjoy our conversations with our son while he’s learning to drive. Thanks for reminding me to savor it. I’m still working on the first draft of NOT CRICKET, but when inspiration strikes, I jot down ideas for later. There’s a growing stack of stories (5!) in my head.

Tracy, I feel like our leaves are turning too quickly. I want to savor it. Do share some of your foliage.

A Cuban In London said...

This is one of those posts that exudes beauty through every pore. The photos are breathtaking. How I wish I could be half as good as you are! :-)

This column for me is a nice segue from my post about parenting over the weekend to JoAnne's book and autumn in general. And now comes your tale about your children and this spectacular season. It's so good that your daughter has learnt to combine brawn and brains. I think it's essential that physical activity has the same priority in a person's life as mental challenges.

After that sad event in your and your family's life over the last week, it's a pleasure to read your weekly column and devour slowly (but surely) your always wonderful images.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Rose said...

Beautiful photos, Sarah! One of these years--maybe when Hubby retires--I'm finally going to take that trip to New England to see the fall color.

I had to laugh about your schedule with teenagers; I often said the same thing--new moms think they're busy, but just wait till they have two or more going in different directions to activities:)

How wonderful that both your children are interested in the theater and Shakespeare in particular! And thanks for the "Tempest" trailer--I haven't seen any ads for it here yet, so I hope it shows in our town.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Love those leaves, gorgeous photos! I miss the colors of fall, living in Southern California. Your life sounds wonderfully full.

walk2write said...

I've often wondered why tempests are such a powerful impetus for change. Is it energy from the physical act of picking up the pieces that get left behind or the adrenaline still in the system after the storm leaves and the fear subsides? Wow! This is a powerful post, Sarah. I hope your works in progress become a published reality soon. Your take on Shakespeare is eagerly anticipated. And so is that movie with Helen Mirren if the trailer is any indication of how good it promises to be.

Alyson | New England Living said...

I've never heard of a Shakespeare mom, but I like the sound of it! I'd much rather be that than a soccer mom.

Your images are stunning! Fortunately, that nor'easter didn't hit Connecticut very hard. Our leaves are still mostly on the trees.

Carol said...

Beautiful Post Sarah! Your photos are striking and brilliant . . . oh, if only it could all last longer. Ah, the ironies or not of life . . . how perfect for a creative process to have your children acting in Shakespearian plays during your writing about the same. I love the video and look forward to the 'Tempest' . . . Helen looks fabulous . . . great cast overall. Thanks for the heads up and sneak peek.

Sarah Laurence said...

ACIL, you encouraged me – I just ran out to take more foliage shots for next week. It did feel like our blogs were in conversation lately. I love that aspect of blogging. It amazes me that my daughter got my creativity, her father’s dexterity and a talent for acting that is all her own. She’s our upgrade! Yes, today my joy in life has returned. Thanks for your understanding.

Rose, you would LOVE New England in autumn. Do come visit. We sometimes have the opposite direction dilemma, but it’s a bit easier now that only one of them is playing soccer. We’ve been dragging the kids to Shakespeare for years. I think my daughter was 6 when she saw The Tempest with Patrick Stewart as Prospero in London - fabulous. The movie isn’t out until December – the first I heard of it was from my son’s director.

Tricia, I’ll be envying you in late November when our leaves have fallen.

w2w, this is not the first time I’ve gotten inspiration for a novel during a storm/power failure. I got the idea for “as u like it” during an ice storm. It can be good to unplug.

Alyson, I feel like I should be driving a carriage instead of a station wagon. I actually get a kick out of watching my daughter play soccer, but I have to admit to being thrilled that my son quit soccer for the Bard. Trying to pick up from 2 teams was a nightmare last year.

Carol, we still have more leaves, and I’ll have more photos. I adore Helen Miren. I can’t wait for both my son’s production and the movie! I’ve been obsessed with The Tempest lately. It’s so dramatic.

David Cranmer said...

Geez, I miss Maine. I need to get back pronto.

Wonderful photos.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sarah, I am so intrigued to read about the process of development of your work. So many disparate ideas just, as you say, like the scattered leaves, which somehow become integrated and woven into a meaningful narrative.

I am most interested to learn of your new novel. I am a regular attender at Stratford and have watched so many memorable productions of Shakespeare's plays there. I should find it thrilling that your children are 'taken' with Shakespeare, there is such a richness and diversity there which can only be good for the soul!

Sarah Laurence said...

David, one day you may return to hike Bradbury Mountain (really a big hill) with your daughter. It’s great for little kids.

Edith, writing a Shakespeare inspired novel involves scattered ideas because I draw from the play and contemporary times, weaving together his themes and my original plot strands and characters. Also many of Shakespeare’s plays are structured that way, with all the little sub plots and minor characters. I’m a big fan of the RSC myself and have seen several productions over the years I’ve lived in England. I am thrilled that this passion flows from my husband and me to the next generation. I’m also pleased to share this love of the Bard with you and many other blog readers. One day I hope to share my stories as published books. Fingers crossed!

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

Wow beautiful pictures! How amazing to walk outside and see those gorgeous trees. You're super lucky :)

I live in LA and we don't get foliage...probably because we don't really have trees.

I would love to see a real autumn!

Sarah Laurence said...

Leeann, welcome to my blog! It is gorgeous at this time of year but our winters are long. I haven’t been to LA in ages. It’s fun to catch up on the gossip.

Beth Kephart said...

I so love autumn, and I took a photo a bit like yours of the leaves the other day. Thank you for spending some time with Illyria, and for letting me know....

cynthia newberry martin said...

Stunning photos--especially those in your yard! I can't wait for fall to arrive in Georgia. And I love all the Shakespeare connections.

Sarah Laurence said...

Beth, thanks for the recommending it!

Cynthia, I’m looking forward to your foliage photos when our leaves are down.

Barrie said...

I didn't know about the upcoming Helen Miren movie! I loved seeing these photos of the leaves.

Donna said...

You are a busy mom and writer! It's interesting to hear about how you get your ideas for stories from real life. I hope you and your family are doing well; I've been thinking about you!

Amanda Summer said...

stunning fotos!

good luck with your talented kids and their plays --- and the lunch with your friend sounds great - any place called trattoria athena must be good!

Cynthia Pittmann said...

Wonderful when both of your roles-mother and writer-mesh so beautifully. Love the movie trailer...a must see now! Thanks for sharing. My feeling for Helen Mirren is close to worship...I'm talking about the on screen person...I don't know much about her personal life.
It's good to reconnect with friends, too. I noticed that the leaves turn brown rather quickly, btw, so does that mean that your creative ideas could blow away? No. I think what happens is that the loosen leaves soar...and then are recycled into another idea when the right season comes along.

Keri Mikulski said...

Wow!! Gorgeous leaves. :) Thanks so much for sharing the beautiful fall pics. :) Your teens sure do keep you busy - Yay soccer! ;)

Sarah Laurence said...

Barrie, isn’t Helen Mirren marvelous?

Donna, we are doing better, thank you. Our busy life keeps us moving forward.

Amanda, I knew you’d like the sound of that new restaurant.

Cynthia, welcome back! I saw Patrick Stewart as Prospero live in London, but I bet Helen Mirren (thanks for correcting my spelling – I’ll fix the post) will be equally fabulous. You keep on top of my metaphors too – very good! Leaves go brown, paper yellows and computers go obsolete but hopefully my ideas will have a long life in a published book some day.

Keri, my daughter had her last game today and made two good attempts at goal. I love that she does both soccer and Shakespeare. I find that I write much better if I swim laps or go for a brisk walk before writing.

troutbirder said...

A tempest in such a beautiful setting! And a whirlwind of ideas. These adolescent growing into adulthood are the best of all. Finally I rate Helen right up there with Meryl as one of the very best. Looking forward to them movie.

☆sapphire said...

Your autumn leaves are stunning! So beautiful! Ours have not turned color yet. The Tempest video looks awesome! I really look forward to seeing it at a theater!! I think being a "Shakespeare Mom" must be very rewarding! What a delight to see your children play Shakespeare's characters!

Kelly H-Y said...

Double credit for parenting and work ... brilliant! I love it! Your pictures are so gorgeous ... but, that first one ... with all the various colors ... red, green, orange, yellow ... and even pink! Stunning! Glad you had some time to enjoy your friends too!

Sarah Laurence said...

Troutbirder, I love Meryl Streep too. This week is a whirlwind: stormy weather, last soccer game, four performances of The Tempest, a painting to deliver for an auction and parent-teacher conferences. I’m squeezing in 3 writing days too.

Sapphire, I’ll be happy to see your leaves when ours are gone. I love watching my kids perform Shakespeare. It seems only yesterday that my husband was reading Richard III as a bedtime story. I kid you not.

Kelly, I was amazed to find such a multi-colored display lying outside my back door. The pink leaves are from the burning bush. Other years they have been bright red.

Jenn Jilks said...

I am a soccer mom still, and she's 31 years old! Still playing, with 2 babies of her own!

My son is an actor, too.

I adore your shots. Fall is beautiful.
Thank you for visiting cottage country !

Sarah Laurence said...

Jenn, it sounds like we have more than loving books in common.