As Sparks Fly Upward

Debbie Reynolds (I added this on 12/29…after losing her daughter Carrie Fisher, Debbie told her son Todd she missed her and then she died herself).

Ricky Harris (comedian) – 54

Carrie Fisher – 60

George Michael – 53

Zsa Zsa Gabor – 99

(her stepson died due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident he was in the day she died).

Alan Thicke – 69

John Glenn – 73

Peter Vaughan – 93

Fidel Castro – 90

Florence Henderson – 82

Leonard Cohen – 82

Arnold Palmer – 87

Alexis Arquette – 47

Gene Wilder – 83

Garry Marshall – 81

Elie Wiesel – 87

Gordie Howe – 88

Kimbo Slice (Kevin Ferguson, professional fighter)– 42

Muhammed Ali – 74

Morely Safer – 84

Prince – 57

Chyna (Joan Laurer – professional wrestler for WWF) – 45

Garry Shandling – 66

Malik Taylor (Phife Dawg – rapper) -45

Rob Ford – 46

Nancy Regan – 94

Harper Lee – 89

Anthony Scalia – 80

Rene Angelil (husband of Celine Dion) – 73

Alan Rickman – 69

David Bowie – 69

The list seems endless (thankfully, there is only a few more days left of 2016, but we also lost Debbie Reynolds after I first posted this list). The celebrity deaths in the list above is lengthy, and most of us were probably saddened about the demise of at least some of these people, even if we didn’t know them personally. I wondered, as I was typing out this list, if they all fulfilled the goals and dreams they cared about most…probably not.

Yet man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

Job 5:7

When I was 42 years old, I was just beginning my long trek into adulthood. I may have been mature physically, but I was a Peter Pan until then, not even aware of my tendencies toward emotional immaturity. Getting married at sixteen and having a baby at seventeen doesn’t qualify, apparently.

Assembling the list above made me think over my own life. I wondered if I’d accomplished what is most important to me. I know I want to leave my footprint somewhere on this gentle green earth. That is not easy for someone raised in a the concrete jungle of a Los Angeles suburb, where the most important things were surfing, The Beach Boys, and Coppertone tanning lotion.

Near the end of 2014, I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself. Against all odds I had gone to college and become a psychotherapist, a lifelong dream. I had overcome a lot of physical obstacles and was sure I had fulfilled my quota for tragedy accrued during one lifetime. I believed the reason I had made it thus far was that I was fulfilling God’s call on my life. Then the unthinkable happened.

I had just finished writing the manuscript for my memoir. I had heard, “You should write a book,” almost any time I mentioned some absurd thing about my life. I didn’t know that this was a typical reason people write memoirs, because others told them they should.  In some of the books on writing memoir I  have read, it’s actually included as one of the reasons you shouldn’t write one (if that’s your only reason for doing it).  Most memoir books mention that you might want to have a record of your life for your own family, but believe me, my family would not want to know half of this stuff. It’s not something you would read to your grandchildren during bedtime either.

No, I had one reason I found important enough to bleed my personal history out into the ethernet or onto the printed page; I wanted to give hope to people who found themselves in similar predicaments (found themselves in, or walked smack dab into on their own). And, the older I get, the more important it becomes to me to tell others about God’s amazing work in a life that was in ruins.

But back to writing the manuscript for the memoir. As any writer, I wanted mine to be “good.” I hired an expert to walk me through the process of developing the story and the themes. Each month for a year I submitted my work to her via the information super highway and we met by phone and polished it up together.

By the end of October, 2014, I felt satisfied the this book may really help some folks who felt stuck. I wanted them to know that even when life hands you a curveball you can recover; that no matter what happens in life, when you know God, all things are possible to you. I wanted them to know that anyone can “become what they might have been (George Eliot).” I had done it. So can you. That was my thinking.

I knew I had a lot of editing ahead of me, of course. Frank McCourt, Cheryl Strayed, Pat Conroy, these were people I admired for their respective abilities to turn words into beauty.  I wanted to tell people I had reached for the stars and amazingly, God had helped me to fulfill my dreams. I had gone from a fourteen year old juvenile delinquent and high school drop out (with a little help from the underside of the principal’s boot), to a licensed psychotherapist with a thriving private practice. “We can do anything,” was my motto. “The world is in our hands.”

Then, once the manuscript was done and I was ready to start the editing process, something happened that changed everything. Suddenly, everything that I had thought I had neatly tied up in a bow was ripped off the boxes and strewn around the floor like so much gift wrap on Christmas morning.

Starting next week, I am going to be posting my manuscript on this blog so anyone can find it and read it…for free. I do not have the physical energy to help anyone, including myself, sell a book. 2016 has been a hard year for me, both physically and emotionally. It humbled me. It changed my thinking. I no longer believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. I have limitations. It has given me more compassion, both for myself and for others. I think of “God’s will,” and “God’s calling,” differently too. Some of the healing I have experienced this past year goes beyond the physical, and it changed my story, and therefore, my manuscript.

With so many famous people dying at relatively young ages, we are reminded that we do not know how many days we have to walk this earth. Over half of those listed died in their 40’s through 70’s. Carrie Fisher had just published her own memoir last  month, The Princess Diarist. It makes you stop, and reflect. I hope my writing blesses you in some way, even if I cannot channel Frank McCourt or Pat Conroy. Most posts will be 500-700 words. This one is over 1000. Please let me know in the comments if you prefer to read more or less each week. And be a conversation starter. I would love to answer any questions you may have too. God bless.

20 comments on “As Sparks Fly Upward

  1. Thanks for making your memoir available to readers of your blog. Your intention to help other people with its publication is a legitimate motivation for me to read it. 500-1000 words is about what I can commit to reading on a daily basis. How often to plan on posting?

    • Linda Lochridge on said:

      Hi Philip. Thank you! I am really wanting to commit to writing and posting at least once a week. I hope I don’t overwhelm. Thanks again. That is so helpful! Linda

  2. OMG, Linda. You may have changed the course of my life here. But how does one rip apart a manuscript into 500-700 word posts? How do you get people to keep up with your blog for the months (years?) it will take to post it on your site? I am so looking forward to seeing how you manage this because you are my hero, maybe even my savior. I’ve been writing and revising my manuscript for five years now thinking that was the hard part. But you’ve said it – having the energy and time and commitment to selling the manuscript, to getting an agent and publisher interested, editing, …. Uh – not knowing how much longer we have here on Earth, who wants to spend the possibly-rest-of-your-life selling your story? The manuscripts, yours and mine, have already fulfilled their purposes: they helped us heal. And I’m so conflicted daily about how to spend my time: helping others or looking for what makes me laugh or hiking with my inherited dog or getting back to my manuscript. I’m thinking that maybe you have the right idea here. And I can hardly wait to see the beginning next week. (In my blogs I aim for 400 words because I don’t know if people will endure much more. But that seems like way too few words if you’re telling your story.) Wishing you the best of luck with this. I am so in awe of you making this decision. Hugs!

    • Linda Lochridge on said:

      Thank you Robin! You are such an encouragement to me and a hero too. We’ll see how I do it. I’ll be figuring it out as I go along. But I did it before. This won’t be in chronological order though. In my manuscript I go back and forth between the past and the present, so we’ll see. It’s going to be hard, for sure. If I don’t make it to the end, that’s in God’s hands, right? We can only do what we can do, and leave God to the rest of it. I like it that you doing all those things. Our lives need balance. Keep it up! ((Hug)).

  3. Wow! Linda, I had no idea there was a writer living next door to me! You and Tom are both such amazing people. I’m so grateful that I moved here!

  4. Thanks for asking Linda. I’d say 1000 words or so is my max. Blessings on you in the sharing.

  5. Jean Johnson on said:

    Hi Linda,
    I have always loved your honest and open writing. I read your post just now, and look forward to reading these posts in the months to come. For all of the hardships, health issues, and emotional things, many of us go through, we are like the lighthouse shining a bright light of hope to those who experience what we do, but struggle hard to find direction. Keep up the great work Linda! We are the lighthouses, but it is God who shines brightly through us leading the way. I would say 800 to 1,000 word posts are sufficient for reading and comprehending. Love and Hugs to you! Jean J.

    • Linda Lochridge on said:

      Hi Jean! Thank you so much for commenting. I agree with you…I want to be that lighthouse.

  6. I would love to read your memoir blog posts, as you are an inspiration to me.

  7. Andrea Mollica on said:

    No words adequate, my friend… you know my heart.. Love you..

  8. Hi, Linda
    Thank you so much for your willingness to share your story/ies. I’m looking forward to reading them! 500 to 1,000 words seems good to me.
    I have a suggestion: you said they wouldn’t be posted in chronological order. I can think of some reasons why that might be a good thing, but at the same time I love reading things in the order they happen. Is there any chance you could add a tag or category that silently gives us a clue as to which time of your life they happened in? That way you could publish them in any order, and those of us who like reading stories in chronological order could choose to read them in that order.
    Just a suggestion. 🙂

  9. Linda, I have signed up, write as many words as God wants you to write. I would even read 1500. LOL. I love you my friend. Blessings Diana

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