1. Readers relate with a main character when they identify with how he or she overcame obstacles. As a writer, are there specific difficult times in your life that you recall to help develop believable scenarios?
Absolutely there were difficult times:
Feeling like I had no options.
Feeling like I needed the help of people who weren’t representing my best interest but were feeding into their own fears.
Feeling like I was backed into a corner and expected to choose an option that wasn’t me.
Feeling like I was living a life that wasn’t mine.
Feeling like I was born into the wrong person for my journey.
Stories are about conflict. Unfortunately (or fortunately actually) I draw on the conflicts of my life for stories.
2. Many people view a ‘mid-life crisis’ unfavorably. I know you well enough that you probably have a creative, positive name for ‘the crisis’. Would you consider your writing career something that you began mid-life?
I’m flattered that you’d think I came up with a way to identify with the “crises.” I’m actually flattered that you’ve asked me to answer these questions.
I’ve put myself into one or usually a combination of the difficult times I listed in #1 at multiple times. I believe what is most helpful about growing older and accumulating the pain of consequences of decisions is identifying the cycle that’s transpired from the choices I’ve made. Without realizing what I was doing, I constantly reevaluated my position but made choices that kept me on a path of insanity (doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result). Do that enough times and you’ll certainly run smack dab into the wall in middle age that’s referred to as the “mid-life crisis.”
I believe many people view a mid-life (and any other crises for that matter) unfavorably. That’s because it drives us outside of the comfort zone. Humans are lazy by nature. We all choose easy over what appears to be difficult at any given moment. Why not? You’d be a fool to cause yourself pain if you didn’t have to—until you’ve been serving the ideals that aren’t yours for far too long.
A mid-life crisis is simply your psyche’s way of saying you can’t be someone you’re not any longer. You’re not on a journey for your highest good. It’s a crisis of soul. The reason I believe it happens sometime in mid-life is because life keeps people busy. Then a day comes when mortality raises its ugly head and holds up the scalp of that nagging old dream, you know, the one you were encouraged to have as a kid until the reality that people packaged and sold was too good a bargain to pass up.
Everyone who is not being true to themselves will have a crisis of soul. It’s not a bad thing. Actually I highly recommend it. If people love who you are, so many more people will love who you actually are. Shed the shame, shed the guilt, shed the façade and breathe in life. It truly is very short, happiness is the only quest and honestly no one has ever been on their death bed saying, “Wow, I wish I could have been far more stressed out.”
Life isn’t about the things you’ve done, it’s about the things you’ve loved. If you don’t know where to start, start with loving this very moment. Each moment is all we have anyway.
When I came out on the other side of my crisis of soul I started writing. And although it’s easy to have regrets, I subscribe deeply to the concept that it all happened perfectly. Every decision I made led me down the path that dumped me into the life of a writer. I have nothing to begrudge for that.
I had always tried to write but never had anything to put on paper. You have to have lived to write. You have to have something to write about. You have to have a story to tell and stories are about conflict. I feel like I can say I now have stories to tell.
3. List your novels in chronological order. What do you think of the saying; an author doesn’t find her real voice until the third novel?
Second Chance Catch
Second Chance Catch Two
Can’t Find a Better Man
Mom of the Year
I think whoever said that was onto something. After writing my first novel, my editor told me she felt as if the book was more about the girl than the boy. Because the boy was the first character to come to me, I felt obligated to tell his story so I used the girl’s perspective as my B story. That’s when I discovered that I liked telling the female story. I think that’s why I dove into a middle-aged woman’s quest for happiness in Can’t Find a Better Man.
4. Many people are hesitant to create a better life for themselves. What piece of advice can you give to someone who feels the inner stirrings to try something new, but is afraid of failure?
If you fail, what have you lost? If you succeed, what have you gained? Trust me, in either case, people will laugh at you.
When I have an idea to do anything, it normally requires building a relationship(s) in order to go forward. At some point, even if you’re a hermit who creates in a lonely writer’s garret, you’ll have to connect with a warm body. And that might as well be someone who’s like-minded. When I approach anyone about involvement in a project, I consider two things:
(1) They’ll either say yes or they’ll say no (“maybe” is a yes).
(2) If they say no, a door has closed—at least at the current moment. If they say yes, one has opened. If a door closes, I’ll have just as good an indication of which direction to go as if one opens. It’s that simple.
The best piece of advice I can give someone is, the hardest thing to do, in your entire life, is to convince your mind that anything is possible—to convince your mind that the difference between the future unfolding favorably vs. unfavorably is simply your ability to embrace the future as possibility instead of uncertainty. Once you do that, your feeling about the future is what will make the steps toward that possibility a walk in the park. Your feeling about the future in this moment is what attracts your favorable life to you. The mind is not the most terrible thing to waste. The time you waste thinking thoughts of uncertainty is a terrible thing.
5. What do you think is the key for creating support systems?
Having no attachment to the outcome. Every time you ask you’ll get a yes or a no. Like Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Don’t take it personally.”
Also, there is a big difference between having a passion for something and having attachment to the outcome. For example, I feel quite strongly about wanting my current project produced into a medium that will facilitate the story living on. I’m passionate about it. However, I have no attachment to that outcome being a successful movie. I have a feeling about my journey which steers me intuitively toward what I feel is right. This is important because when an opportunity arises, I don’t want to shoot the messenger. I want to look at that opportunity through a lens of possibility.
That ties into another concept: when it comes to my goals, I believe if I define it, I limit it.
Do I concentrate on my movie being a success? No. I hold in my gut this feeling that this project is going to be a vehicle for connecting to like-minded people. If I define my vision as this movie being a success, it’s possible that I’ll disregard the opportunity for this project to perform at its highest good. In other words, what if this movie being a success is not serving the highest good?
What if I can’t even imagine what would be the most awesome thing that could happen from bringing together a great group to produce this project?
What if the best thing that could happen would be a clothing line that springs up as a result of the movie?
What if the most people will be offered an opportunity by a television series that’s produced from this movie?
What if all doors will be opened by making the sequel?
I can’t even list all the awesome things that could come as a result of the connections I’ve made to this point because I can’t imagine them. It’s like the internet. Twenty years ago I couldn’t imagine being able to communicate with people via the keyboard of a computer. We didn’t even have computers. At this moment I feel the same is true for this project.
6. Do you have a favorite book that you’d recommend for the FAVORITE HEROINE section of my website?
I’ll be honest, and some people will probably call it something other than that, but my favorite heroine came to me in my first novel, Second Chance Catch. She is a girl who suffered enormous abuse and learns how, at a young age, to play that beautiful space between knowing that the consequences of her past will continue to affect her life but refuses to let them define her. In an even greater act of courage, she breaks up with the boy who saved her from that life, regardless of how much she loves him, because she knows she’s only holding him back from his dream. She’s the strongest-willed character I’ve ever met. I feel so fortunate that she chose me to tell her story.
I believe any writer can relate to their characters in this way.
7. Why was it important to you?
Telling her story was difficult because it was at times so distasteful. She didn’t sugar coat anything so neither did I. My job was to be non-judgmental. My job was to do it justice. I’m grateful for that opportunity.
In Cindy's Own Words:
Questions and Answers with Cindy Falteich on 'Get Back Up and Look Up'