The Speed of Clouds by Miriam Seidel – a Review by Brittany Loeffler

The Speed of Clouds by Miriam Seidel

Miriam Seidel’s The Speed of Clouds is a coming-of-age story that readers of any genre will enjoy. Taking place in 1999, Mindy Vogel loses her leadership role for the sci-fi zine she created and is forced to gain another perspective on life while inserting herself into a new SkyLog fan group that eventually becomes her family. Wheelchair-bound, Mindy overcomes medical obstacles all while living in a scientific fantasy world of her own.

Seidel takes a unique approach to the sci-fi genre by incorporating a world of cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and foreign species into a believable story that takes place just before the Millennium. She builds a world away from planet earth with history, wars, and relations through Mindy’s obsessions and fan fiction. Readers have the joy of reading two versions of Seidel’s novel, one based in the real world and one that takes place in another time and universe. However, readers must pay close attention to each of the three storylines offered throughout the novel to fully grasp the world of SkyLog.

Mindy is truly a character that everyone can relate to in some fashion. Stubborn at first, the main character slowly realizes that she must live her life joyously rather than indulge in her pessimism. It is greatly appreciated the steps Seidel takes to make Mindy’s handicap incredibly realistic as she overcomes everyday struggles due to her disability.

It’s refreshing to hear a story told from a group of people who sometimes fall under the radar. Mindy and her friends can be found at Comic Cons, arguing about fictional characters, and obsessing over a fantasy world.

A truly heart-warming read, I would recommend this book to both lovers to science fiction and realistic fiction. I would never have thought to pick up this book on my own, I’m glad it found its way into my library to enjoy again and again.

Publisher: New Door Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Paperback: 278 Pages
ISBN-10: 0999550101
ISBN-13: 978-0999550106
Author: Miriam Seidel
Reviewer: Brittany Loeffler

Advertisements

Defining Creativity

“What is an artist? A provincial who finds himself somewhere between a physical reality and a metaphysical one…. It’s this in-between that I’m calling a province, this frontier country between the tangible world and the intangible one—which is really the realm of the artist.” — Federico Fellini

Questions about creativity, art, the creative process, the artistic life — however you phrase it, the curiosity is based on one thing: the fact that those who do not experience their own creativity are incapable of understanding those who dwell within theirs.

Fellini is right that the artist lives in a liminal world, between dream and manifestation. But so do we all.  The biggest difference is that the artist recognizes that world of liminality; others aren’t aware of the fact that a part of them lives in that place of dreams all the time.

The best way for anyone to understand creativity is for them to be introduced to their own creative energies.

We live in a world that has systematically devalued and destroyed opportunities to experience our creativity.  Standardized testing, rote teaching, drilling and killing — that is too often how our children are “taught”, and with that kind of numbing out, adults rarely have ever felt their own creative energy.  And to live a life without ever having felt your own creative energy surging through your mind and body — well, that’s not living at all.

Pedagogical theorists are, finally, realizing how under-developed our students are when they are denied time to explore creativity.  But after reading mountains of educational theory on “teaching creativity”, I’ve come to the conclusion that none of them know what they are talking about.  Unless you are an artist, you cannot introduce someone to art.  I saw this in the years when I was a residency artist in the state arts council programs.  I remember one day, walking down the hall of a public school in New Jersey, overhearing a kindergarten teacher giving instruction to the children:

“We’ll be drawing pictures of apples today.  And what colors are apples?  They are red, green, yellow.  There are NO purple apples.  No blue apples.  So, let’s be sure that we use the right colors, everybody!”

I wanted to scream.  I wanted to rush into the room and push her out of the way, and tell the children, “YES there are purple apples!  There are blue apples!  There are polka dot and striped apples!  And where are they?  In your imagination!  So draw whatever kind of apples you can imagine!”

It is impossible for a non-artist to teach creativity.  There, I’ve said it.

So what we need is an avalanche of artists, a flood of artists, entering all levels of the population — interacting with the youngest children and the oldest seniors — inviting them to see their own purple apples, to imagine their flavor, to smell their perfume.

Our society needs its artists now more than ever.  They are the shamans who will lead the way into that liminal province, that is the place where all is possible, pre-manifest and yet real.

So how does one begin to experience their own creativity?  Here’s how:

Go find the artists.   Turn off the TV, the computer and the smart phone.  Surround yourself with live art, if only a little bit, each and every day.  Go to an art museum, listen to all kinds of music (not just the kind you are most used to!), learn about the theatres in your area, and buy tickets — or better yet, go to their preview nights, when audience is often invited to view for free.  Watch live dance performance. Go to poetry and literary readings. Attend open mics in your neighborhood.  Read books – all kinds, but especially literary works and poetry.

Carry a notebook in which you can sketch and write.  Consider taking music or singing lessons.  Try acting.  Draw.  Take a pottery class.  Dance — even if it is only in your living room when nobody is watching.   Invest in some inexpensive art supplies – a sketchbook, some pencils, maybe some water color.  Buy a cheap camera and start taking pictures.  Buy a box or two of those magnetic word poetry kits and play with word combinations on your refrigerator each morning, as you wait for your tea or coffee to be finished.

Buy yourself a copy of THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron and read it.  Do the exercises.  Follow her guidance.

Hang out with artists.  Get to know some of the people in your community who are involved in the arts, and spend time with them.  Get involved with what they do.  Your life will begin to change.  It will widen, and suddenly feel more infused with energy.

YOU will feel more alive.  You’ll realize that artists are all around you, and that the world is filled with creative wonder.  You’ll begin to feel the flow of that creative energy moving  around and through you.  You’ll never need to ask again, “What is creativity?”  You will know for yourself, and it will feel wonderful.