Author, Blogger, Inspirer of Hearts, Minds & Souls we give you Sue Fitzmaurice.
1. Which do you enjoy more blogging or being an author? They’re so different – I can labour over a blog for just a short while and be happy with it, but it takes so much longer – blogging’s more of an instant satisfaction fix, I guess – long term, producing a novel is incredibly satisfying. A lot of the time when you’re writing a book, it’s very, very hard work – other times it flows and you can go for hours – the latter is the best experience of writing.
2. How do you get ideas for characters? Characters pop into my head very easily; some I find literally writing them onto the page without even consulting me first! I do use pictures and traits from people I know – rarely would I use an entire personality that I know, but I “borrow” from characteristics of people familiar to me, although often very distantly familiar. It may be from someone I haven’t seen for years.
3. How do you inspire hearts, souls and minds? It used to be in business; that’s ancient history now but over my years in business I learnt to stand up and speak in front of others – a task which is such a greatest confidence-builder – I used to tell staff that in my opinion it’s the greatest single element to developing leadership (if I had to pick just one). So I figured how to inspire people towards a vision, a purpose… and I was quite good at it. I’m a clear and coherent thinker, and a deep thinker, and I’ve learnt that to help make people’s lives meaningful for them is a great service, and to convey important messages well is one way to do that. These days I have two avenues; one is novel-writing and the other is my Facebook page. I’ll talk about my Facebook page in your next question… In terms of my novel(s) (one published, others on the go…), again I really want to be able to convey meaning, using the vehicle of a good story. Myself, I love a good complex read, and if I get to consider important ideas and issues in a story too, then I’m very satisfied. “Angels in the Architecture” takes on religious disharmony, class structures, the Church and politics, quantum physics, and considers questions of ‘what can we know?’ and ‘is there a God’? It doesn’t necessarily answer any of those questions, but they’re all posed through the story.
4. Trying God’s patience since 1962, what does that mean? I was born in 1962, and ‘Trying God’s Patience’ was the name of my first Facebook page. It’s a saying, to ‘try God’s patience’; meaning one’s behaviour must be particularly exasperating if even God’s patience is tried. The idea of picking that name was that I think the world in all its current crises must surely try God’s patience, and then I used it as the by-line on my website to convey that I figured I probably had too. (NB: I no longer have that Facebook page.)
5. Would you say you are a spiritual person? Yes, absolutely; I’ve spent most of my life looking for answers and meaning, and I think I’ve found a lot of both. I was brought up within the Anglican Church in New Zealand, and then became a Baha’i at age 22. I don’t have any religious affiliation now, but feel very comfortable in almost any religious or spiritual setting, and find so much sustenance everywhere. My religion now is to love everyone, judge no one, and give what I can; I haven’t got it down pat yet though.
6. You talk about negativity and positivity do you think that someone can use negativity for change or do you think that negativity has a net negative outcome eventually? That is one of life’s great contradictions – how long have we got? By ‘using negativity for change’, I’m assuming you mean along the lines of protest? By which, I would say yes, Yes, YES! We should seek to change what’s unjust, absolutely. But we can actually do that in a positive way. It’s all about what’s in our heart – it’s the classic “love your enemy”. We absolutely must strive to keep as positive a view of things as we can; that’s not always easy, and it takes a lot of practice. I wish we were taught more about this as children…
7. A lot of people play the blame game to describe why they are the way they are, how can they get past this? Blame is about as useful as guilt to creating happiness for yourself, which is to say not useful at all. It has zero value, and in fact it has a negative value, since it’s an obstacle to progress. We all discover parts of ourselves as adults where we can say ‘oh that was my mother did that to me’, or ‘that was my father’s fault’, or even ‘when I was raped / abused / fired / …’ – the list can go on and on. It is one very small and limited step towards growth to discover what happened to us and why; if we don’t take the very many next steps after that discovery then that initial step just becomes a step towards oblivion and not in the least towards growth and happiness. We must all move on past the stories we’ve told ourselves about why we (and our lives) are the way they are – and by ‘stories’ I don’t mean they’re fiction or lies, but they can be replaced by other stories, ones that speak to our own beauty and light as human beings. None of this happens overnight, and for those of us who have a lot of stories (a lot of past), it can feel like an endless struggle; but that is our reason for being here: to deal with the struggle and grow past it into a life of light and happiness.
8. What are your thoughts about the Golden Rule? I feel very strongly about it – in fact I started a Facebook page with that name a couple of years ago with a bunch of friends – it’s at www.facebook.com/LivetheGoldenRule – I am eternally frustrated by the hypocrisy of some religious practitioners that deny the plight of the poor, or of the mega-wealthy who spend their lives seeking moral virtue in selfishness.
9. Would you describe yourself as political? I try to avoid party politics, but in the sense of wanting to see social outcomes improved for more people I’m very political. Bit of a born rebel in some ways.
10. Angels in Architecture give us an excerpt.
I really like these paragraphs about one of the autistic boys:
Timothy Watson was not the child his parents imagined, nor indeed anyone. He was really very different.
He was also lucky. He did not have to feel pain in his life, and the love that was his particular birthright helped him connect to the world of Light, and to a world of detailed imagery that other people did not see. This was not so uncommon for children that were born as Tim was, although Tim had particular assets and friends that even others like him did not. Being able to see the light and the space between things and the patterns in the spaces – these, many could see. Tim’s light spoke to him, and further, the rock in his life, which was his father, unwittingly strengthened his confidence in who Tim was and what he may be capable of.
Not only did Tim receive light but sometimes when he became white enough with the light himself, he was able to reflect it back at his surroundings, like a pure white wall that reflected light but did not absorb it. Tim as yet had no comprehension of this ability, but in this way he could change things in his surroundings – little things that no one noticed, like making people happy. Tim could do that in the same way the light made him happy. People around him would think themselves delighted because he was a joyful soul and something beautiful and innocent to watch and even to feel blessed by. They would go away feeling they had made a special connection with a poor wee boy who had not much life to expect for himself, and they would condescend to imagine they had provided some mature, charitable, and useful support to his poor parents. They satisfied themselves they were not so cruel as others or ignorant, but knowing all the while – not so deep within themselves – that they could not have coped with a child such as this. Indeed, that they would have been embarrassed if people knew they had a child like Tim. And all the while they believed it was they who brought some light into the child’s day, not the opposite.
They also thought that inside little Timmy’s head there was nothing much at all.
11. Should we give peace a chance? Yes! We’re not very good at it – we think (or at least we practice) that the path to peace is war, and it never, ever, ever is. People talk about defending their nation at the same time they deny the human rights and liberty of whole other sections of the world community. And that’s just bollocks, that is. War still has a huge place in the culture of many nations, and that’s going to take several more generations to dissipate, sadly.
12. I see that you offer classes on your website, how does that work? I have a 10-day “find your purpose” course and a “how to grow your facebook page” course for business/fan page owners. [Ignore the 30-day lifestyle & meditation boot camp, Michael – I need to revamp that.] They’re really simple to sign up for online and there’s a barrel-load of info and resources immediately available.
14. Where does your cheerfulness and positive attitude come from? I’ve come to believe our best route to success and happiness is laughter, reflection and a determined positivity. I’ve just learned to go there, to those places within me, as much as I possibly can, and it’s become a habit. You have got to have fun and to laugh. You absolutely have got to.
15. Anything else? I like to tell people that I’m from New Zealand, ‘cos the default position when you’re on Facebook especially, is that everyone thinks you’re American. And I think it’s pretty cool being a Kiwi.