Sandra resizedI met Sandra Seaton while waiting for service at a Verizon Wireless store years ago.  We quickly stuck up a conversation and I was so enthralled with her I asked her to lunch.  Sandra  is fascinating, extremely intelligent, and has accomplished some amazing things in her life.  Sandra is the type of person I can sit with for hours and have endless conversation.  I’m so blessed to know this incredible woman!

WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

As a playwright and librettist,  I have always been inspired by people in my family; my grandmother, who was never on the stage but performed at community fundraisers and garden clubs, and my great uncle Flournoy E. Miller, who wrote the book and was one of the visionaries who conceived Broadway’s original Shuffle Along in 1921. I am also inspired by writers that I greatly admire, such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Emily Dickinson and many others.

I’m constantly being inspired by people who know things and want to share their knowledge such as repair people; the plumbers and electricians who have come to my home. A guy who repairs the refrigerator or washer and is passionate about it, an arborist who knows all about trees and shrubs. The brilliant Crop and Soil people at MSU.  Not that I’d ever be able to do what they do, but I’m fascinated by people who want to share the tricks of their trade. People who work with their hands and those who know and understand the land inspire me.

 DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO YOU LIVE BY?

A motto? I’m not sure about that. I guess I’m always learning something knew. Life is such an adventure. You should be ready to be surprised. You’ll see things you never expected to see in the most unusual places.

DO YOU HAVE A LESSON OR THOUGHT TO SHARE?

I call this “The Who Me?” A good friend of mine, a painter named Al Loving, had a theory about his work process. He called it the “Who Me?” Al said he could do 10 different drawings of the same tree. The first nine wouldn’t be worth keeping, but the tenth one would surprise him.  It would please him and show him something he never expected to see. This piece of art seemed to come out of nowhere; how could it come from him?  According to Al, it was all the steps along the way, the trial and error. Working through the process made the unexpected result possible. It only happens if you stay with it and work on it. I have found Al’s advice so helpful with my own writing.

HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

I was born in a small town and lived there as a child. Everyone knew everyone else. You said hello and smiled at whomever you met. If I can make someone else happy or bring a smile to the face of someone I don’t know, then it makes me happy and gives me a feeling of well–being.  It’s probably the same way some people might feel after a glass of wine, a spa treatment, or a good film. I enjoy all those things too, but something happens inside me when I reach out to someone and compliment them or give them a gift. Making other people happy makes me happy.  It’s a great stress reliever.

I also handle stress by working with my hands, primarily cooking. I find all the preparation, handling the food, putting things in the pan at just the right heat quite relaxing. I can be inventive without risking much of anything.  It’s that “know when to hold em, know when to fold ’em” aspect of cooking that’s so gratifying.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

I’ve written twelve plays that have been performed, and right now I’m working on several new writing projects. It’s great to be a part of a vibrant arts community. This summer when one of my new works was performed at the Renegade Theatre Festival in Lansing’s Old Town, it brought me so much pleasure to see friends and colleagues from our community in the audience. This year I was honored to have a Chris Clark Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing to attend a national theater conference in Chicago. It’s wonderful to know how much support there is in our community.

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