why I write the way I do

I was born under a full moon as the last year of the sixties began. As a small child, I lived the usual small child life of sun and song - although having a mysterious dark forest behind my house, and finding an eerie black-eyed doll, twin to my own doll, under the stairs of my neighbour's house, taught me very early on to love the tingle of being ever so slightly haunted.

I shed my soul's baby skin when I was about five or six and found that the forest and the understairs had seeped right through. We'd moved by then into the deep, weeping heart of the trees, and as I lay awake at night waiting for dragons, I could hear the silence of them and other magical things slipping through the manuka darkness outside my crooked bedroom window. I could feel the spirit of the manuka itself, dancing, dreaming. Although I knew off-by-heart the stories of Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, the land itself taught me older, wordless fairy tales. The heavy hills. The white sea, crashing onto an old broken shore that had been born from its deeper waters. The wind, wild and weighed with history. The moon, watching me.

But although this little bit of west had me, and tried to prentice me to its songs and stories, I always knew I did not belong. I would lift my heart from the valleys and hills, and I'd search for the furthest horizon. I felt absolutely, in my mind and my bones, that I was an exile from another world. No one else understood that - except the storytellers did. They wrote about my lost world. They spoke my half-forgotten native language. So I read them compulsively, homesick and lonely. And when I got older, I wanted to write too, so I could open a window on my lost, faraway home, and ease my sorrow.

So much for why I write. The how is because of those wooded hills beside the sea which godmothered me, and taught me their strange dark poetry.


Linking with Terri Windling's moveable feast.