BOOKS ....... FREE STORIES ....... TALES OF TAM YS ....... ARCHIVE ....... EDITING ....... SARAH

the mid-life crisis

The further I travel from my previous vision of who I am, the more wrong for me it seems to become. I look back at my blogposts and think that it's beautiful writing (sometimes it takes my breath away, I hope its okay to say that), but I don't want to dwell within that perspective again. I look at the instagrams of those who do, and I feel a great pushback inside of me, a determination not to empathise, or try to emulate, as I used to. Even the thought of doing that feels like loneliness on a very profound level - loneliness with oneself.

I've spent years ... decades ... being something else because I can't afford, fit into, quite manage, being what I really feel like. We all know the trope: the woman whose soul has wings, but she can't afford to travel, so she stays grounded in a small town; the witty girl who is shy so we never hear her black humour; the gay man who marries a woman because he's scared; the woman who turns down an opportunity because she doesn't believe herself worthy. Turning fifty was the most astonishing threshold for me. I didn't expect what it brought. I was planning to work hard on my self-publishing, write more fairytales (which I love), go even more indepth with a lyrical investigation of modern magic and the dreaming stories of the soul ...

And then, pretty much overnight, the world and my heart said stop. Something deep inside finally pushed back. There's no going back now, and I'm so happy about that.

I'm sharing this (for the very few people who still read here) because I suspect many of us have this experience at some time or another. It's the famous mid-life crisis! But it doesn't feel like a crisis, and I understand middle-aged men a lot better now. Because men have it harder than women with this, I think. All those expectations piled on them. All that social repression of their hearts. But when you get to fifty it feels old enough to finally say no, I can't bear being something else any longer, I don't know who exactly I really am but it's time to be brave and cast off all the skins that aren't actually mine, and find out my truth.

Some people are lucky enough to have never clothed themselves in the wrong skins. People raised to be confident and sure of themselves. People who aren't plagued by intense empathy for others. People who found their truth young. For everyone else - I wish you the courage to become naked, and the love to stitch your wrong skins together and fly them like a flag in the wind.

the mapless writer with unkempt shoes

Cold wind is furrowing the day. I can sense the sea scratching away at stone, half a mile away. But I sit here almost warm, almost comfortable, disinclined to be wild today.

When I wrote Deep in the Far Away, some years ago now, I was warned that it can be hard maintaining momentum for writing a serial story. But I only had twelve weeks and managed to find the discipline within myself because I loved the story and wanted to know how each new chapter would unfold. Tam Ys has proven different. I love writing pieces for it but find it difficult picking up the thread of the moonbear's tale ... even knowing how it ends, it's hard to get there. I am going to sit down to the work tonight or tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to let me know they are reading and enjoying the stories. It's been a lovely way to close this chapter of my writing career. I want to know how the next one unfolds, but the magic of it is that I really have no idea. I'm still dreaming words into shape. Dreaming dreams into something real. I love this way best - this uncertainty, exploring a forest rather than following a map. I love getting lost under strange stars and finding my way to my destination guided only by the way an ocean changes the sky above it - looking up to locate the land where I want to be.

emotional learning

Just a drift of a thought today, as the day eases away towards darkness ... they say there are three styles of learning: auditory, kinisthetic, and visual. And then they go on to add subsets and say you can mix them and it all gets quite intricate in the way psychology tends to do. (I'm not a big supporter of psychology, and I say this having studied it and having worked as a counsellor. But that's not my thought.)

It occured to me today they leave out another important style of learning. The feeling style. This is how I learn. It's not just a matter of feeling love or excitement for a subject. I'm talking about a feeling within the body, a sensation in the solar plexus, a texture on the tongue, a thickness to the breath, a curvature of emotion, a tug on instincts.

Maybe it's a synaesthetic thing. Or maybe it's too ephemeral, difficult, unmeasurable, to write scholarly articles about, so it gets ignored. 

Do you learn in a way which is different from those documented?

the importance of professional community

I went outside last night between squalls to put the rubbish in the bin. On my way back indoors, I stopped by the rosemary bush to consider how it needed pruning. I snapped off one branch, and could not seem to stop. As the north wind swirled dark and solemn around me, and rain whispered at the edges of my world, I pruned that rosemary bush, leaving the broken branches on the grass like offerings to the storm god. For the first time in months, the wind brought me news of my hills. I thought about how lonely and displaced I'd felt when I was away recently in the farmlands. I thought about how I wonder if I'm a city girl or a quiet suburb girl and how I haven't been content for a long time. And last night I knew again - same as I've always known - that there's only one true home for me. The wind-shaped hills beside the wild white sea.

People tell me my writing touches them. I'm not repeating that to brag - it's central to my past, my current transitional time, and my questions about the future. I have been a writer all my life, it is my identity, it literally saved me more times than I can count. I worked endlessly at improving my writing ability. And I touched readers, which means more than I can say. But I struggled with finding writing fellowship in my particular area of focus. It was there but I always found myself on the edges, perhaps because I live at the far edge of the world, perhaps for other reasons. In the end I had to leave, for the sake of my emotional well-being.

So now I write differently, trying to make a new home. I've lost readers but found a truly good, supportive, egalitarian, professional community. It feels like I've gone from farmlands to the town, and I'm less lonely, less isolated, feeling more valued, more encouraged. I am wondering, will I still touch other people so deeply with my writing? I know I won't. I'll make them laugh (hopefully) and energise them (hopefully) but the deep poetry has gone. I haven't lost my quiet rootedness and the haunt of the wind, but I'm still working out how to express it in new ways.

I am a writer. I am an author. I have left behind decades of gathered wisdom about songlines, earth magic, old mysteries, and am exploring new fields of wonder. It's a whole new way of writing - which means its a whole new me.

Be where you are

There's a new story at Tam Ys about a woman who dreams the sea. I don't love the sea myself, but being so far from it recently was difficult. Even the storm we had one night seemed less powerful somehow, its voice thinner, although it stirred the trees in a way I always thought I loved, and that I've complained about not having here on the coast. I found myself missing the undrowned voices of the ocean. It was harder to breathe in the heartland; despite being surrounded by a vastness of fields and hills and forests, I felt trapped.

I love the shoreline, the edge, the distant luring sky. If that has to come with ocean, so be it. And I do love to write about the sea, for it's rich with language and poetry. I guess for some of us we have to leave a place to understand our connection to it.

So much is changing for me these days. I feel like I've been injured and am learning to think, walk, be, again. Sometimes I miss the way I was, other times it literally gives me a headache if I contemplate going back to that. Even knowing that I'm letting people down, and losing friends, and feeling terribly alone in this transitional space that I don't understand and certainly have not mastered yet. The paths ahead seem lovely, strange, daunting. As I begin slowly to follow them, I pack and repack what I want to take from before. And I wonder if I'll ever actually return, or if my new adventures are my new home.
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Thanks & Blessings.