I have written before about how much it has helped me to realise that I do not have a voice naturally woven through with oak roots and the memory of nameless herb-witches; I am a wild sky writer. My storytelling instinct is not drawn from the old earth, nor is it grounded. I want to write the spaces.
Even knowing this for certain, I've spent the past few months struggling with it. I suspect this is because I am entering the age of deep womanhood, and our archetypes for this seem to be earthy, dark-forested. It's hard to think of many mythic old women riding dragons, questing for the sake of a lover, or transforming themselves into white-winged birds merely for the passion of flying through light and shadow, beyond the world. Old women are generally the hearth-keepers, pot-stirrers. Baba Yaga has her mortar and pestle of course, but she is seldom the heroine of an adventure. Seldom are her vulnerabilities explored, her silences unravelled.
I have been trying to resonate with the energy of deep womanhood, but I guess I will always tend windward. For example, I spent months developing a beautiful vision of a post-apocalyptic utopia, complete with its own poetry and mythology - only to find myself wanting to take the heroine out of it, sending her to wander the empty wild places instead. I know most of my readers would be more interested in the utopian community, but my imagination couldn't bear to sit still within in. Maybe one day I will be old enough to write that book.
My stories are generally not deep, in the earthy, rooted sense. They speak of a moment, a space, an horizon. I write about sorcerers doing the wrong thing, well-meaning knights getting involved with strange or dangerous women, the moon in love, the afterwards of stories, and quite a few birds. I have tried to plant story in rich ancient soil and grow something mythic that will speak with seed and leaf, sunlight and fungal scent - but then I can't breathe. I'm in my wrong element.
I wonder though how many women feel the same as I do, and that's why Young Adult literature is more popular with adults than teens. Maybe it's not that they want to read stories about teenagers, but that they want stories which draw them aloft, carry them with a thrilling uncertainty, and share with them a sense of the delicate, mysterious nature of life. Maybe that's what romance novels do for them also. I'm beginning to accept that we need high, loose, free, invigorating stories just as much as we need deep ones. Not every reader finds resonance with the earth element.