an earth child writing

Often you will find me scrounging up stories about the sea. I guess it's inevitable, since the sea surrounds me. But those stories never work. I understand sea-love. I witness it in most of the people I know. I myself had a tryst with the ocean when I first came out of my hills. But sea-love is not integral to me. I am a dirt child, a tree-root child who breathes best in musty shadows.

When I write water stories, I am writing in a foreign language.

So she found a meadow where clover grew purple white and gold, and garlic flowers seemed like thousands of moon-drops, moon dreams, floating in the long grass. She waded out to where willows overflowed the green, and she lifted her face smiling to a familiar scent, the sea. It was just there – just outside the touch of vision – a tugging presence, a promise, that tickled her with fresh salty breezes and the barest suggestion, now and again, of tide music. But she did not go that way. Sea stories were fierce and strange and haunting. Although Fenna had been raised with them, they offered her no sense of belonging. She turned back, and she looked through wispy willow shadows at the flowers, the grass, the bees harvesting in sunlight. That was what she wanted. Something tender and earthly mild.

- from Tracking Wild Poetry, in Driftways.

(Although Fenna went on to learn that there was nothing mild at all about what she loved.)

When I turn my mind to earthy tales, I feel the words crumble rich and dark in my hands, I swallow the smoke, I hear the pulse of energy which goes between trees. I find that I can write deeper and braver, because what I'm reaching for through the story, into its heart, is not some mystery or dangerous proposition - it is only what lies within my own heart too.

I am writing myself home.

This may be strange to other writers. The common idea these days is that storytelling is about conflict. I don't follow that path. My stories may include conflict, but I wish for their spirit to be more about the characters coming home to themselves. You can read more about this here. It's why I sometimes end stories without any resolution of the conflict. Because it never was about that in the first place.

I have a different way, I have a different will,
I have a different word to say.
I am coming back by the road around the side,
by the outside way, from the other direction.

- excerpt from Stammersong, 
in Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin

These past couple of days, I have been thinking a lot about why I write, and about what energy I want to bring to the world with my pen. Today, I have remembered that how I write is also integral to the questioning. I can not write true words if I keep my soul and my instincts exiled from their homeland.

What is your element as a writer? Does your writing change when you try to write within a different element?

Woodsmoke and Earthsong : If you are also an earthy kind of writer, these links might appeal to you.


  1. a beautiful post

    made me ponder earth and sea and my relationships with each

    my favorite relationship with writing is when it pours through me and i must write it down

  2. Oh, I simply swoon at your posts, Sarah. Every one of them.

    I am not a writer. Words and I are often at odds with each other. I write in image. And my image is earthy and raw.

  3. i would love to write about my mother in law and the alzheimers she is dealing with…but right now, it's not my story to tell :(