Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Mythic Heart

Left to right... author Tiffany Trent. Author Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney. Musician and performer SJ Tucker. Author Annette Curtis Klause. Author, artist, editor Terri Windling-Gayton. Author Delia Sherman (kneeling) Author Ellen Kushner. Me! Magic maker and craftsperson David Shane Odom (kneeling). Artist Kinuko Craft. Magic maker and craftsperson Leah Odom

Once upon a time, I fell in love with the Mythic Arts.

Ours was a relationship that built up over time.  We started out as friends.  I knew I had a fondness for fairy tales from childhood, and flirted with modern interpretations in my teen years in the form of Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow's Snow White, Blood Red anthology series.  I listened without end to the music of Loreena McKennitt, and pored over the images of the Pre-Raphaelites.  In my college years, I discovered through the suggestions of a friend the works of Charles de Lint and Steeleye Span, and I felt my passions deepen.  When the internet was still young, I discovered the Endicott Journal of Mythic Arts.  I wrote college papers defending the eponymous lady of "La Belle Dame Sans Merci."  And then I realized that all of these disparate elements I so adored had a common thread and a common community.  I discovered that I was not alone in my love for the enchantment and imagination that flowed through all of these media.  By the time I returned to college in 2005 to finish school, I was prepared with an answer to the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?"  My answer, whether the querent understood it or not, was "Terri Windling."

Yep, her!

The vague properties of my quest were clear to me.  I knew what the prize was for which I yearned.  I just didn't know how to start the path to get there.  And so the dream stayed a dream, a vague resolution of "someday."

Until one day I joined Facebook and started getting to know the people who so inspired my entire world view as people instead of icons.  And one day I posted on Facebook how much I wished someone would make a book about decorating one's house and surrounding oneself with objects that are infused with fairy tale, myth, and story.  And the response was: then do it.

Theodora Goss wrote me and encouraged me to start this blog.  Bryony Whistlecraft suggested the word Domythic to describe the style.  And so I started this blog as a companion and sister site to my already existing blog about Pre-Raphaelites, The Beautiful Necessity.

Once upon a time, I discovered that the point isn't to wait until the right weapon to fulfill your quest falls into your hands.  The point is to use the tools you have now.  Dorothy just had to wish and click her heels and she returned home: she had the magic shoes the whole time.  September used her mother's wrench to save Fairyland instead of a sword.  The point is not to wait.  The point is to just begin.

September, by Ana Juan, from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

This past weekend, I attended Faeriecon, and attended numerous incredibly inspiring panels on subjects related to living a (do)mythic life*.  In one panel, Delia Sherman told us, with a deep-felt sincerity in her voice, that the person who paints her home, who cooks her meal, who writes a story...all are equal partners in creativity in their own areas.  As long as we live with intention, with the desire for magic and wonder flowing through all we do, so many things become acts of art and creation.

Robert Gould, Terri Windling, Shane Odom, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, and Eric Pope on the panel for "The Mythic Life."

Unfortunately, another thing that was discussed this weekend is how very difficult it is to be accepted anymore as part of the established large-press publishing field, or to make one's living off of one's art.  There are so many incredibly talented people out there struggling to make ends meet.  It seems entirely unjust that people capable of gifting such incredible beauty to the world should have to work so hard to keep food on the table.  And hearing about how difficult a world it is right now just cemented my desire to do everything I can to help.

Myself, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman

You see, reader, I am still working on discovering my own voice, my own creative vision and style.  But that doesn't mean I can't contribute to the tapestry that is the Mythic Arts.  At this phase of my life I want, more than anything, to promote the works of those who have learned how to tell their own stories, through art, through writing, through song, and yes, through the way they decorate their homes.

I will be working on solidifying my goals toward this end.  For one thing, I will be joining Twitter and trying to establish a stronger presence on several social media sites.  But I am also in the beginning phases of working on possibly creating a new website: a hub from which I can share my blog posts here, on The Beautiful Necessity, reviews of new and old Mythic books, announcements of new and upcoming creations in the Mythic Arts...a central location for everything I love and that I hope you love too.  

And someday, maybe, I'll learn how to tell my own stories as well.

*I got a special tickle at a panel on Mythic Living to hear Terri Windling and Delia Sherman both use the term 'domythic.' 


  1. Oh Grace. I just love you.

  2. Good luck Grace. I followed a very similar path to you, just substitute Angela Carter for Terri (came to her somewhat later).

    I know first hand that getting the traditional and mythic taken seriously starts in primary school. The children in my class will drop a book like a hot brick if they even associate it with a fairy tale, yet they all love fantasy!

    I too would love to make my living as an artist, but needs must so I teach.
    Once again, good luck and I hope the gods go with you.

  3. Love this. Love you. I have no doubts whatsoever that you will do, be and create exactly what is in your heart. You've already started...

  4. Oh I would LOVE to have a book about decorating with myths and fairy-tales... You have to make it! With lots and lots of pictures... Oh my it would be wonderful!

  5. Thank you for sharing yourself here in this post, Grace. I am on a similar journey myself at the moment, in trying to find a voice in which to express my love for myth and story. Much of what you said resonates deeply with me, and I wish you all the best on your quest. Don't worry about "learning to how to tell (your) own stories"--I think you are well on your way to do doing so!
    BTW, you are so lucky to have spent time in the company of Terri Windling. I'm jealous, but in the best way possible! :-)

  6. Stephanie, I love you too!! <3

    Charlotte, as a librarian, I agree about children today. Less and less books are being published to be filed in the 398.2 fairy tale section. Mind you, many still have that fairy tale aspect to them, but it's like it has to be disguised, like blending broccoli in with spaghetti.

    Mags, love you too!! Thank you for the encouragement :)

    Anna-Mari, I still have the eventual goal of making that! I want to try to build up some numbers here at the blog so that when I take the proposal to some small press companies, they can see the possible readership for a book of that type. :) So invite your friends to read and share here and over at Facebook!!! ;) ;)

    Jody, I'm so very glad this resonated with you, and thank you for the encouragement! Believe me, spending time this weekend with such intelligent and mythic people just recharged my soul. I wish *everyone* could have that opportunity.

  7. Grace, what a great post! Also, glad I got to meet you this weekend! I keep referring back to Domythic Bliss and your Catty Corner Cottage to keep me inspired on the home front. They keep my well full when the daily life stuff tries to run it dry (this month, dealing with squirrels in the attic and aging gutters, so glamorous!).

  8. Beautifully written, and makes me wish I'd made the 2+ hour trek to Baltimore this year. Such inspiration!

  9. When I first got to know you, and saw your love and affection for the Mythic Arts and the Community, you powerful commitment to it, as a true movement, akin to that that Morris and Jones nurtured, I knew you were really a kindred spirit. I knew you gift and value was there, and like the community itself, just needed some rooty interconnections to grow and spring forth. So glad I could help, among many, and know that that as you spread a leafy bower, that all of us, who take comfort in the shade, will find there, gladness and wonder. Thank you. I am honored to call you my Friend and Myth Sister.
    ~Bramble Shane

  10. Beautiful post Grace xx

    It think it is living with intention, in wonder and magic, which is really the most important thing to remember. I get often despondent and feel that I have nothing to offer, I'm not an artist or writer and I then get intimidated and awestruck by the people who are. It has taken me a long time to learn that actually just living my day to day life, keeping true to my nature and encouraging the people around me to do the same, is important too. It isn't going to change the world, but if just one of the children I encounter believes I'm a real faery I am doing my part for keeping myth alive :)

  11. Thanks for the inspiring and empowering post. Your blog has always been a source of joy and delight for me. Thanks for all the magical things you've shared with us :)

  12. Oh, this is really encouraging to read! I really sympathize with what you were/are going through... there must be something in the air... I've had a lot of creative ideas brewing lately, but have had such a hard time pinning them all down, figuring out how to tackle them, what to start with, where to venture to next, what resources to use, trying to be creatively authentic while still reaching enough people, etc. It can be so hard to slow down and become patient enough to allow the cobwebs to clear and the clarity of wisdom and inspiration (both outside and inside) to come through. Once those positive vibes combine and hit your "motivation" switch, amazing things can happen.

    I think I've always had an affinity with the ideas and expressions of the Mythic Arts community, but didn't know until recently that such a movement existed that embodied those themes! I'm really trying to get back in touch with Mythic things that truly inspire me, in hopes of nurturing some fulfilling projects.

    And I really want to attend Faeriecon next year!!! It's been my dream to maybe even perform there (and/or at Faerieworlds) some day.

  13. What a touching and honest post. I'm really so very pleased that you have begun to speak from your heart, you always did, but now it's beating faster! You are an inspirational person of many gifts. x

  14. Grace rocks.
    I was so happy to meet you at FC this past weekend- and meet a soul sister! The outsider misfit in me still remains a bit incredulous that the cool (do)mythic people might want to be friends with me too. I love your fledgling ideas for a cyber Mythic hub... and will aid you if I can. I see a very fertile time ahead in the community!

  15. Lovely post. It makes me wish again that MaryAnn and I had been able to come this year. The community is so welcoming.

    Someone mentioned substituting Angela Carter for Terri Windling. For me it would have to be Lin Carter. Don't know that he lived a particularly artful life, but he was the one to introduce me to Dunsany and Morris and Eddison and all. When I finally met Terri and got to work with her, it was like finding a long lost sister who celebrates my journeys with me awhile inspiring me to reach ever deeper into the dark woods. And when you get through those woods, you find the faerie community there to welcome you home.

    Hopefully we'll see you in Baltimore next year.

  16. Oh so many delightful comments!

    Amy, it was lovely to meet you too! It’s so true that not all of life is glamour and beauty…that’s definitely part of why I started this blog!

    Carolee, you should definitely go next year. It was amazing!

    Shane, your words really touch me. I appreciate that you saw the potential in me and have encouraged me so thoroughly for as long as we’ve known each other.

    Shveta, <3

    Bryony, I agree so much. Living fully in the moment and intentionally, always in that state of mind, is a constant challenge, but when it’s successful it’s SO worth it.

    Claire, thank you!

    Samantha, I really hope you’re able to pursue your creative ideas! And isn’t it a wonderful feeling of ‘coming home’ when you discover the Mythic Arts community?

    Minerva, thank you!! It’s easy to do when people are so encouraging.

    Jennifer, aw, thank you!! I met a soul sister in you as well.

    Charles, as marvelous as it was to meet Terri, you were absolutely missed. I look forward to sharing thoughts and ideas with you and MaryAnn next year!!

  17. I know this is really late but this post is so beautiful... thank *you* for being so inspiring <3

  18. :) Thank you Brittany! Never too late for an encouraging word.