I’ve been reading mainly non-fiction for the past thirty years – books on writing, fitness, and health, along with memoirs. Books like “Yarrow” remain on my bookshelf waiting for me to sit down for a moment and enter their world.
I was searching the library shelves for something different to read (a bit of escapism) when I ran across “Except the Queen” by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder. I was intrigued by the crows on the cover and a young girl with a tattoo on her neck. I read a few lines of the first paragraph,
“You are in the forest that is not your own. You squint at its brightness; the sunlight bleaching the familiar green, the scent of the trees dusty as pressed flowers. You have come out of curiosity, and shivering beneath the glamour you are wearing, you roam through the quiet pines and birch.”
With the image and scent of trees in my mind, I took the book home and over the next week, I read it like it was ice cream being enjoyed on a hot and humid day.
It had been so long since I’d become completely absorbed and lost in a book. In my early teen years, I loved reading Fantasy, but then I let go of my childish ways to become a more “serious” reader.
As I turned the pages, I found I still loved visiting the world of Fairies, Baba Yaga, Witches, Changelings and Demons that needed to be destroyed. There was a great deal of using herbs to treat illnesses, ward off evil, and also simply enjoyed in a hot cup of tea.
I read about two beautiful young Fairy sisters who angered their Queen and were turned into pudgy old women. They experienced the invisibility that comes with growing old and no longer fitting into the world’s idea of what is desirable and beautiful.
At first they longed to return to their world and what they they had been before being cursed, but then they discovered the beauty of the friendships they made as older women and the enjoyment of looking beyond themselves to help other people.
After finishing “Except the Queen,” I began reading “Dealing with Dragons,” which is a YA book that I read when I was a teenager. It’s one of the few books that my memory banks have managed to retain.
I can remember the feeling of freedom as I rode my bike to the library, entered the lush garden of books, and plucked one after another off the bountiful shelves to strap to my bike and ride home. I would hide away in my bedroom for most of the day, escaping to another world where I was someone with magic and power.
It makes sense that I loved this book with Princess Cimorene and Kazul the Dragon. Cimorene is like no other Princess you have likely read about, which is the main crux of her problem.
She is stubborn, smart, and resourceful. She attempts to learn how to fence, cook, read Latin, and do magic. Everything she does is greeted with a reminder that such things are “just not done” by a Princess. So she runs away to live with and serve the Dragon, Kazul.
Early in the story, Cimorene was discussing with a frog that she didn’t want to marry Prince Therandil, a marriage arranged by her parents. The frog asked her what she was going to do about it? Cimorene answered that she had talked to her parents but couldn’t change their minds. The frog said, ”I didn’t ask what you’d said about it. I asked what you’re going to do. Nine times out of ten, talking is a way of avoiding doing things.”
Wisdom can come from the most unlikely places.
However, it’s unlikely to come from these two…
Over a week ago, I said that my next post would address how my 100 Days for Spaciousness is going after five weeks. As I said then, I’ve been ready to give up on myself a number of times. I looked back through my journal and found that I keep coming to the same realizations over and over again.
In simplest terms, my enlightenment has been this: “Make a decision and take action,” just like the frog said.
Talking or writing about the difficulties and how I need to change is just avoiding doing what I said I would do.
And searching for the right answer amongst all the information and opinions out there and trying out one after another and another is just more of the same.
My new Tarot deck, Bonefire Tarot, created by Gabi Angus-West, has been agreeing with that conclusion.
I drew the Page of Swords on Monday. The Page is said to be her own worst enemy. “Matters of your own making are out of your control.” You look behind you, trying to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.
The Swords in general can indicate thoughts that are ungrounded (floating in air). My mind holds so many differing viewpoints, I “can’t see the forest for the trees,” and useful action is unlikely.
Thoughts alone cannot solve much. Only when thought is accompanied by action do you get results.
There’s that frog again, croaking out the same answer…
He’s so damn smart. But I don’t need another expert opinion. I already knew that.
I’m not sorry for the time I’ve spent reading lately. It’s fed my starving imagination and brought back some memories of the things I used to love and found that I still do love.
I’ll continue reading, for an enjoyable break from writing and because reading is a good way for writers to learn what makes a good story and what can ruin it.
But most importantly, I’ll write.