The Power of Persephone.

When I went to Berkeley, some friends and I went to a party where there was a palm analyst.  It was like a palm reading Tupperware party.

When it was my turn, she said I had a “line of Persephone.”  Part of my life purpose was to be like Persephone:  to delve deep in the Underworld, and bring its wisdom back above.

When I mentioned that I was a writer, she said, “Well.  That makes sense.”

Do you brave the Underworld?

When I teach classes, I’ve often told students:  write what scares the hell out of you.  That’s where the power is.

That doesn’t mean just writing tear-jerkers or horror stories.  For me, it means writing about things that make me uncomfortable.  Things that I’m not necessarily sure I should be sharing with the outside world.

The scariest things I can write are the things that are the most authentic.  They’re the parts of me that I would be the most hesitant to share in polite company.  (Any company, come to that.)

What happens on Cruise…

With the Year Long Cruise, you’d think that I wouldn’t be looking for things that scare the hell out of me.  But technically, that’s the perfect time. Vacations are the times when you do things you would never ordinarily do.  You run with the bulls. Reverse bungee jump.  Find out what the hell “moon cake” is in Amsterdam.  (Be wary of that last one, btw.)

You’re with fellow adventurers.  If it works, it’s awesome.  If it’s a train wreck… hey, odds are good you’re not going to see these people again. Live like you’re on vacation, right?

My latest theme.

I’m writing a series about a temp who accidentally sells her soul.  To get it back, she needs to help her boss kill thirteen people.  It sounds scary, but it’s mostly funny, and fun.

The fear here:  the theme is about the devil’s bargains we all make.  The ones I’ve made.  What sort of deals have I made, thinking that I had to for my own survival?  What sort of devils did I deal with because I thought I had to?

What were my necessary evils?

My heroine feels like the patron saint of fuck ups, and she’s just doing what she’s got to do.  To say I relate to this girl is an understatement.  And the more her situations make me squirm, the more I know I’m on the right track.

Now your turn.  What scares you — and how are you writing about it?


Photo by RachelH on Flickr.


7 Replies to “The Power of Persephone.”

  1. What scares me? Losing the people I love. I’m in that strange place where I’m between children on the brink of adulthood and elderly, ill parents. I know how lucky I am: I have an amazing relationship with my teen sons, and in their late 80s, my parents are still very much a present part of my life. And yet, I know that change is coming.

    The story I am working on now is a YA ghost story where both main characters are struggling with grief and loss. It’s hard to write–an emotional punch in the gut everytime I open the file–but it’s also some of the most authentic writing I’ve ever done.

    1. Thank you for being so open, Lisa. Change, even expected change, always has some fear mixed in. Your story sounds amazing — a good way to channel your powerful emotions. Good luck with it!

  2. “You’re with fellow adventurers.” Fellow adventurers – oh what a lovely idea! Just before Christmas I started a blog. Each week I write about the amazing natural area I live near, with the goal of helping bring visitors to it, to the art gallery I operate here, and to the work of the artists who it inspires. What scares me is writing this way at all. I’m a painter – how dare I? Writing for the Internet is so public. So…outside world. Cathy, thanks for the encouragement.

    1. The photos of your gallery are awesome, Laureen… and I enjoy your blog! Besides, I’m definitely the sort of friend who encourages dares. Why not? Absolutely why not? 🙂

      I secretly believe everyone’s a writer. Why not you?

  3. Excellent observation about vacations! I moved to a new town last year and swore I’d be a tourist, getting out and seeing all the cool stuff, but instead I’ve hunkered in. Good on the Persephone stuff, not so good as a tourist. Thanks for the encouragement to get out of the hotel room, so to speak!

    1. I’d say you’ve been getting oriented — but now sounds like the perfect time to bring the stuff from the Underworld into the light. Glad you liked the post!

  4. Hi, Cathy. It IS intriguing how Persephone shows up for women at this time of year. Every year I am again surprised and need to adapt to these feelings of dormancy and hibernation, with the sense that it will be coming to an end eventually.

    It so bound up with the process of creation itself–with writing and with art.

    Glad to “meet” you via Havi. I like your web house.

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