When I was seven, I decided that I wanted to be a novelist. I also wanted to be a ballerina and a psychiatrist, so I’m sure my parents didn’t take too much notice of a precocious child’s declarations. I used to wear my ballet leotard and slippers everywhere, twirling with a pen and notebook in hand. Oddly, I also liked to pretend I was a therapist (in tights of course), administering home-made Rorschach tests to my best friend; how I knew what an inkblot was, I don’t know. Now, at fifty, I look back at my almost thirty-year career as a high school dance / drama / special education teacher and think, “well, yes, I actually did become a version of those things.” I have had my fair share of being out in the world—traveling, teaching, choreographing shows, not to mention being a mom to an awesome kid—so I suppose it’s time for the writer to ‘take the stage.’ True, it’s a bit of a late entrance, but I’m glad she’s finally ready for her cue.
I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I’ve written my whole life, but the creations were more like secrets, squirreled away inside old journals and forgotten hatboxes. It’s only recently that I mustered up the courage to show someone my work (happily, it was the story that turned into my debut novel, being published by Simon and Schuster Canada).
I write because imagery is always waiting in the wings. There’s so much beauty in the world—so many stories begging for an attentive audience—I can’t help but listen. One of my favorite modern dance pioneers, Martha Graham, believed that every dancer had a creative ‘channel’ inside them; if we are open, present and ready to receive, we will be gifted with just the right imagery, at just the right time. The trick is to get out of our own way.
For me, writing and dancing are intimate sisters, in perpetual poetic conversation.
Writing allows me to dance with a pen; choreographing allows me to write with the body.
My debut novel, Becoming Leidah, (published by Simon and Schuster Canada) is on shelves April 13th 2021. It’s a hybrid of historical fiction, fantasy and magical realism. Set in Norway, the plot centers around a child, Leidah, who is born with webbed blue hands and feet. Her mother tries to hide her strangeness from the villagers, but of course, secrets always find a way into the light. Weaving magic and folklore from Norse and Celtic traditions, the story plays with the concept of time and different points of view, so expect to be a little surprised by how it all comes together. If you like folktales, magic and a bit of weirdness, then I encourage you to check it out.
Trust your intuition. Pray to the writing gods, the dance gods, the poetry muses, ancestral ghosts. Ask for help every time you are stuck, and send out gratitude for any and all inspiration. Find time for solitude every day. Talk to the trees. Believe in the invisible. Above all, follow the urgent ‘thing’ inside you, begging for a witness.
Doubt will always lurk in the shadows, but faith can shine brighter; if this story is meant to be told, it will be.
Anytime is tea time, but I usually start my morning with rosehip hibiscus or a simple peppermint tea (with fresh leaves). Always with squeezed lemon. Sometimes, a bit of honey.
My other favourite time for tea: whenever dessert is served. Preferably dark chocolate.
My website is the best place for detailed info: michellegrierson.com
There is also instagram.com/michellegrierson11
I rarely use Facebook but there is a small page here: facebook.com/michellegrierson11
(Becoming Leidah can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indigo, and Indie Bound)