We’re so pleased to welcome a post from Artemis Grey, who published her first novel, Catskin, in March 2016! Artemis has attended Sirens since our first conference in 2009. Below she shares her Sirens journey.
Once upon a time there was a feral girl who loved writing more than anything. She loved many things, horses, and other animals, running barefoot through the wilds, and drinking from springs on hillsides. But she loved writing just a little bit more. The feral girl wrote stories that weren’t very good, and she wrote stories that were a good bit better, and then she wrote stories that were very nearly good enough. But not quite.
She sought out other writers. Her writing, they explained did not say anything Important. In order to succeed, they told her, she needed to learn how to convey Important things. The girl did not know, then, that all of the Important things those writers were talking about were being written and perceived through the narrow gaze of the white, cisgendered male. What she did know, is that those things were not the things she wanted to write and perceive.
So the feral girl looked elsewhere, to the writers she so admired, who wrote stories about women who slew dragons, women who became dragons, and women who ruled nations and ended wars. Stories which were not written from one narrow perspective but through many and varied visions. And she discovered that some of those authors were going to a place called Sirens. It was a conference. The first of its kind. No one quite knew what to expect.
She had never gone on a trip alone, not halfway across the country, through airports congested with people, and on airplanes choked with them. But she wanted to know if there was a place for her, if there were other feral girls out there who wrote stories that were almost good enough, and other women who glided between the borders of expectation and propriety. So she went to Sirens, and everything changed.
The girl was welcomed not as a stranger, but as a sister returning home. She was brought into a fold where authors sat in circles on the floor and discussed how to find ways of writing things that were important, and yet did not fall into the mainstream definition of Important. How to change society’s definition of what was Important. She discovered, within Sirens, a world of women supporting women, supporting ideas, and processes, and points of view. A world of women embracing everything that makes them different while finding unity in everything that they share. Her Sirens Sisters did not teach her how to change herself in order to speak out, they taught her that once she discovered her own voice, it would be loud enough to be heard.
It’s been eight years now, and the feral girl has attended every Sirens. She will always attend Sirens. It is home to her heart, and her sisters of the written word. Sirens was where she grew to become the writer she is, where she wants to grow old as she continues to evolve as a writer, and where she wants to help show other feral girls that they are not alone. That their differences are what make them strong, and that their views, what they have to say, and the stories they want to tell, are all Important.
Artemis Grey was raised on fairytales and the folklore of Appalachia. She’s been devouring books and regurgitating her daydreams into written words since childhood. She can most often be found writing by a crackling fire or rambling barefooted through the woods and mountains, napping (yes, napping) on horseback, searching the depths of random wardrobes and wriggling into hollow tree trunks. In her downtime, she herds cats, which is just as entertaining as it sounds. She hopes to make her readers look at the world they’ve always seen, and see the world they’ve always envisioned. Her debut contemporary YA, Catskin was released March 17, 2016.