When I first took a class with children’s author and illustrator Storma Sire, I was struck by her energy and enthusiasm. She grins as she encourages her students to have fun with imagination-stretching writing exercises, and often emits a mischievous chortle at the results. As a teacher she has the rare gift of finding and nurturing the unique talents of each student.
A theme she emphasizes in her classes is creativity as a spiritual process, with exercises drawing on myths, fairy tales, and Jungian psychology. She donates her time to run a free writers’ group as well as teaching several classes. The atmosphere in her workshops is a mix of reverence (for the creative process) and irreverence (for conventional writing rules).
I asked Storma how her views on creativity evolved.
“I was sickly as a kid, so I spent a lot of time alone reading and occasionally writing or drawing. I was a ferocious reader as a kid. I kept a journal as well that I would write in. It wasn't until I read a wonderful book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that I really began taking my writing more seriously. I always loved the work of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung and their intricate ability to weave myth into personal life. Eventually as I became a more dedicated writer, I became interested in art as well. The two go hand in hand.”
Storma’s novel Lessons in Magic (which she also illustrated) tells the story of two ten-year-olds, Simon and June, who are on a desperate search to learn magic to save their hometown of Misty Mayfair, a town covered with fog for four months of the year. During fog time, all those with magical abilities come out to play - wizards, witches, goblins and ghosts included. Simon and June must master the magical arts if they wish to save their home from an evil wizard bent on revenge.
While trying to publish the book, Storma experienced some magic of her own.
“I was editing my book and was having a tough time with it. I was doing my laundry in the laundry room and a person that I'd known only a little bit at the time was there as well. We got talking and he told me he was an editor. He offered to have a look at it, then one thing led to another and I got published.”
Just 35 years old, Storma had worked in the financial industry as a stockbroker, and then as an actress and filmmaker before turning to writing and art.
“I read somewhere that the things you loved to do when you were 10 years old are the things that you'll love to do throughout your life. For me this is very true. When I was 10 I loved art, writing and painting, then something happened when I got older and I somehow forgot. When I reached my late 20s and early 30s I realized what I loved again. I had many different types of careers and jobs by then, but in the end I had to do what I loved if I were to be happy.”
She is also interested in psychology and its link to creativity. She volunteered for years as a crisis line and suicide prevention counsellor, and is pursuing studies in art therapy. She believes psychology and art share spiritual roots.
“I became interested in psychology after studying Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung. I loved the idea that "psyche" meant soul and that to study psychology was to study the soul. I think psychiatrists, psychologist, counsellors and therapists tend to forget this sacred beginning. I wish to specialize in art therapy as I'm comfortable with symbols and symbolic language. Profound and rapid healing can be found there. Not everyone can articulate their feelings, so the arts can be an excellent way to bridge that gap.”
She has recently finished her second book. I asked if she has a title yet.
“I've not figured that out yet. Titles always take some time for me. The second book is about two eleven-year-olds and their continued adventure and misadventure with magic. It is the sequel to the first book.”
As an artist, writer, teacher and future therapist, Storma continues to inspire those around her to draw on spiritual sources for their creative pursuits... and to have fun!
Written by Lauryn Savage
Edited by Kristine Scarrow
Lessons in Magic is available through Aydy press at their website: http://members.shaw.ca/aydy/lessonsinmagic.htm