Good-Bad Girls, Barbie, and Other Wild Women Archetypes, Interview with Vanessa Sage, part 2
Good-Bad Girls, Barbie, and Other Wild Women Archetypes, Interview with Vanessa Sage, part 2 – How To Write the Future podcast, episode 81
“… I did have that moment like Barbie did, where this existential crisis, this journey to the underworld and I let go of everything and let go of it all. And in the process, I came back to the core and the root of my essence and who I’ve always been, and it’s just one of delight.” — Vanessa Sage
In this second part of a two-part interview on How To Write the Future, host Beth Barany continues her conversation with conscious leadership and business mentor, Vanessa Sage about Good-Bad Girls, Barbie, and Other Wild Women Archetypes including listening to the negative opinions and letting women be wild with their own voices.
If you missed it, Part 1 is here.
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About the How To Write the Future podcast
The *How To Write The Future* podcast is for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive futures and successfully bring those stories out into the marketplace. Hosted by Beth Barany, science fiction novelist and creativity coach for writers. We cover tips for fiction writers. This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.
This podcast is for you if you have questions like:
– How do I create a believable world for my science fiction story?
– How do figure what’s not working if my story feels flat?
– How do I make my story more interesting and alive?
This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.
ABOUT Vanessa Sage
Vanessa Sage, Ph.D., is a Cultural Anthropologist with a doctorate from McMaster University. She is a trained mindfulness-based coach, teacher, writer, and conscious leadership and business mentor. Vanessa combines a strong critical mind with a childlike sense of wonder to seek to understand multiple perspectives and remain hopeful in a challenging world. Resilient, determined, and with an incredible ability to step out of her comfort zones, Vanessa is carving a new path for others to feel at ease in their own skins, find joy in the everyday, and live a life of peace and purpose.
Transcript for Good-Bad Girls, Barbie, and Other Wild Women Archetypes, Interview with Vanessa Sage, part 2
Hey everyone. Beth Barany here. Welcome back to How to Write the Future podcast. This is a podcast where we help fiction writers and futurists and anyone who cares about creating new visions of the future – we help you create positive, optimistic visions because I believe that what we vision, we help make it so.
Today, I’m very excited to present part two of my interview with Vanessa Sage. PhD.
Good bad girl archetype
What you’re talking about reminds me of a headline I saw from Book Riot and one of the headlines, said, good, bad girl. Like, you want some good bad girls? And I was thinking. Uh What, what is that? My association with that was, I think they’re talking about badass women, maybe even villains who are really good at being bad.
And I’m like, yeah, that’s a thing. I know there’s been a lot of TV shows putting the women in the center and they happen to be villainous and it’s not my favorite archetype to write, but I have some villains who are women. There is a discussion about that and I thought.
Yeah, let’s have a discussion about them and who they are, and how they think. Uh, that’s one of the wild women archetypes. I don’t think it’s the only one.
So I was curious if you were noticing that or if there’s other variants like we could go into subtypes of the Wild woman because I feel like any artist who’s trying to blaze a trail where there has not been one before.
It Is in that wild woman’s space. And I think that is why, people have sometimes looked at me oddly, and maybe, Sinead O’Connor got that.
When you speak up about things that have been hidden. Or in my case, often don’t seem believable because they haven’t happened yet, and I speak of them with such certainty.
People are like, what? when I was a child, I was like, I’m going to study at the Sorbonne And I did, 10 years later.
I still have dreams that haven’t come true yet. And people could look at me like, how are you gonna make that happen? And I’m like, I don’t know.
I’ve been wanting to make a movie for.
Gosh, 17 years. Guess what? I’m actually starting finally, you know? And before that, I was completely enamored by film and TV. So it’s like dreams can come true. Don’t give up. That’s my big message for folks too.
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Yeah. So some of the wild women archetypes that you are attracted to or you are noticing out in the world, can you give them some sub-names, like subgenres?
When I was first listening to talk about the kind of the good, bad girl, I thought about, I actually thought about Billie Eilish. She does that really well, and I remember when she really hit, when she became really, really big, I thought, ah, this is, this is the new generation and this is what I hope for the next generation, that you can just show up, be badass if you wanna be. And that’s fine. And I’m seeing the younger generation do this. I’m like 48, so what am I, Gen X?
I think. So we’re both Gen X I’m 55, so whatever that is. I dunno.
So our generation we’re dealing with different barriers and different struggles than I think that the younger generations are dealing with. They’re dealing with climate anxiety. I’m also dealing with it, but I didn’t deal with that as a young child having panic attacks about the state of the world.
I was upset that there was garbage on the street. That was my big injustice, you know?
Mm-Hmm. Yeah, not the same. I see the younger generation doing this, but then I also see, as women are getting more powerful in their voice, there’s also a kind of clamping down on that as well because I think whenever the wild woman comes out, it threatens whatever that existing power is whatever the wild woman is trying to say about a different possibility, a different way of being, it threatens what has been.
It makes sense. Of course, people are gonna try and suppress that because what is that gonna mean? What is that gonna mean for me? Does that mean I have to be wild? What if my entire life has to change because I’m honest with myself? You know, it’s very threatening.
So I do understand it, but. Let’s open up, let’s let ourselves be ourselves. And I think it starts, it starts inside.
I say this to myself all the time. I’m a large woman in a world with fatphobia. And I say, Vanessa, you will not oppress yourself today. Starts here.
Yeah. That’s so powerful because we all have built-in oppression that we’ve learned, from our culture, from day one, including women putting themselves down because they didn’t fit the norm. And I experienced that in my household.
My mother. Looks like she could be from. Any number of places, but not Anglo-Saxon. She could maybe be Mexican or Polynesian, or she’s even accepted in France, is like, oh, you look kind of like us. There’s a picture of my, great-great aunt who looks Asian.
I have ancestors who came from Odessa and who, influenced by the Mongols and all that. And my dad looked Italian. My sister looks sapphic.
And I look like a little Polish woman short and squat and big-hipped and blondish, I called myself when I lived in Europe.
I’m a Jewish gypsy. Figure it out, throw in some Celtic in there. I felt that the oppression that we just put on ourselves and what if, what if it was okay? What if we felt safe enough to explore the edges of where, like those little tendrils, they just wanna grow into the light, you know
And, and what if we felt safe enough and nurtured enough inside of ourself to be able to explore and to stretch out, and what would that look like for? Everyone. Girls especially, because that’s my focus.
So I’ve taught six times now in Saudi Arabia and I get to be in a classroom of people who want to learn creative writing and who want to learn creative entrepreneurship.
And I hear stories of struggle and I hear stories of oppression and yet I also see them blossoming. And I see this cultural center offering these courses and not just mine, all kinds of amazing courses and. It’s like they’re encouraging the people to be themselves and yet, and yet, Saudi Arabia is – it’s not a repressive regime but it clamps down still.
And then I see these young women, I had some teenagers in my class this past June, and they are so imaginative. And their heart is coming out through – their yearnings are coming out through their stories, and then I hear the restrictions that are still on them or how their choices are limited and it’s like, whoa, what a contradiction that they are living inside of so richly.
I think we’re all living in those contradictions, some more than others. I have a tremendous amount of freedom, yet I still bump up against the restrictions. No one said it to me directly, but it’s in the zeitgeist. Like, oh, you’re, you’re 55. You wanna make a movie?
Like what? You’re starting now? what? It’s not been said directly to me, but I hear other people talking about it, and I’m just, sidestepping that. And I’m like, yeah, okay, let’s go, let’s swim in these waters, and I’m also not inside the Hollywood system at all.
I’ve never wanted to be. I’m in Oakland. We’re gonna go make it in Oakland. This is Oakland grown. Cool. Let’s just be rooted here. I don’t really care about the rest of the noise. I care about making stories.
How can you just…? You can be wild, but you don’t have to throw everything away.
What if you could be wild for 30 minutes a day? And, how would that ripple out through your life, and what would that look like? I don’t know.
Yeah. I know wild women who just honestly want peace and stability. They just wanna be like, I know I’m wild inside, and give me a cup of tea please, because I’m tired.
I think we have this idea like, the wild woman is dancing naked around the fire and and constantly butting up against the culture. But I think that internally it’s a different kind of thing.
It’s deciding, I don’t care how old I am. I’m gonna do whatever I want.
I think that we’re living in a time right now where it’s becoming more and more and more possible for, for creatives to do anything at any age. I think our generation, we’re having a harder time catching up with technology. The kids who are growing up with their phones in their pockets, they do have technical, they have an advantage, but anything can be learned.
And, I think the other thing that I was reflecting on as you were talking is just the connections between ageism and wildness. Because we connect the wild woman with the witch, the witch being this old hag. As we get older, we’re supposed to get smaller.
We’re supposed to get even more invisible. We’re supposed to get even quieter. And what if we actually let ourselves speak? What if we actually let ourselves create, no matter how old we are, what we look like, where we’re from, all of those things? That’s wild.
That is very wild. Yeah. I love it.
Let’s live in that world.
Yeah. Let’s do, let’s live in that world. What would that would look like? And, how would people also hold space for that?
I was talking recently to a man who teaches listening, a coach and, really sweet person who I could really feel that he was listening to me. And how that just draws stories out too.
I feel like we need the reciprocal space of appreciation and listening.
Life comes out in all forms. Let’s create a forum where we can celebrate those expressions.
Coming back to gender fluid, like I write in the perspective of a man, of, a woman, of a creature of a child, a boy child, a girl child, inanimate objects. I’ve always felt, I had all those perspectives inside of me.
I don’t wanna be limited. I don’t wanna be pigeonholed and I met a lot of artists who are, they’re like, yeah, I have all these voices, so. who am I? I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow. Identity keeps shifting.
So I’m curious for you, as you look toward your future and the future of possibilities and the future of how you wanna show up in the world. I’m just curious what you are swimming in and where you’re with your work because you have this great history of supporting women in their goddess work and divination and introspection and meditation and creativity and yeah. So I’m curious what’s happening for you right now and where do you see yourself out there?
Wow, such a good question. And, I feel like the story is being written, so we’ll find out.
But I did have that moment like Barbie did, where this existential crisis, this journey to the underworld and I let go of everything and let go of it all. And in the process, I came back to the core and the root of my essence and who I’ve always been, and it’s just one of delight. I’ve lived most of my life – I’ve experienced depression, anxiety, I have trauma. There’s so much, and so many reasons why I could say I shouldn’t be hopeful, but when I look inside, the child of wonder in me just wants to be alive, just wants to celebrate life, just wants to sing with the butterflies and dance.
And so, my work, I support creative entrepreneurs, I support creatives, and I really want to create spaces where people feel inspired and supported to go out into the world and be resilient and choose life. To choose life above all else because what else do we have? And that’s how we’re gonna create the world we need to see. We’re not gonna do that through, all the noise in our heads that are telling us, which way to be and think and all this, we have to, come to the world, meet it, see it, face it as ourselves, and give something to it. Give something full and true and beautiful to it. And then let’s see what happens then.
Mm. I wanna be part of that.
I just wanna be a part of that. Mm.
Oh, that’s so beautiful. I get this image of, Ferdinand, the bull, the story about Ferdinand. I love Ferdinand. Oh my gosh. I’m thinking of Ferdinand and there he is. He’s that beautiful bull. He is sitting under this tree and he’s smelling the roses and the flowers and that’s his happy place.
And, yeah. And how can we show up and just enjoy what is life offering us in the moment?
And yeah, and I’ll say as a creative person, being able to do that and having the space to do that and allowing that in is, is the food of creative work.
Creative work isn’t just sitting down and doing the writing or the whatever we’re doing, it is actually going out into the world, being a part of the world, which we can’t help but be, and really drinking it in and enjoying it and all of that it offers– the connections, the companionships, the food, the outdoors, the comforts, and even sometimes the upsets, you know, and just appreciating, appreciating that.
I love what you were saying. It feels like there’s so many rules that, especially here, I am a creative entrepreneur.
I’ve had to really decondition myself or shed all those old skins that told me, well, this is how you’re supposed to do it.
And I feel like every day I’m actually deconditioning. Every day. I’m like, what do you want, Beth?
There’s the rules that you feel sweeping into you that who knows where they came from, but it’s like, well, you’re writing a new path.
You’re out there on the edge. So what is it for you now, today? And that’s, that takes a lot of courage, a lot of boldness, a lot of connecting to myself constantly. All the time, all day long.
I wanna wrap up just because, I feel like we can have conversations all day long, so much to share and talk about and explore.
If you think about people who are learning to write their own story, we were talking before we came on, I actually stand for not just putting positive, optimistic visions into our work, but also into our lives. How can we write or write again, write anew, a positive story for oneself? Can you offer any tips on that in support of encouraging people?
But also I know people can get really stuck in defeatism. They’re defeated, they’re, they’re giving up. Some part of them is giving up and I feel it when I talk to them and well, how do we help someone like that?
If-if they want, if they want to be helped, I guess is also the big part here.
How can you help them? Or what pieces of advice can you share today with them?
I would say that don’t look away. One of the things that can happen when we focus on telling positive stories and positive futures is that we don’t wanna see what’s difficult. What’s difficult in our past, what’s difficult in our present, what’s difficult in our lives?
And the only way forward, I believe, I don’t wanna say the only one of the ways forward is to truly see oneself, see one’s life, and let yourself go there.
Writing is, is not writing, living, creating a life, creating a business. It’s not just glossing over, the difficult parts. It’s, it’s the tears in your eyes when you, I know I’m onto something when I’m crying and I’m writing, and there was a time when I actually didn’t wanna write because I didn’t wanna see.
I didn’t wanna look. I didn’t wanna cry. Let yourself look. Let yourself face yourself as you are, as you’ve been. And hold that person. Hold that past. Hold that life with as much love as you possibly can. Think of something or someone who you love unconditionally. Maybe it’s a pet. Maybe it’s the sunset, maybe it’s a tree.
And hold yourself with that same love. From that place, you will be able to move forward and live a hopeful future.
That’s wonderful. I have tears in my eyes. I love that it’s so powerful to face oneself, warts, and all, all the judgment that our, you might be carrying, it’s okay. It’s okay.
That big hug that life gives us, that the sunshine gives us, that we hopefully experienced from real people in our lives, from maybe our parents, our mother, a loved one.
I learned when I was first starting my business, I felt so alone. So alone. I felt so isolated and disconnected from everything.
And I realized, oh my God, I realized-
It’s a strange path. What’s that? It’s such a strange path that we’re on.
It is. It is. Being a creative entrepreneur, you’re like, what do I do? How do I do it? What, who am I? And I realized, I don’t know where this came to me, but it came to me so powerfully. I’m like, Beth, you can’t fall off the universe.
You can’t. I. It’s impossible. And I, I made up some little poem. I don’t know where that poem is. I had my husband put it to music that never got recorded.
You can’t fall off the universe. And I’ve really reminded myself of that time and time again, and, and I feel like I believe it now. And now that I study cosmology.
I’m writing science fiction. I’m so curious about black holes and galaxies and stars and asteroids. Where did we come from and how did we evolve and look at all that amazing, amazing stars up there that we are actually inside of? We are part of that, our star is part of that. And I’m like, whoa.
Now I feel it now. And I study biology and I study the very small and the very big. I’m like, this is us. We, we come from those asteroids, the James Webb. They’re finding water, they’re finding everything. We are all a part of that. And the universe is holding us up. It can’t not, So that’s my little eulogy to the stars.
So thank you, Vanessa. Thank you so much for showing up today and sharing with us about the Wild Woman archetype and about writing our own story and facing ourselves and, I’m so grateful that you’re here with us today, and I’m so excited to share your messages with the world. And so how can people find you if they wanna connect and work with you and be in conversation with you?
Where can they go?
Connect with Vanessa Sage
You can go to vanessasage.com and I send out a weekly newsletter. I put a lot of work into the writing of that and just, it’s one of my joys. And I also will be opening up one-on-one sessions very shortly, and I do online group programming and there’ll be decks and retreats in the future, so there’s so many things coming up.
And then you can also find me on Instagram. I live there, but, I need to find other places because we can have a whole other conversation about that. But anyway, it’s Dr. Vanessa Sage.
Dr. Dot, Vanessa Sage on Instagram, Dr. Vanessa Sage, Dr. Great. And VanessaSage.com. And I just have to give you a shout out to your beautiful images that I, I’m not on Instagram a lot, but I see your gorgeous images inside of your newsletter, and I’ve seen you just make such beautiful images for years and they’re so inspiring. So just a big shout out to you about those. Fabulous.
Thanks for listening
Thanks for listening to my interview with Vanessa Sage.
If you would like to get some writing support for your science fiction or fantasy novel, I recommend that you sign up for our World Building Workbook. It’s a PDF that will allow you to think about key aspects of your storyworld.
And there’s some tips in there on exactly how to do that. So you can check out the show notes for the link, or just go to how to write the future.com and you’ll find it.
All right, everyone. That’s it for now.
So write long and prosper.
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ABOUT BETH BARANY
Beth Barany teaches science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. She’s an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist and runs the podcast, “How To Write The Future.”
Learn more about Beth Barany at these sites:
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