Mountains of Stories – Invitation to a Blogging

Mountains of Stories

Cymbeline and I spent a happy hour or two yesterday talking about just how great the workshop was that we ran on 1 August at Blue Mountains Library.

Some of the aspects we enjoyed most were that we created a safe space for people to discover things in their writing – a little community where people could communicate in really interesting ways about their writing and their creativity; and that people really enjoyed themselves and had fun.

We’re still very excited (!) and looking forward to the next workshop on September 26th – sign up via your local branch of Blue Mountains Library.

In the meantime I have once again taken the bold and intrepid step of inviting people to contribute something to this blog – I’ve asked for a short piece of 200-500 words, plus some idea of how that piece was triggered or changed or enriched or informed by one of the exercises or activities in the workshop.

And here is mine:

What I Know About Dragons

I could tell you what I know about dragons: how they are carved everywhere in my home village – in the church, all over the pub, in the landscape. They used to hang over us at night growling and their flames lit up the dawn.

I could tell you about those flames and how they looked in the glow of the sun: like tiny suns themselves or rocket ships rising and rising and rising.

I could tell you about the growling: the deep-throated echoing burble that wells and broadens and deepens and hums in your bones and becomes, finally, a thunder-loud event in the sky right above you and far away and just behind your left ear, all at the same time so that you know you are going to die.

I could tell you about the hot stink of dragon breath: rotted meat and sulphur and nothing pleasant at all. They don’t floss or use gum or see dentists.

I could tell you about the dentist she ate once: A patch of sky. A black dot. Distant screaming. On the grass in front of us white-aproned apprentices are hauling hot rocks out of a bonfire to make a flat circle of cooking stones. The sky is perfectly clear. A cold blue shading into thin white clouds. As he falls from the sky, the screaming is louder and the dot resolves into terrified dentist all white teeth and flailing legs and then he hits the rocks and –

“Urrgh!” say the apprentices, as one.


This is part of a much longer story called The Dragon’s Restaurant, something I’ve been battling with for years. It’s about a dragon who runs a restaurant and is not a children’s story. It’s really quite gory in places. The exercises that triggered this piece were “I could tell you about…”  – the exercise of writing over and over again from the same provocation – and the Telescopes exercise where I looked at a patch of empty sky and thought about dragons and experimental cooking methods and hoped that I wasn’t going too far…again.

Watch this space for the guest blogs.