Mountains of Stories #2

2015-09-26 11.29.55A lovely workshop with a big group of people in the new Springwood Library complex. We were a bit worried about being in a glass-walled room but it turned out to be an inspiring space. The enthusiasm and participation were just delightful!

As usual, I am inviting all workshop participants to guest-blog here should they feel so inclined.

Which means I have to write up the piece I started writing in the workshop. The problem is always, for me, that I can either teach OR I can write. So whenever I start to get involved in what I’m writing during the workshop, that means I lose track of what I’m supposed to be teaching…it’s just as well Cymbeline is there or we’d never get past the first writing exercise 🙂

We did some generative exercises getting people to talk with each other about being in trouble, about what we love to read, about the stories we could tell and then worked on structuring those short written pieces into some sort of recognisable shape.

Here, in it’s raw form, is mine:


Knot Me


It’s like spinning: twisting the white silk around and around her fingers to build up the knot that looks like a  chrysanthemum and at the same time, imagining her friends travelling towards her, imagining the help that is on its way. There are an infinite number of knots you can make: slip knots, harness knots, sailor’s knots, shepherd’s knots.

I can tie you up in knots with a glance. I can sharpen a blade nearby so that your gut knots up. I can tether you to a hearth with smiles and porridge.

“Stop that!” He smacks her hand, hard, so that the knot falls into the straw. They freeze there a moment, giving us time to watch them. The Princess is too richly dressed for this environment. The fort is stone-built and strong but the rooms are small, the floor is covered with muddy straw and there is the rich scent of shit: dog, chicken and pig. Her robes are white embroidered with gold; she belongs here but dreams of something different. The Prince belongs here: rough furs, a dark beard, shoulders hunched with muscle.

They move again. She looks away into the fire; he drains a wooden goblet.

[the plot is that she uses the knotting to call magical assistance to her – the castle is cleaned up, music is played, peace talks are held, she builds a centre of civilisation there. The prince is ambivalent about it – on the one hand he is glad not to have to go to war all the time with his neighbours, but on the other hand he isn’t sure what meaning he has in her world]

[In the final moment she is placing the knot, resurrected and cleaned up, into a flower arrangement on a polished mantelpiece over a fireplace. He is behind her. She can see him in the mirror over the mantelpiece.]

The closing sentence (I cheated – there are more than one):

“I can stop this any time, you know.”

She smiles into the mirror at his rough reflection – he is a story now, a past thing.

“Of course you can.”

The closing sentence reversed:

Her hand shakes, she has gambled everything, he can stop this any time. She can feel the blade of his sword slicing through her neck, the blood and screaming, the-

“It’ll be fine,” he says.


I have no idea what I’ll do with this, if anything.

For guest blogs…watch this space!