Tag Archives: creativity

Tell your story walking

7 Dec

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For the last two weeks now I have been intending to post out a piece on The Festival of Ideas and ArtiPeeps’ future. It hasn’t materialised for a number of reasons,  primarily because I seem to have lost myself somewhere in all the swirl of ‘doing’ and plans for the future. There has been no space for any extraneous writing other than those required by funders. Upon exploration now it has become strikingly clear to me that during this year I seem to have foregone self-care for service, which ultimately (I know) can lead to no good. You don’t need to totally ring yourself dry, background your needs and story for the sake of your passion/vision/project. It’s easy to do but it isn’t health or well-being or sensible. If you do the act is probably rooted in something darker and often in personal history.

I know that my bi-polar doesn’t help the situation. Balance is hard to find when you’re permanently chemically imbalanced, and I’m so driven and generally enthusiastic that I forget that there is an underlying process going on that is triggered by stress and drives me from up to down: if there is an up there WILL be, guaranteed, a down (that is the way of bi-polar, I forget that).

I also have two very active and powerful schemas going on which skew my thinking: what I call my ‘I am responsible’ schema and my ‘Care for others’ schema. These are interwoven patterns of thinking, cognitive miswirings that I have to permanently handle. They are always triggered by ‘doing’ and/or creating and they complicate everything I do. They were powerfully triggered by The Nine Realms, and as this year has gone on I’ve had to manage them more and more. They are strong and nasty and can make me think I’m not good, make me hit myself, or take things away like self-care, meditation, gentleness, food or steadiness and replace it with cruelty, anxiety, sabotage and a level of self-detestation that is hard to understand when you think I would be feeling great about myself.

When I stopped cognitive behavioural therapy, even though I had come to understand my thinking errors profoundly, I knew these miswirings couldn’t be fixed. I was gently told that I just had to become an expert at managing them, and that each time I did it would get a little bit better. Inch work which accumulates. That each time I tried something new, like ArtiPeeps, or the BBC, or the theatre company, or the library, that I would have to face these schemas and ways of thinking again and again. I don’t think I was presumptuous enough to think that I would come through The Nine Realms psychologically unscathed, but I was and am, shocked at how quickly, despite the success of it and the clear benefit, my balance went, how quickly I chose to replace myself with ArtiPeeps and the greater good.

My self-esteem has never been connected to what I do, what I create. You might expect otherwise. My self-esteem has always been nurtured when I have truly felt I have taken care of myself, not sabotaged, not endured or stuck the shards in (again). An intrinsic feeling (consolidation) and not something externally manifested. This is why achieving things externally never lasts for me because by the time whatever I have decided to do has finished I’ve usually died somewhere along the line and am scrambling around in my mind for some resemblance of myself. Why have I done this again?!

It took much longer to tie up The Nine Realms than I expected. There was the success of The Festival of Ideas (which came as a delightful add-on afterwards) the wonderful coming together again, and then the sending out of the backer rewards (delivering) and the last payments of invoices, which only was completed today. Unexpected things cropped up too: I had to rejig The Nine Realms budget for The Arts Council only the week before last when all I wanted was for things to stop. After a year of regular 60 hr a week work patterns and driving myself towards this collective goal and celebration of collaboration, I just wanted it all to stop. How can it be that the event happened 11-15 September and I’m still putting the project to rest at the end of November? Every ounce of me had been given- willingly, and I had to draw on a sense of energy and a positive psychology that wasn’t there anymore. My best self.

I had to use every reserve to complete what needed to be done, whilst my feelings of badness started to become huge (that’s the miswiring and the stress). What should have elicited feelings of joy and pride left me more in contact with my ongoing psychological vulnerability (my grin can hide a lot).

Physically I have had difficulties this year: I now have to walk with a stick a lot of the time, and I am losing mobility in three of my fingers in my left hand. I have cerebral palsy and I think in middle age, things are catching up on me. I soon won’t be able to grip much with my left hand and without my leg brace I walk like a geriatric lobster. I’m having to learn a new way of being, come to terms with the restrictions of my new physicality. When I caught glimpses of myself in The Nine Realms event photos, I was quite shocked at my own vulnerability- how stiff and ungainly I’d become. This physical shift has been going on at the same time as ArtiPeeps’ growth. It’s ironic.

For the past couple of weeks I have banished myself to my bed- to restore my body and mind and to try and reinstate some balance in my life. Every single self-care and physical practice that had been so carefully created over the previous three years vanished during this year. I took it all away myself ,and replaced self-care and myself with ArtiPeeps. It was a willing, wonderful giving which I couldn’t control, but equally it can’t continue because it’s unsustainable, doesn’t allow me to create and nurture my own story, and to give my true best to ArtiPeeps. How can well-being be a fundamental to ArtiPeeps if I don’t practice it myself? It doesn’t set a good example and serves ‘old Nicky’-beliefs that, in reality, are long gone. This is what humanitarian Zainab Salbi said about the nature of giving fully:

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I don’t want to be that rung out towel. I want to continue to grow ArtiPeeps into something wonderful, and to celebrate the creativity and talents of everyone who is involved. I want to serve from a position of strength and (as much as possible) equanimity. Now, I just have to get the balance right and to keep on walking the best way I know how- with integrity, care and a quieter mind.

Addendum:

Here’s a profoundly valuable and insightful video by performance artist Marina Abramović which has further consolidated my belief  in the notion of challenge that I have recently embedded into ArtiPeeps’ new artistic statement

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As ever, thank you for your interest, and I shall endeavour to get a post out about the 3rd ArtiPeeps season of work shortly.

Nicky

P.S.  Deb Talan’s song “Tell Your Story Walking” was is inspired by “Motherless Brooklyn”, a novel by Jonathan Lethem

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The Seasons of Love: autumn by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace #4)

11 Nov

 

Universe

 

The Seasons of Love: autumn

 

Foundations

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I turn the page, you stay put. It’s okay. We can do that, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be together; I tell myself this as a mantra when I sense that shift in either of us.

I like to drink until my head fizzes. Not every night, at the weekends. I like to discuss human nature, the world, the universe, its stars, galaxies, time-travel, or the possibility of other selves. You call it, talking about the “ins and outs of a rat’s arse”.

You like to earn money, and relish the challenge of persuading people to part with notes or coins. You start campaign groups after watching political debates. You separate out glass bottles from empty tins for the bin men, and remember more about the reality of everything. I admire your efficiency: you won’t waste a Joule on matter you can’t influence.

At night, we curl up and wait for the cat to come home. I balance a novel in one hand and rub your shoulders with the other. You watch documentaries until you can no longer keep your eyes open. You’re ready for bed before me. We’ve given up on compromise. Compromise means you get crabby and I’m wide awake at 3am.

I wait in the yard for the cat. I scan the night sky by the back door and try to count the stars. The cat makes his demands: supper and sofa. I rub my arms in the cold-spiked air, and am ready to return to the house.

I carry my novel and glasses upstairs, in case I wake before the alarm. I’m thinking of the duvet and its comfort. I imagine the feel of you shifting towards me, your half-conscious mutter that you love me, your breath hot on my neck, your arms tightening around my waist.

And like leaves in autumn everything falls away, leaving our skeletons in readiness for the next spell when light and warmth trigger buds to unfurl.

 

The Seasons of Love: autumn is the 4th of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

You can find winter here, spring here and summer here.

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing. She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

Shirley’s debut novel, ‘Skyjacked’ is to be published by Urbane Publishing  in 2016.

Big thanks goes to Shirley for sharing her Seasons of Love series with us!

 

 

 

The Seasons of Love: summer by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace 3)

7 Oct

 

Conceptual cells

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The Seasons of Love: summer

 

Reboot

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He builds her, piece by piece. He doesn’t need to compare the image, grainy, not designed to display on current tech. He knows her by heart: violet eyes, long lashes, button nose, black silk hair and pale skin.

No one cares how the thing looks. He works for perfection but they’d be happy with bolts and big stitches. She needs to be wise and strong, obedient without question; something that will serve and protect; something that will adore, not destroy its creator.

He keys in height, based on estimation, body shape, based on his data entries – a combination of how he imagined, and the machine predicted, she would look.

***

She’d run up the path, arms open to be captured by him. He’d scoop her into a bear hug and tell her he’d missed her. It won’t be forever, that’s what he told his wife. Contract work, high paid, away from Earth for months at a time. He’d stop when the code was complete – he promised – they were so close to a break-through. But that was getting old.

His wife didn’t trust bioelectronics. Where should one life finish before the other thing takes root? She wouldn’t allow them to test the implant when Isha got sick. The therapy was high risk with side-effects. But they both knew the alternative. His wife argued treatment was too much for her, too much for them. Let’s enjoy the time she has. He watched his daughter transform from flesh to threadbare.

After the service, his anger multiplied. He should have forced his wife to agree to the programme. He didn’t know who to be mad at, his wife or himself.

He stayed at work when they insisted he should go home.

***

His creation sits up and opens her eyes. ‘Hello,’ she says.

He can barely look, or look away. She’s a blur through his tears. Already he plans how to make more, hundreds, thousands; if one crashes, there’ll be another ready to spark into life. He pictures how they’ll spring, fully grown and armed, like Athena. And how, godlike, she’ll remain unchanged, like summer on playback forever.

 

The Seasons of Love: summer is the third of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

You can find winter here and spring here

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing. She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

Watch out for the last season…. coming soon!

 

 

The Seasons of Love: spring by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace 2)

8 Sep

Shirley's FreeSpace Picture 2

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The Seasons of love: spring

Afterwards

Dana can’t cry, not in front of everyone. Bradley breaks down a couple of times. He leans against his wife and children for support. Dana holds onto the front row pew as the coffin appears. The service wasn’t her idea. She’d have preferred a woodland clearing surrounded by oaks and beech, the whisper of a breeze disturbing new shoots and a carpet of bluebells. But it was November.

Instead, she stands to sing, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’. She mouths the words, never comfortable with singing out loud, and listens to the rain lash against stained glass. She checks her watch, no need to retrieve the ten o’clock pills from their box. Her fingers twitch.

Bradley said she looked tired and asked about the Will. She’d gone grey since the last time they met. He used to phone once a week. Their mother would wait for his call while Dana ran her bath or made sure she had the right sized clippers for toenails. The rest of her evening consisted of drying, moisturising and plucking, whilst her mother reeled off Bradley’s achievements: his commercial appearances, his talented children and wife, his house, his car, his fancy suits.

Dana had fallen in love, years before with an entrepreneurial man, but she was never a part of his long-term plans. She retreated into her paintings. Her mother referred to her work as ‘Dana’s little hobby’. At first Dana took it as an expression of interest and would show her the pieces she was working on. Her mother would glance at them and talk about the time she won the school trophy for her collage. So Dana stopped doing that long before her mother lost hold of reality.

Their mother forgot when she was supposed to wait by the phone for Bradley’s call, so she’d sit close to the handset every day. Dana tried to persuade her that she could carry it in her pocket, but her mother didn’t trust that. Bradley’s calls became less frequent.

Dana ran baths, cooked meals and clipped nails.

She kept the trimmings, and stained them a multitude of colours, creating a page of flowers from her mother’s offcuts: bone-thin crocus petals, bursting from layered, green, convex stems.

She never showed anyone but intended to hang the piece on an east facing wall once she had secured a bright dwelling of her own. After the funeral, once everyone else had forgotten.

 

The Seasons of Spring is the second of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing.She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

 

There will be another 2 seasons to come so watch this space!

 

 

The Art of Storytelling: Norse Sagas from Millfield School Pupils #3

3 Jul
IMG_0799

Image by Nat Hall

 

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Year 9: Norse Sagas

Featuring

Martha

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Our Year 9 pupils have studied the craft of story-telling, and what better way to learn than by reading the Norse sagas, with their epic storylines and memorable characters? We gave them a brief to create their own variations on the Norse saga, drawing upon the old tales for inspiration, but taking them into new territory. Everyone in the English teaching team was impressed by the boldness and skill of the stories our young pupils wrote. Here is [ part 1 of ] a small selection. I hope you enjoy them. Our thanks go to Nicky for giving Millfield pupils such an exciting platform for their creative writing!

James Baddock

Head of English, Drama & Media
Millfield, Somerset, UK

ArtiPeeps has been thrilled to have  Millfield’s pupils working in tangent with one of our projects (The Nine Realms), and to see their talented, creative pupils on our site once again. It just goes to show how inspiring the Icelandic sagas still are and how alive the art of story-telling still is! For the past three weeks we have posted out 5 short stories from 5 of their very creative pupils. Below is the final saga and story.

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My Viking Saga

by Martha

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The Fegr province was regarded as one of the most beautiful lands in all of Iceland. Its snow- capped, mountainous peaks interlaced the horizon with silhouettes of all the interesting shapes imaginable to man. Wisps of glistening snow crystals illuminated like shining jewels by the effulgence of the moon shine, drift in the wind from the icy mountain tops, patterning the skyline. Its incomparable allure, a fit location to be the home of only the most divine of beauties. On the Northernmost peak, Iss Fjell, Ice Mountain, lived the most celestial of beings, angelic, and fair. Her name was, Sassa, the Ice Princess, the daughter of the great King Eeirikki Egilson, son of the once vigorous, candid ruler of Iceland itself.

Sassa had long white hair cascading in perfect curls down to her waist, her sapphire blue eyes were striking against her fair complexion, slender and tall, she had an certain elegance and grace that would be enviable to all women. Her loving and gentle nature was adored throughout the Fegr province, she would often visit the small town beneath Iss Fjell, where the inhabitants would approach her and could not help but feel at ease in her presence, as if she was part of their community. Sassa was young, only seventeen years old, she had an ignorance, a beautiful ignorance, making her pure, innocent… Her eyes had a light that should always come with youth, and her effervescence was enlightening. Her father rightly felt that only the finest of men would be fit for his daughter and, on the day of her eighteenth birthday he invited young suitors from every corner of Iceland to compete for her hand in marriage.

Little did her father know, Sassa, wasn’t interested in being married off to these great nobleman. She had fallen in love with the village huntsman. She had met him in the woods almost seven years ago, when they were both children. From that day forth she had met him most days. They would spend hours hunting together, and slowly they fell for each each other. The huntsman was a strong young man, named Vidar, he wielded an axe, simple and plain unlike the fanciful decorated weapons of the noblemen and had a bravery but yet a sentimentality lacking in most headstrong youths. Vidar was a descendant of the great warrior Bryanjar Erlingson, and it was evident he had inherited many of the qualities of an exceptional fighter. Of course the King could never approve of such a romance between the pair, a village huntsman in the eyes of the King wasn’t good enough for his crown jewel, Sassa. So Sassa kept their meeting a secret, a secret she had kept for many years.

One the Day of her matching, Sassa had decided to approach her father, she couldn’t keep her secret any longer. She told him of her disapproval of the matching ceremony, and of her dislike of the suitors he had selected for her.
‘Father I simply can’t marry any of these men, for I’m in love with another man’ Sassa pleaded.
‘And who is this other man!’ The King demanded, his tone burly and authoritative. His snowy grey beard shook with rage.
‘He is a huntsman’ Sassa replied proudly, yet her inner fear of her father’s anger showed in her timid expression. ‘He’s a brave man, strong and kind, he loves me with all his heart, isn’t that what you want for me father, to be happy?’
‘Not if it is to marry someone of such a low class in our society, a huntsman is not fit to marry for a princess, the men I have selected for you are of the finest in Iceland, surely that is good enough for any girl’, the king spat.
‘My huntsman is a far finer man and better warrior than any of these suitors, I would stake my life on that’ Sassa replied. There was an honesty in her voice, something that could convince anyone that her words were genuinely the truth. The king may have not been willing to believe this, but he knew his daughter believed that the man she loved was stronger than the suitors.
‘Than he shall prove to me, he shall prove that he is a better man and stronger warrior than the noble men I have selected for you. What I propose is a series of battles, If he defeats all the suitors , than you shall marry him, if you wish, yet if he is defeated, you will marry the single and first suitor that defeats him, you will no longer have a choice of the suitors and the huntsman not killed in battle will be banished to another Kingdom. If this agreement is broken, he shall be executed for treason’ the king suggested. Sassa had no other option if she didn’t want to lose her true love. The agreement was made and the next day Vidar came to the palace, to fight to the death for the girl he loved.

From a distance. The palace on Iss Fjell looked like it was entirely made out of ice but as you neared it was apparent that it was in fact a crystal palace, with spired towers, magnificent pillars, and decadent ballrooms. Every little detail within the palace was intricately designed, masterfully placed. Vidar entered into the cavernous marble hallway at the entrance to the palace. His footsteps echoed throughout the room, the sound bouncing off the high ceiling above. At the end of the hall was a throne, made of marble as the rest of the hall was, on it sat the King, his piercing glassy blue eyes examined Vidar sending chills through his body. Next to the throne stood four suitors that he would face in battle. The first suitor named Bryanjar was dressed in full armour, his steel plated appearance revealed his most well known trait, his coldness. He was a good soldier and the son of a great nobleman but was no warrior. Stood next to him was a young man named Cuyler, he was not as well built as the other men, he was small, and slight, however he had superior agility and speed, his skill was with a bow, it was acknowledged well that he would never miss. The next suitor was named Fritjof, he is a descendant of the God of tricks Loki supposedly. Fritjof was not a kind man in any respect, he had long dark hair and dark black eyes, like a snake, he had a sceptre glowing in an eerie green glow. As his name indicated Fritjof was known to steal many thrones and the peace of many kingdoms, by tricking his way into the many various kingdoms he had conquered. The final suitor was Hagen the highest son of the present ruler of Iceland Eirik Halvardson, his family were known to be ancient descendants of the God of lightning Thor, Hagen was handsome and notorious for his charming demeanour, any princess would have married him, yet he was desperately in love with Sassa, who he had known since they were children, the King was very good friends with Eirik Halvardson. Although Sassa had great respect for Hagen she didn’t love him. Hagen did not just have charms and good looks on his side, he was stronger than any other man in Iceland and was almost a giant in size, he was muscular and broad, Vidar knew that he would be perhaps his toughest competition, as Hagen didn’t have just sheer size and strength he had the same sentiment as Vidar, he was genuinely in love with Sassa.

The battles took place on the tower arena of the palace, it had a semicircle of seating and a stage that hung off the edge of the tower to a great drop below. Many came from all over the land to witness the choosing ceremony. Vidar fought Bryanjar first, Vidar refused to kill anyone in these battles, his only aim was to win and not get killed himself. Bryanjar was no match for Vidar’s skill with an axe. Bryanjar’s amour protected him from any major injuries but he soon conceded, Vidar had proved to the king he was a far mightier opponent for the suitors than he could have ever imagined. Next Vidar faced of Cuyler, this battle was less hand to hand combat, Vidar was forced to dodge Cuyler’s arrows of fire aimed directly at him, he hid behind the obstacles in the arena, he found some branches as wood on the ground and used his knowledge and hunting skills to quickly create his own arrow. Vidar grabbed an arrow that had landed in the ground behind him and loaded his new weapon. He waited for the right time before releasing the arrow which hit Cuyler directly in the torso, Cuyler was taken out by this unexpected attack, and Vidar had again proven not just his might but his cunning and intelligence. 

Vidar then faced Fritjof, it was night now and only the moonlight illuminated the arena, Sassa sat nervously watching attentively, her fear was perhaps greater than Vidar’s. Fritjof’s sceptre gleamed on the cool moonlight. Vidar charged at Fritjof with all his speed and force he faced certain injury, and, possibly, inevitable death. Fritjof dodged to the side in one fluid move. His enemy swivelled in his direction. His menacing eyes were a blazing red and his dark hood made the rest of his features indistinguishable. Vidar’s opponent thrust his sceptre forward, only to be met by Vidar’s axe. The two weapons met in the air with a resounding ‘clang’. Vidar was surrounded now by at least ten images of Fritjof which one was real he could not tell. He swung his axe around at each of the figures, slashing the real Fritjof across the face, the wound healed almost immediately. Fritjof thrust Vidar against the wall, his axe skidded along the ground, Fritjof was choking him with his strong left hand, Vidar although he knew Fritjof had superior magical qualities, he matched him in strength, using his free hand Vidar pulled a dagger from his pocket and stabbed Fritjof’s torso. Fritjof recoiled in pain, giving enough time for Vidar to escape his grip and bring Fritjof to the floor. Grabbing his axe he held it to Fritjof’s throat indicating it was time for him to surrender. But suddenly the image of Fritjof lying on the ground in front of him disappeared and the real Fritjof plunged his sceptre into Vidar’s back, a hollowing gasp escaped the audience and Vidar collapsed to the floor. Fritjof now stood over him, Vidar used this as an opportunity to throw his axe at him killing him leaving Vidar injured but the winner of the battle.

Hagen upon witnessing this battle saw how brave and strong a man Vidar was, he knew that he was good enough for Sassa and he also knew he would probably lose if he were to fight him, Hagen loved Sassa but in doing so wanted what was best for her. He could see how much she loved Vidar, and knew if he were to defeat him in battle how unhappy she would be married to the man who killed her true love no matter how good of friends they were. Hagen addressed Vidar personally.
‘You are better than any man I know, you are truly the perfect man for Sassa’ Hagen said, his statement was humbling.
‘Thank you, you are fine man for doing what is right’ Vidar replied, before Sassa ran up to him and told him her father had approved of their marriage. Vidar smiled and nodded in respect to Hagen before carrying Sassa away into the woods to be married.

 

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More creativity from Millfield:  

You can find some other poetry and writing from Millfield pupils here and here (their Freshly Pressed ‘Sense of Place Poetry’ 1 & 2) and their ‘QUEST short story openings‘ here.

Thank you for your interest.

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The Art of Storytelling: Norse Sagas from Millfield School Pupils #2

25 Jun
IMG_0799

Image by Nat Hall

 

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Year 9: Norse Sagas

Featuring

Reanna and Harriet

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Our Year 9 pupils have studied the craft of story-telling, and what better way to learn than by reading the Norse sagas, with their epic storylines and memorable characters? We gave them a brief to create their own variations on the Norse saga, drawing upon the old tales for inspiration, but taking them into new territory. Everyone in the English teaching team was impressed by the boldness and skill of the stories our young pupils wrote. Here is [ part 1 of ] a small selection. I hope you enjoy them. Our thanks go to Nicky for giving Millfield pupils such an exciting platform for their creative writing!

James Baddock

Head of English, Drama & Media
Millfield, Somerset, UK

ArtiPeeps is thrilled to be having Millfield school working in tangent with one of our projects (The Nine Realms), and to see their talented, creative pupils on our site once again. It just goes to show how inspiring the Icelandic sagas still are and how alive the art of story-telling still is! For the next three weeks we will be posting out 5 short stories from 5 of their very creative pupils. Watch out for another two stories next week.

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Vikings

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Viking Saga

by Harriet

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WANTED : STRONG MEN, ANY AGE. That’s what the sign said. I wanted to go but that decision now just filled me with regret. Why would I leave? All I wanted was for my family and friends to think that I was brave, but the truth is; I am just a coward. Killing people isn’t brave it’s cruel. How could I let myself be so cruel?

I shook violently. I had the visions again. It had been four days since our ship arrived back in the village of Shlaahra. Shlaahra was a beautiful village off the west coast of Scandinavia, Shlaahra was small but it had enough to provide any person with the essential equipment that they would need to survive. Massive trees sheltered the whole village and the crystal clear lake stretched out until it stroked the feet of the mountains on the horizon. My face had been slit open and I had lost a lot of blood but I was recovering slowly but well. I had grown up in the village of Shlaahra and spent all my time here as a child, never really wanting to leave, until I was about the age of seventeen. Leaving the village no longer sounded scary. It no longer felt dangerous. I would be fine. Oh how very wrong I was. I remember the day that those huge men who wore furry boots up to their knees and long flowing capes that were decorated in purple and gold. They came to our village looking for warriors. I felt an urge in my stomach telling me to go. These men that had come to our village were brave nothing could scare them. Every single one of these men had a strange look in their eyes I couldn’t work out what is was an first I thought it was just bravery but only now I have realised that it was something more, they had pain buried deep under their stern faces. I know this now because I feel the same pain, the pain of regret.

I had been stuck in my bed whilst the rest of my comrades had been out celebrating the success of the raid and the new land that they had conquered. If I said it didn’t bother me that I wasn’t able to celebrate I would be lying but the guilt was still eating from the inside out. I sighed and looked up at the ceiling the beams of wood that had always held my house tall and strong somehow looked weaker. The gash across my face burned as I applied one of the herbal remedies the doctor had made me. I touched the opening on the left side of my face it started just below my hairline and finished on my collarbone. I got up slowly and struggled over to the door. My hand wrapped around the door frame and I watched the little children playing in the grass, remembering when that was all I wanted to do all day. The visions of the children faded away and a breathe of fresh air tickled my spine, my eyes had been taken over by the memories that I so wanted to forget.

I was back on the boat. We were sailing towards the village that we planed to raid and conquer. The sea spat on my face and the wind danced with my hair. I asked myself “is it bad to be excited?” I looked up a grey blanket of cloud filled the sky. Fog engulfed any light that tried to be seen. Nobody made a noise. Sea birds flew alongside the boat screaming and screeching. The man sat behind me whispered to the man sat next him. “we’re close”. My heart started to beat faster and louder. The skeleton of a tree emerged from the fog.

I started to shake uncontrollably. I blinked hard and fast. The sight of the children playing came back into focus. I was now sat in the doorway breathing heavily I didn’t want to remember what happened next but I couldn’t control the thoughts from crawling back into my head.

I was now running up the beach, seawater splashed up my back. The adrenalin flowed through every inch of my body. My heart was pumping so fast I could hear the blood flowing through my ears. As we got closer to the village I heard screams and yelling. I smelt something burning and smoke filled the air. The men that had run ahead of me were burning down the houses of the locals. At this point I knew I should have run. I should have hidden, but I didn’t, I kept going. A man charged towards me with a sword. For a moment I was completely stunned, the man flung his sword towards my stomach. I dodged it. The man slit my face. The axe that I was holding in my right hand swung around, I hit the man in the side…not once…not twice…but three times. His blue eyes stared at me as he fell to the ground. I left him lying there dead with his long brown hair swamped in blood.

I started to tremble. This was the memory I wanted to hold back. My eyes started to fill up with water and I shut them tight. The images of that man that I killed so barbarically will never leave my mind. My memories with forever taunt me.

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Fire

 

Saga

by Reanna

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She came to us in our time of need, the Phoenix of the gods, Thyra. She was a great sorceress, she stood at six feet tall, with scarlet hair and piercing yellow eyes, said to be so bright she burned what she stared at. She wore a maroon elk’s skin, which she was given by the her grandmother on her death bed. She had the wrist bands of Thor, protecting her from any blows, stronger than the strongest shield, with a shirt formed with the hair of Sköll. She was adorned in a flowing grey Cape, and wore the armour of Freya, with the cunning of Loki, and the courage of Odin himself. She was so strong she created flames hotter than the sun, but this was not all the time.

She lived in this very village, a young girl, who hid a secret. She was said to be fuelled by the underworld, creating fire out of nothing, a pyromancer. She helped those she could, fuelling fires for the people of our village, warming the homeless and poor, she was highly thought of by the Chief of our village. He presented her with the Phoenix gem, a perfect kite-shaped jewel said to have been chiseled by Asgard’s finest craftsmen, and given a blessing by Nótt. The chief told Thyra that only the purest may control the raging flame. She never took that necklace off, and it served her better than any other.

She also was given Thrain that day, her beloved horse. Her father said he was the descendent of Hrímfaxi, the horse of Nótt, the night, who pulled his chariot across the sky, and gave us the peace to rest. He was a small horse, only 15.2 hands, but he was brave. He was a shining dark bay, with a luminous white sock on his left hind leg, and a bright white star on his forehead. He had a jump that could take you to the stars, and a spirit so strong he would never back down; he would face the mightiest of beasts and refuse to retreat. He never left Thyra’s side, and he was her closest friend.

In the darkness of Hrímfaxi’s sky, Thyra was out riding on Thrain, using the old leather bridle her father had made for her, and an old saddle that she made herself out of an elk’s hide. She was with the daughter of the chief, Astrid, a young girl of 10 years old, who had beautiful golden hair, with a black coat on over her white shirt, and brown, tight pants that she always wore, despite her father’s hatred of them, and her little iron grey pony, Carr.

They were slinking between the trees, Thrain’s coat glittering in the moonlight, Carr marching proudly at his side, his little brown eyes twinkling with what was normally mischievous intentions. The soft wind brushed through Thyra’s silky hair, her bright eyes seemed to glow in the darkness. Astrid was chatting away, as she always did, and Thrain was listening, as he always did on these little adventures. The Great Grey Owls were hooting, and the bee-eaters were hopping from branch to branch, disturbing the trees around the four explorers, as Astrid liked to refer to their little convoy. 

But this night was different. There was a shriek, and a strong wind followed. Carr jumped at this, but Thrain stood strong, and blew at the direction of the sound. Astrid whispered to Carr, trying to calm him down. Thyra moved Thrain between Astrid and the direction of the sound. She dismounted, leaving Thrain to stand with the diffident pony, and walked towards the sound’s origin. She summoned a bright flame to her palm, which flickered as she sneaked through the bushes.

Thyra approached a clearing. Glowing ashes were floating around her, their dying light illuminated her pale face. There were five great oak trees fallen around her, charred. She ran her hand down one, lifting some of the ashes into the air. There were dark scorch marks in the ground, but they did not seem of fire, but lightning. Suddenly, there was a snap of a twig behind her. She turned, her palm ablaze with a large blue flame, which was roaring as she stopped. What she found was a rather pleased looking Thrain, accompanied by Astrid and the little Carr, who had obviously been munching on a near by bush, as he had leaves poking out the sides of his little mouth.

Astrid had now dismounted, and was inspecting one of the trees lying on the ground, while Thrain and Carr were poking each other with sticks they found, and seemed to be having a good time. Thyra was looking to the sky, hoping for a sign of the creature that caused this destruction. She was soon graced with an answer, as Ara, the Banshee Knight leaped from the cover of the trees beyond the clearing.

 It screeched as it pinned Thyra to the ground, producing a blackened purple blade from its sheath on the creature’s belt. Its eyes glowed a deep violet, its rotten, yellow teeth dripped corrosive pearls of venomous spit from a sepulchral, grotto of a mouth. Astrid gave a scram and ran behind one of the standing trees, and Carr followed. The monstrosity clicked as it formed an electric charge in its hand, making it turn a luminous purple. Thrain has begun to gallop over from where he and Carr had been standing. He angled his head so that the stick he was carrying was driven straight into the Banshee’s side. It wailed in pain as the makeshift pike impaled its exposed chest, and shrieked as the gelding placed its weight onto the fiend’s torso. There was a large crack, followed by a blood-curling scream from the banshee, and Thrain stepped back off the squirming monstrosity that now lay before him.

Thyra stepped on the creature’s wrist to remove the sword from it, and threatened it with a dancing red flame in the palm of her hand, the Phoenix gem glowed on her neck, making her eyes seem to flow with a look of inclination. Her wrist bands were coated with the beast’s drool, and the light of the flame made then twinkle like the stars above them. Thyra ended the monster’s suffering, with a swift downward blow to the head from its own blade. The creature squealed for a moment, but then lay still as the blade passed through the back of its skull.

The creature disintegrated into dust, only leaving its foul armour, which Thyra had no use for, but amongst it was a shimmering white gem, which piqued her interest. She removed it from the centre of the pile, and set the rest alight. She attempted to examine it in the moonlight, but Thrain had taken quite an interest in it also, and tried to eat it whenever she lifted it to view. Astrid was hitting a tree with her sword, with Carr standing behind her poking her with the stick he had been playing with earlier. They mounted and left the forest for the town, using the stars to guide them home.

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More creativity from Millfield:  

You can find some other poetry and writing from Millfield pupils here and here (their Freshly Pressed ‘Sense of Place Poetry’ 1 & 2) and their ‘QUEST short story openings‘ here.

One more saga coming from Millfield next week!

Thank you for your interest.

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The Art of Storytelling: Norse Sagas from Millfield School Pupils #1

16 Jun
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Image by Nat Hall

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Year 9: Norse Sagas

Featuring

Olivia and Natasha

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Our Year 9 pupils have studied the craft of story-telling, and what better way to learn than by reading the Norse sagas, with their epic storylines and memorable characters? We gave them a brief to create their own variations on the Norse saga, drawing upon the old tales for inspiration, but taking them into new territory. Everyone in the English teaching team was impressed by the boldness and skill of the stories our young pupils wrote. Here is [ part 1 of ] a small selection. I hope you enjoy them. Our thanks go to Nicky for giving Millfield pupils such an exciting platform for their creative writing!

James Baddock

Head of English, Drama & Media
Millfield, Somerset, UK

ArtiPeeps is thrilled to be having Millfield school working in tangent with one of our projects (The Nine Realms), and to see their talented, creative pupils on our site once again. It just goes to show how inspiring the Icelandic sagas still are and how alive the art of story-telling still is! For the next three weeks we will be posting out 5 short stories from 5 of their very creative pupils. Watch out for another two stories next week.

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Loki

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English Saga

by Olivia

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The towering pillars and castle turrets sparkled in the dazzling sunlight. It was yet another beautiful day in Asgard, as you would expect for a land of the Gods. Loki sat rested against the trunk of a flowering tree, ripping up chunks of grass in a restless manner. Desperate to create some havoc (after all, he was the God of mischief) he racked his brains for ideas.

It was surprisingly quiet for such a lovely day; the courtyards and gardens lay untouched. That is, until the sound clip clopping sound of heels in the distance grew ever louder, until Lilija and her heels made it to the courtyard. Her ankle length silk gown swooshed past Loki as she paraded through the garden, providing him with a gentle breeze – much appreciated in the stifling heat. This was the most action Loki has seen all day, and he was growing increasingly restless and deprived of mischief. Frustrated, he turned back to what was left of the churned up grass beneath him. Until… Lightbulb! His face lit up; he knew what he was going to do.

Her glossy golden locks flicked back over her shoulder in the gentle wind as she made her way across the bridge from Asgard to Midgard, the land of the mortals. Although days as beautiful as this one were not rare, Lilija never grew tired of them and would never miss the opportunity to stroll though the beautiful forests of Midgard. Dappled sunlight fell upon her delicate shoulders through the canopy of trees above, and a soft breeze brushed against her skin. Usually she loved the escape from Asgard, and the opportunity to have her own space and be alone with her thoughts… but was she alone?

The brilliant sun dipped behind a large white-grey cloud and suddenly the woods became eerily dim, and a sudden chill fell over her like a blanket. Papery leaves rustled in the bushes and scraped past her ankles. Bewildered and unsure of what was going on, she became self conscious – she was not used to being out, alone in the woods when it was grey. Her mind sprung into overdrive, overthinking every danger gaining inspiration from every insecurity of the young goddess (there was many to choose from as she had such a comfortable life). Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched? Lilija did.

Loki perched on a branch in the form of a crow, watching over Lilija. It was not long until Lilija would tire and fall straight into his prank.

Lilija began to relax once she found her way out of the dense forest, and made her way towards a large flat rock to sit and rest her legs. It was cleansing for her to sit and watch the perfect nature that wasn’t artificially beautiful like everything where she was from. Although relaxing, the sun was hot and had been beating down on her for several hours now, and she was parched. Loki knew that Lilija would not be prepared for this – she never was – and this is where his plan came in.

To Lilija’s delight, she spotted a glass of water (or so she thought) glistening in a shady spot under the edge of another rock. Maybe if she wasn’t so desperate, or had the common sense to check whether it was water and not some foreign clear potion made by Loki, then what happened next would not have taken place.

Feeling rather pleased with herself, Lilija lay back on the rock to soak up some more rays before making her way back – or at least, she tried to. Something was stopping her! Bewildered, she turned around to investigate, and to her horror she found an oily, curly green tail sprouted from her coccyx! Her eyes shot back to her hands, which had now become dry, wrinkled and that same off dark green colour yellow/white claws had replaced her manicured nails. She felt her dress become increasingly tighter until a boil covered, bloated pot belly burst through the seams of her tailored silk dress. Lilija had never been so horrified in her life! Meanwhile Loki sat watching the whole thin, screeching with side splitting laughter; his potion had worked, he’d turned the princess into her worst enemy, a goblin!

Distraught, Lilija fled back through the forest to the bridge, so she could burst through the gates to Asgard and make it to her quarters before anyone could see her. However, the gates were guarded at all times by Horatio, guardian of the golden gates. Inevitably, she was stopped at the gates, and told to leave or face fatal consequences. As much as she begged and pleaded, Horatio was having none of it – understandably, he thought this ‘goblin’ was crazy. Distraught and in despair, Lilija fled from the bridge. What was she going to do now?

Loki couldn’t help but feel dreadful for causing the goddess such a hard time; he only wanted a bit of fun. He felt it was his duty to fix what he had started. Just as he had done earlier that morning he began to concoct a potion that would hopefully reverse the effects of the previous potion. Meanwhile Lilija was slumped, sobbing at the foot of a tree.

Several minutes passed before Loki’s potion was finally finished and sealed it in a small flask with the label ‘drink me’. Loki, still disguised as a crow, flew over Lilija and dropped the concoction into her lap. Confused, Lilija picked up and inspected the flask. Drink me? She has enough sense to ponder drinking this unknown liquid, but she was so distraught and in such a bad place mentally that she would rather die than live the rest of her life a goblin. Relived, Loki perched nearby to watch the potion kick in.

Lilija tossed the flask on the floor and held her head in her hands, staring down at her ugly feet. only they weren’t ugly anymore! Her manicured toenails and slim ankles looked identical to how they had when they left the castle that morning! Looking down, she noticed more and more of her was her own body! Immediately she ran over to the water, and stared back at her reflection. Beside herself with joy and relief, she ran to the gates before anything else could happen to her!

She flopped onto her plush queen size bed and sighed. It had been a long day, and certainly a walk she’d never forget.

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The Giant Skymir

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The Land of the Ice Giants

by Natasha

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Complete devastation. The war was done and lost. Any memory of a life before had long since been abandoned. You could still smell the dead in the air and the lingering of sadness dangled from the surrounding icicles. The snow was stained a vermilion red, decorated with bloody limbs and weapons retired from battle. It was harder than I imagined it to be. To return and see the utter desolation. The once alive mountains stood silently, mourning as they were forced to witness the slaughter and were able to do nothing about it. I wandered aimlessly for a while, reminiscing in the part I played that destroyed this once tranquil place. It was then the memories came flooding in…

My bloody sword hung limply from my quivering grasp. All determination had deserted me, but I knew deep down that I couldn’t give up now. The beast towered over me, I could feel his warm breath brushing against my sweaty skin. I swung my sword with all the strength that remained but I unanticipated the distance. The beast saw my fault and pounced while I was off-guard.

Suddenly I stopped myself, I didn’t want to remember. Maybe coming back here was a bad idea after all? I looked up at the sky. As a child I was told stories about the wonder and beauty of this place. How in the morning the sky would turn a pinky-orange colour and how gradually throughout the day it would transition into a deep purple. People travelled from all parts of the country to gaze up at those skies. Now as I look up all I see is black. Enormous black clouds, bulging with rage. What has become of this place?

The beast leaped on me with such force it knocked all of the air out of my lungs. My head hit the ice with such intensity that I feared I wouldn’t be able to get back up again. My eyes glazed over, a mixture of fear and fury. The beast pressed my sword against my gulping throat. I couldn’t fight it, I wasn’t strong enough…

I immediately stopped myself because I knew the worst was to come. A shudder of fear engulfed me as the memories replayed themselves, still as vivid as ever. To my horror my eyes fell upon a terrifyingly familiar sight. The gem still shone bright, even after all these months. The ruby stone was so large I could vaguely see my panicstricken face in the reflection. Slowly, I crouched down and clasped it in my hands. I am forced to remember.

The end was about to come. I knew it and didn’t have anything left in me to fight it. The beasts grin was repulsive, his eyes narrowed as he relished in my suffering. I had lost all hope. Suddenly the beasts expression altered dramatically. He roared in agony and turned his ugly head to peer behind him. Surprised, I tilted my head to see the disturbance. An emptiness filled my stomach. A fear worse than death consumed me. Gilleous stood behind me, sword at the ready, his arm dripping from a fatal wound.

A tender feeling came across me as the potent memories cut deeper into the already aching feeling in my gut. Never had I felt so much pain. I couldn’t fight back the tears so I fell to my knees. Hoping the Gods would rescue me from this
inescapable grief…

Gilleous looked deep into my eyes then swung his sword across the beasts chest. The beast howled in agony and retaliated by hurling his axe at Gilleous. However, he narrowly missed his left shoulder. Seizing the opportunity Gilleous plunged his sword into the beasts chest. The beast screamed with rage and fell to the floor. Gilleous stumbled over to me, holding out his hand to help me stand. I laughed with relief. Everything was going to be alright. Immediately I regretted that thought. Gilleous’s comforting smile was suddenly replaced with a shocked, pained
expression. He dropped to the ground and to my horror I saw an axe, encrusted into his back. I saw the despair in his eyes as his body crumpled into a heap on the ground. The beast was lying on his back, bleeding profusely, grinning hysterically. Satisfied with his final kill.

I just wanted to die. The pain was so unbearable. I hadn’t cried like this since the day of his death. It seemed that I had been building up all this emotion deep inside of me. The drought was the worst part of grieving, now it seemed I was drowning in my own tears. I clasped the gem in my trembling hands. At least I would have something to take back to his family. Suddenly a strange feeling came across me. I could breath. Amongst all the sadness I found a glimpse of comfort just in the memory of Gilleous. Although I missed him with every bone in my body, deep down I knew that he died protecting me. I had to honour his memory. That’s what he would have wanted after all. I took one final look at the miserable battle scene and mounted my horse. I stroked her blonde mane affectionately, I remembered the day
Gilleous brought her for me. I could barely sit properly the first time I rode her, but over time Gilleous taught me. He was always the best teacher. I was soon the finest rider in our kingdom. Yes, I said to myself aloud. That’s how I would remember Gilleous. As the man who nurtured me, helped me mature and grow as an individual. The greatest man who ever lived.

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You can find some more poetry and writing from Millfield pupils here and here (their Freshly Pressed’ Sense of Place’ poetry) and their QUEST short story openings here. More sagas coming from Millfield pupils next week!

Thank you for your interest.

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