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Archive for the ‘Humanity’ Category


 

King Peter and Millie (from Armenia)

Re-told by Lizzie Gates

Once upon a time . . .

King Peter of Armenia had a beautiful daughter, Millie. When she was born, he wanted to care and guard her so she would know nothing of the world and never love anyone but himself.  For her sole use – with only female servants and a woman teacher – he had a lovely palace built on a lonely island in the middle of a dark forbidding lake.  This palace had no windows looking outwards and only the king had a key to the outer door.  He visited her once a week, for three hours, on Sundays.

 

But Millie grew up.  And, when she was 18, she began to think for herself.  She knew she had learned about life but only from books. And she knew she was a woman.  But, she wondered, what did that make her father? Fear had kept her servants silent. But, pitying her, her woman teacher brought her a book. And Millie realised she was in prison.

 

So, copying the images in the book, she made a young man out of flour, eggs and butter and milk. And, weeping, she prayed to God for a soul to fill the beautiful young man with Life. The image was given a soul and Millie called him Michael. The woman teacher brought him clothes. Apart from Millie – only she knew of his existence. And the two young people fell in love.

 

Then, one Sunday, they slept over long in the morning, and King Peter arrived.  Millie’s father came upon his daughter with a young man sleeping by her side and was enraged.He had been to so much trouble and expense to prevent precisely this.  In a rage, he ordered their executions.

 

As Millie stood on the block, about to die, she said:  “I made the young man standing beside me – he has no family and no ties. I made him by myself. And it was my wish – to have loved and been loved. If you kill me, father, I have no regrets.”

 

King Peter on the other hand would lose everything he valued. Furthermore he could find no evidence that the young man was human. Relieved, he relented because he truly loved his daughter. In reparation, he gave the young couple a new home and his blessing.  And they all lived happily ever after.

 Writing Interventions

  1. Which character do you favour/empathise with? Why? Write the story from this person’s point of view?
  2. Which character do you like least? Why? Write the story from this person’s point of view.
  3. Do you like the ending? If not, why? Write your own ending.

 

 

Group Discussion (In pairs and then full group)

  1. Whose visions are represented here?
  2. Where is the conflict?
  3. Who changes their vision? Why?
  4. Whose vision is most powerful? Why? Could this be changed?
  5. What are the problems in this story which reflect/resonate with issues your clients face?
  6. What solutions could you offer in your professional practice?
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Hello, Everyone!

 

Using creative writing to improve life quality for the long-term ill and distressed – and that of their family, friends and professional advisers – is a subject dear to my heart. And since I went to an Arts and Dementia Conference in Liverpool at the beginning of November, I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

 

As organisers Collective Encounters  explained, the conference aimed ‘to explore the possibilities in the use of arts in dementia care, celebrate excellence in the artistic work created by artists working with people with dementia and their carers, and look at the potential impact of Live and Learn [a new project] will have on the health and social care and creative sectors locally.’

 

It did and I found it difficult to process so many stunning insights all at once. But one story particularly impressed. David Clegg – a sculptor by profession – had volunteered to visit an old lady with dementia. When, after fifteen minutes, she found her front door, she was stark naked apart from ski-boots and oven gloves. She told him later, she was dressed this way because someone had stolen her clothes and replaced them with the clothes of an old woman. A stunning insight – indeed.

 

David now spends his time, when not sculpting, helping people with dementia record their stories and make sense of their lives. Which is what we all – as humans – want to do. And what creative writing is all about.

 

So, I have two pieces of news for you. Firstly, I now offer e-courses in Therapeutic Creative Writing – fiction, life-writing and journaling – for anyone dealing professionally or personally with relationship issues and emotional health problems. These e-courses each contain six units full of advice and writing games to explore the unit topic. Each unit may be completed at your own pace and in your own time with 24/7 support and – when appropriate – professional critique.

 

Secondly, November is packed with Lonely Furrow Company’s Out of the Box Workshops. These are designed to be useful for those – including writers – who deal with relationships and communication issues professionally. Group interaction is a crucial aspect of this form of communication training and the workshops provide a basis for further work.

 

November Workshops:

 

All will take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 9JF. (Tel: 0151 342 3877)

 

Communication Series

November 23rd 2011 (1pm-3.30pm) ‘Body Language – the silent story’  (£25)

November 30th 2011 (1pm-3.30pm)  ‘Story-telling – the techniques’ (£25)

 

Creative Writing Technique Series

November 26th 2011 (10am – 12.30pm) ‘Memorable Characters – how to write them.’ (£20)

 

To find out more or book your place, contact me initially via Elizabeth@lonelyfurrowcompany.com or telephone 0151 342 3877.

 

And, for a no-charge, no-obligation chat about any Lonely Furrow Company services, contact me initially via the Lonely Furrow Company brochure website www.lonelyfurrowcompany.com .

 

 

I hope you find the concept of Arts in Health as inspirational as I do. If you’d like to know more about this kind of work, please also see www.lapidus.org.uk. Lapidus is a professional organization which promotes the use of creative words for health and well-being, has established an ethical code for this work and maintains a directory of creative writing practitioners (of which I am one).

 

With very best wishes

Lizzie

 

 

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Reading and writing are concerned with people. The reason why I have been drawn to literature all my life is because I hoped – through story – to find out about people, to understand them better, to make sense of them where at times there seemed no sense. Sometimes, I have wondered how this works – this quest to connect to humanity. And, it seems to me, it works through the senses. And through the imagination.

As a writer, through sense impressions, you can build up a world for the reader which he can recognise. Sense impressions – visual, aural, tangible, olfactory, gustatory – link the writer and the reader through their common humanity. And, when this linking happens, as a reader, you know you are not alone, not a freak. You know you have something in common. You then take it further. You want to gain the insights which will help you make sense of your life. You want to be prompted to ask the questions ”What if . . . ?’ or ‘Where next?’   And, as a consequence, ‘What if . . .?’ and ‘Where next . . . ?’ are two of the most important questions a fiction writer can have in his or her tool kit.

The process has another important dimension. When you are the writer and the audience – as when journaling – the whole experience moves up a gear. You learn to understand yourself better, to make sense of your own life. You learn what is important to you and what your chief anxieties are. And, in the ‘safe place’ of solitude, you can learn how to express these – first to yourself and then to the world at large.

Here’s a writing game to engage you with your senses!

Settle yourself down where-ever you like to write, relax into your writing state and take up your pen. Complete the following:

On my way to my favourite chair, my desk, my bed:

  • I saw
  •  I heard
  •  I tasted
  •  I touched
  •  I thought
  •  I felt
Now, choose the three complete thoughts that seem to you to have the most potential for you to explore in fiction. Think of a character, give him or her a name, and your three sensations. Write a story of no more than 500 words using this material. Consider what you’ve created. Do you like it? Could you develop it further?
Through this game, you will demonstrate to yourself that you possess the imagination essential to linking writer and reader  in quantities.

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