100 days of story (week 10)

Even though The Silent Woman has not been able to speak for most of the story so far, this week things get really silent. There’s a monk who has been patiently and silently guarding The Stone of Silence for 1000 years. And it’s pretty much impossible for our heroine and her friend, Lam, to do anything other than sit in meditation when they arrive at the cave where the Stone is kept.

Somehow, even though events are not that different to a meditation retreat, things manage to stay dramatic. (Okay, it would be hard to find a meditation retreat quite like this, but you catch my drift, right?)

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

Without further ado, I present to you the latest pages of the story. Enjoy!

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The Ancient Ones

There are some images that appear on the page, whether it is a page of writing or of visual art, that keep coming back in different forms over time. For me, one image that keeps returning is that of The Ancient Ones.

Years ago, when I was doing my MA in creative writing at Middlesex University, I was working on a fantasy novel that drew heavily on Russian folklore and mythology. As I was researching the figure of Koschei the Deathless, I came across his twelve sisters and immediately fell in love with them. They were keepers of wisdom, the magical aunts and grandmothers we have always longed for, overflowing with rich delicacies, long-forgotten secrets, and a hearty dose of love. (Note: As I write this post, I can’t seem to find any mention of them on the internet! Did I imagine it all?)

The twelve ladies arrived just as the last of the day’s visitors were leaving. They had palest skin with blushing red cheeks and were all rather tall. A few of them walked with sticks and they shared between them an enormous array of scarves, umbrellas, coats and jackets, handbags and women’s magazines. They wheeled along a red wooden cabinet, painted with green leaves and small yellow flowers. As they removed their coats and entered the house, the smell of pine cones and chocolate cake wafted around them.

A few years later, they reappeared during NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) in the form of the Last Storytellers of Cremone. You can read the full poem here.

… They promise to tell one story
for each round of fabric
that is unwound from their heads.
And as they talk, all that they have carried
falls onto the floor:
painted tea-pots, silver thimbles and spoons,
wedding dresses, candlesticks,
waistcoats and blankets sewn by hand.
We sit on the floor and laugh.
They strip the night from my eye.
They tell the story of the king of the wind.
They voice the jewels of my own wonder …

Then, last year, while I was taking part in Initiation: Into the sacred feminine at EarthHeart UK, I had an image of The Ancient Ones, sitting in a circle beneath a sky of stars.

Since that time, they have continued to appear in my art. I find myself doodling their faces while talking on the phone:

And since I introduced them into my art journal, they keep popping up everywhere!

After completing the Initiation training at EarthHeart, I went on to participate in the Cauldron of Pearls feminine leadership training. I knew The Ancient Ones had to take centre stage on the cover of my notebook!

Their latest appearance is as The Grandmothers in my 100 day project, in which I am telling a story in words and illustrations, one page each day for 100 days.

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

If you’d like to have a go drawing faces in the style of these women, check out my one-minute video – part of the Ask an Artist series over at the Get Messy Art Journal.

What form will they take next? I will have to wait and see. In the meantime, I can only say that my life is richer since they appeared on the scene.

100 days of story (week 9)

I can’t believe we have already reached day 63 in the 100 day project. Time seems to be moving very fast all of a sudden! And, while there is still plenty of road to travel, I am very much aware of the need to move towards an end to the story.

This knowledge is affecting my choices as I move along. For example, this week the Queen of the Sea reveals that she is the Owl Woman’s sister. They have taken different paths in life and so have not seen each other for many years. It’s clear to me that the explanation for this could be a whole other story — one that I won’t be able to do justice to here. I can see a side story coming along in my future!

I also felt it was time to include a more active male character in a story populated by such strong female characters. And so the guard has stepped up to help The Silent Woman in her quest. He is also the first character in the story to receive a name. I didn’t want to keep calling him “the guard”, especially as he’s no longer in that role.

This week I also had a wonderful Messy Conversation with one of my favourite Messy Artists, Misty Granade. We are talking about my creative story, and my approach to the creative process, including this 100 day project. You can watch the replay here.

And now, without further ado, here are the pages from this week’s story:

100 days of story (week 8)

Even though I am already past the halfway point in the 100 day project, I felt that this week has been the true heart of the story. I’m not yet sure how, but the time The Silent Woman has spent with her grandmothers will be of crucial importance in her journey to retrieve her voice.

These pages were written around two consecutive weekends spent at EarthHeart UK with two different circles of wise and beautiful women. During our time together, we touched on the stories of our own grandmothers. My own journey and that of this story became very much intertwined and each inspired the other.

Thank you so much for following along with this story as it unfolds. Your presence around the fire means a lot to me and is both inspiring and encouraging me to keep telling my tale.

And now, without further ado, here are this weeks pages for you to enjoy!

100 days of story (week 5)

For most of this past week I was away at a yoga retreat in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. We were up early in the morning for pranayama followed by a full day of yoga asana practice (plus walking, eating, chatting and napping!)

I was determined to continue my story each day but a little unsure if I could make this happen. I was also unsure I would be able to continue to post each day’s instalment on Instagram, as the internet situation was uncertain. I’m happy to say that both things were possible!

This week our heroine finds herself not only in the depths of the ocean but also in deeper and deeper trouble. If only the North Wind hadn’t taken her voice, she would be able to explain herself! But then she would never have set out on this journey at all and there would be no story to tell.

Without further ado, here is the last week’s story. Thanks so much for following along with me. Enjoy!

Where I’m From

where-im-from-1 where-im-from-2 where-im-from-3 where-im-from-4 where-im-from-5 where-im-from-6 where-im-from-7 where-im-from-8 where-im-from-9 where-im-from-10

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now and it feels like the beginnings of a much bigger piece!

Where was her skin?

Today I returned to an exploration of the selkie folk tale, ‘Sealskin Soulskin’. 

The seal woman is missing a part of herself — her Soulskin — and she can’t thrive without it. But just as she longs for this reconnection, the other seals, too, are waiting for her. She is pulled toward the sea. They are calling her. They are ready for that moment when she dives back into the water.