Thursday, 15 September 2011

A new home for our small stone posts

To keep things simple, we will be blogging about small stones at our main site, Writing Our Way Home, from this day forth.

Do hop over there to find out more about the January '12 river, small stones, and to read about our future projects. You can also snag this delicious badge for your blog. Go see!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Gorgeous watercolours & family blogging

I wanted to share these watercolours with you, which Claire Marriott painted on a recent trip to Aquitaine. Each deliberately naïve painting has a small stone woven in between the colours. You can see the rest of Claire's lovely watercolours here. Has anyone else combined their small stones with images?

And I also wanted to share a special river-of-stones blog with you, from our youngest river participant (as far as I know!) Stuart at Pebble Finder. Writing small stones is a family affair, as his mum Josephine (Pebbleorium) and his sister Willow (Searching for Secret Passageways) also have beautiful blogs. I'll leave you with a few of Stuart's small stones - enjoy! And keep writing...


Finishing a series
I shut the book and wonder.
"What now?"


Two days ago.
On a road trip.
We stop at a restroom.
I wash my hands in the sink.
A frog pokes his head out of the overflow drain.


Sunset gives the clouds a pink outline.
Shapes appear wherever you look.
This one has the head of a fish and the body of a bird.
Wait... it doesn't have any legs.


A whole large bowl of watermelon
I don't feel too good any more.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

We are all in this together

Fiona writes: I'm avoiding writing my novel. I put 'fiona robyn' into Google just now (I'm an ego-googlaholic). I found this!

A wonderful piece by Lara about how we are all swimming in the River of Life, and how writing small stones is another way of remembering this.

Thank you, Lara, for encouraging us to bless someone today.

"It can be a huge favor or a tiny piece of chocolate. It can be a gift, a glance, a smile, a ride."

Just like the home-grown runner beans my friend Anna gave us yesterday, and which I shall be eating for my dinner - cooked until tender, and dripping with butter.

Be kind to each other out there.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The end, or the beginning?

The July river of stones finishes tomorrow.

You might have taken part this time, and you might not have. You might have religiously written a small stone every day, or had a few false starts, or written three and then forgotten about it completely.

It doesn't matter.

If you let them, small stones will help you to connect with the world one teensy moment at a time. They will work on you at their own pace.

Every time you pause to notice the exact texture of an egg, or the glittering thread of drool hanging from your happy cat's chin (yuk!), and wonder how you'd write it down, can be counted as a tiny triumph.

Even if you've had ONE of these moments this month, one that you wouldn't have otherwise experienced, then we'll be very happy.

We're always pleasd to hear from people - do let us know by email (Fiona or Kaspa) or in the comments section how you found the experience.

If you'd like to take your writing practice to another level, you could join one of our month-long self-study ecourses starting on Monday - Eastern Therapeutic Writing with Kaspa (koans, Japanese poetry and Morita therapy) or Writing Ourselves Alive with Fiona (curiosity, honesty, compassion & passion).

If you don't get a jiggle on quickly enough they'll repeat later in the year - here's the rest. 

We won't be posting here again for a while, until we've cooked up the next project for our river. We would like it very much if you'd follow us over to the Writing Our Way Home blog, and you could also try Fiona's weekly inspirational newsletter, or come and say hi at our community

Thank you for reading our blog, and for being a very important drop in the river.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Can we ever really 'see clearly'? (a question, not an answer)

(photo by MontyPython)

A post from the archive by Kaspa:
By way of the grape vine I heard someone asking "Does knowing we're going to write about it take away from really seeing what's there, in the moment?".

I think that's a really interesting question, but it points to a deeper question for me "Can we ever really see what's there?" 

Years ago I used to sit a lot of zazen. Zazen is the meditation of Zen Buddhism, where one just sits. When a thought comes up, you let it go. When another thought come up, you let that go too.  I imagined that if I let everything go I would reach a place of clarity. A place where I could simply be in the world and engage with the world without my own thoughts and prejudices getting in the way.

I think that we probably can wipe the grosser stains of our wind-shields, and see through the glass into the world more clearly. But I'm no longer convinced we can get rid of the glass 

In fact I literally have to look through glass, through a pair of glasses, to see the world clearly. I think this is where the edge is for me. Along with the habits of seeing that I talked about in my last post (Walk in Someone Else's Shoes) we each have a physical body and how we receive the world is mediated by our senses and then interpreted by our brains to give our conscious mind an experience that makes sense.

So we have a uniquely human  experience of each moment, by virtue of our human bodies. And I believe we have a uniquely personal experience of each moment by virtue of our individual histories. Is it possible to let go of those stories, those traumas and celebrations, entirely? 

Today I'm leaning towards answering 'No'. But what we can do is recognise all those parts of ourselves and treat them with more care, and appreciate them as the compost from which our poetry can be fed.

None of this answers the original question of course.  This post is already quite long, so perhaps that first question deserves its own post - either that or you can argue it out in the comments below....

"Does knowing we're going to write about it take away from really seeing what's there, in the moment?"

(Have a look at what people thought last time here and let us know what you think!)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Writing isn't always a piece of cake

Any excuse to post a picture of a piece of cake....

But it's true. Writing small stones, or anything, can be difficult. 

It certainly is for me. Some days, I'd rather do anything than sit down at my computer and begin the first sentence.

Why is this? I think a lot of the reason is that when we write, we are trying to say what's true for us. We are putting something out there that people can look at, and have opinions about. We are exposing our vulnerable underbellies, just like our cat Fatty who lies with his paws in the air and dares you to touch him...

This is also why writing is important. 

Writing gives us an opportunity to share these vulnerable parts. It gives us an opportunity to find our truth, whatever that might be.

So keep writing small stones. Keep working on your novel. Keep writing in your journal. Get support. Carry on. 

We all find it difficult. You're in good company.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Can we look anew?

There is a part of everything which is unexplored, because we are accustomed to using our eyes only in association with the memory of of what people before us have thought we were looking at.
Flaubert, quoted in preface to Pierre and Jean, in Maupassant's 'The Novel'
A post from the archive by Kaspa:
James Wood quotes Flaubert in How Fiction Works. Wood attributes the rise of the modern novel to Flaubert. But what interested me was the observation above, in a section where Wood is talking about the satisfaction of specific detail. I'll come back to that in another post.

Our minds are the repositories of stories. We tell stories about people we know, we imagine we know their lives, outer and inner. We tell stories about the places we live in, and about the jobs we do. The most powerful of these stories has to do with how we feel about ourself, "...this is the sort of person I am". This most powerful of stories tends to be at the heart of all the stories we tell.

Each time we encounter something in the world, a loved one, the view from a mountain top, a favourite book in a library, we receive it through the eyes of these stories. I am the person who loves you, we have this history together... and so on.

Flaubert's point is that we not only encounter the world through these personal stories, but that we encounter the world through the eyes and memories of others. We inherit stories, from our peers, from our parents and increasingly from the media.

When we see the Union Jack flying, we have a sense of history, of an Empire perhaps and whatever feelings that might bring up, pride or shame. We are full of stories. Who amongst us would only see a few red and blue triangles, printed onto a white rectangle of fabric?

There is a part of each thing which is hidden from us. We obscure with stories, as much as we enlighten with them.

The act of really paying attention is not to ignore these stories, but to see the transparency of them, to see them but to look beyond to the mystery too.

What mysteries will you uncover today?