Thursday, 13 January 2011

Are you failing?

(not too late to start writing small stones - go here)

Are you failing?

"I know that of what I've written so far, most are not actually small stones. Like I said at the beginning, maybe it's enough to write something every day, but I'm not even managing that. Have I failed already then? I don't think so. I am looking more closely and I am thinking more clearly, whether I write it down or not. So, I'm not going to beat myself up but be grateful for the space to reflect on such things. I've been in a pretty negative place lately and that has already changed. I'm feeling grateful for all sorts of things and a joy that has long been absent has reappeared. There are glimpses of hope and so I press on, trying to be more disciplined in my daily writing and reflecting on it's value. Perhaps other things have changed that might account for this change of heart, I don't know, but it seems to me that small stones are building new foundations."

This is from Ghost Writer at Lime Tree Legends

I wonder who else out there might have started with good intentions and tailed off. Or missed a day and given up. 

As Ghost Writer says, it doesn't matter. As writers (as people) the important thing is to begin again. 

And again.

And again.

One small stone, or even ten seconds of looking for one, is better than none. 

Do share your own experiences of perseverance (how to or how not to!) in the comments.

I only have three spaces (from 16) left on my Writing as Spiritual Practice course now (taking place during March) - if you'd like to join the wonderful pioneering participants who've already signed up, please do. If you can't do March, I'm thinking of May and September for future courses so you could put your name down. Email me

This white space is crying out for a poem. How's this for fine observation? And then I'm crying out for a cup of tea. Have lovely days, smallstoners. 

Notes from a Tunisian Journal

This nutmeg stick of a boy in loose trousers!
Little coffee pots in the coals, a mint on the tongue.

The camels stand in all their vague beauty -
at night they fold up like pale accordians.

All the hedges are singing with yellow birds!
A boy runs by with lemons in his hands.

Food's perfume, breath is nourishment.
The stars crumble, salt above eucalyptus fields.

Rita Dove


  1. Thank you for your daily words..your encouragements have helped me persevere and find at least one thing to write about each, who thru mental laziness has never done so.. I still don't feel they're worth sharing with anyone...but I feel good that I'm quieting my mind, observing and writing every day. I appreciate your blog.

  2. Failing? No- not at this time. As a photographer I have been in observation mode since 6th grade. But I have not written, in an observational way, since high school(over 35 years ago). That is a long time ago. My "problem" is I thought my observing brain was only visual. I have discovered it is not. It has taken me a long time to get here- all I can say is let your senses tell you their story. -Thank you--

  3. I don't know whether or not mine fit into the 'small stone' category, or if such a category could exist, but so far I'm still keeping up, which is pretty much a first for me - I never usually manage to keep going with these projects, but this time, well, fingers, toes, crossed.

  4. I think some of what I've been writing are small stones for real, and some are not--and that's fine. The appeal of this project is many layered for me, and partly it's just about writing something as often as I possibly can--mostly it's been every day, but I've missed a couple. I just make up for it with several entries the following day (today will be one of those!). I love that there's a vague sense of accountability to the larger group--that always motivates me to write. It's one of the reasons I find blogging interesting and useful (you know, assuming anyone is reading). But I'm really fine with whatever comes out on a given day, as long as my overarching focus in on re-invigorating a writing practice that's been dormant for the last little while. And like Ghost Writer above, for me, the practice is the life-changing thing. I feel entirely different--much more happy and well--when I'm attending to my writing in any way. (And thanks for the poem above--gorgeous.)

  5. Thanks, Fiona, for allowing all our stones to have a place to gather. I write daily to record One Good Thing - brief, but a joy for me.

  6. Every time I read a Fiona blog post it matches exactly what's been on my mind.


    I've been writing unpolished rocks. One, because what I want to express can't fit within the confines of a stone and two, nothing is ever polished to my liking. I can always find something to tweak.

    It's rather arrogant of me to think that anything I write is perfect as is. I can always make it better. Then again, I can edit something until it no longer exits too. So sometimes it's best to leave it.

  7. Fiona, I'm so pleased I joined in. The public commitment was a bit confronting for me, but as others have mentioned it's a good experience. The word I used to a friend is "wholesome". Thankyou for your encouragement.

  8. Sher - I'm so glad. Keep going!
    Teri - I suppose we're all a bit biased towards seeing... only 1/5th of the story...
    Na - good. I don't know if whether they fit into the category or not matters, or even if there is one...
    Amy - glad you like the poem. I'm a big fan of Rita Dove. Yes, that accountability is an interesting thing...
    Loll - editing is interesting. I think the writing does become 'something else' when we play around with it. I do it because I like the sound of words on my tongue, and the sight of them on the page - can you approach yours in this playful way?
    Sue - hurray. I do like the word wholesome!

  9. I felt like a failure (about my small stones commitment) until I read Ghostwriter's words. Oh, thank you for sharing it and writing this post. Exactly what I needed to read, to continue on, in my own way, without fear of disappointing myself or others because I don't publish every day.

  10. I read the post at Lime Tree Legends, and then I read al of the previous posts and I thought "Huh. Those are exactly what _I_ think "small stones would be; I wonder why she doesn't think so."

    I also wonder why other people have said things like "...having trouble with small poem words...". Who told you it "had to be" a poem?

    "A small stone is a polished moment of paying proper attention." It can be a sentence. It can be a poem. It can be a fragment. It can be a thought. It's a moment in time. As to whether it's polished "enough"? Just remember that, if you polish too much, you end up with dust.

  11. Came across this quote, attributed to Pablo Picasso, which seems appropriate to the themes discussed in the post and thread.

    "I am always doing things I can't do, that's how I get to do them."

    I'm also reminded of Robert Frost's "The only way around is through." and Curtis Mayfield's "Keep on Keeping On"

    all of which is good advice for writing - and life...

  12. Elaine - good!!
    Vicki - wise words...
    Matt - thanks for sharing those - yes, they all fit perfectly with the sentiment.
    Thank you all for reading.

  13. I'm learning a lot with this paying attention exercise, and loving the stones i'm finding while wading in the #aros stream. I appreciate what you had to say Vicki. Helps to take the pressure off to be 'poetic'. 'Write a stone' is harder than it sounds, but i'm managing to keep up, just.

    small observation: hot night, fan and a movie, australia

    lily at @myarspoetica

  14. funny how when we name ourselves - as artist, writer, photographer, I wonder if it is an enabling identity or a restricting force. Perhaps we need to do this to let others know what we do?

    Since my dad died, I have been in a fuzzy uncreative space and doing Fiona and Kaspa'a River of Stones, has shone a light on my writing and non visual practice that I have always seen as something secondary and not worth talking about, because I am not a writer.

    This structure has enabled me to write and really enjoy it, without pressure to be a writer, a poet or anything, just write. I have really valued that, having a committment daily, to myself, to life and to being alive in the moment everyday. Thanks so much to all for your thoughts and Fiona and Kaspa for inviting me to participate. Today I am a writer, tomorrow, I am an artist, the next day i am soemthing else it doesn't matter it all comes from being alive Ann XX