Thursday, 28 April 2011

A special announcement for our wedding

We’re getting married on Saturday the 18th of June, (yay!) and we’d love you to give us a special wedding gift by writing us a small stone on our wedding day.

Kaspa has made us a brand new site at Wedding Small Stones, which has all the instructions you'll need if you're able to take part. We hope you do : ) In brief:

 1) Help us spread the word by posting information about the project on your blog on Monday the 1st of June – our ‘Small Stone Blogsplash’. This is to give people a chance to hear about our project before our wedding day.

2) On the 18th of June, whilst we’re putting on our nice clothes and saying our vows and eating cake, pay attention to one thing around you, write it down, and send us your small stone here.

We hope to come back from our honeymoon to an inbox full of your small stones. It would be the perfect wedding gift. We’ll put them all up on the wedding site – with your name and blog if you’d like us to include them.

We’d just love it if the whole world paid proper attention to one thing on our wedding day. Make us happy and share our day with us! 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Making ripples

Pond Life
(Pond Life by Fujoshi)

When you throw stones into a pond the ripples go all the way to the edge. If you put a drop of ink into a clear tank of water and wait, the clear water will colour. We're hoping 1000 of you will throw small stones into our River during July. In the meantime ripples from the January challenge are still travelling across the web.

On Friday Fiona and I recorded a YouTube video of the two of us talking about The River of Stones. Here it is:

On 22nd April, Kirsten Cliff  reposted our video at Swimming In Lines Of Haiku, as an Easter gift to her readers.

On 24nd April, Amber wrote about small stones on her blog Soul living resources:
Small stone moments can occur at any time. They have a brightness and vividness that makes them stand out from ordinary moments. I have a sense that the more I pay attention to life and the world around me, the more I will notice small stone moments occuring.

 Today, Margo Roby has a great interview with us on her weblog WordGathering:

How do you see, or define small stones?
Fiona: The most important thing about a small stone isn’t how it looks or sounds but how it you find it. The idea is to pay more attention – whether you’re in your living room or climbing a mountain – and notice things that you wouldn’t otherwise notice. Notice one thing properly, and write it down. That’s it.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Zen and the Art of Writing

"Just write something." Much easier to say, than to do.  When I run drama workshops I know that the most paraylising instruction I can give to someone is "Just go and perform something". A blank page, or canvas, or an empty stage, can freeze our creativity.

If we have this experience more than once, we can start to believe that we simply don't have any creative powers, or that any powers we did have dried up.

In the theatre it's much more empowering for an actor when I give them a more specific instruction. When their creativity is given limits, it is much more able to produce work. "Perform something, but don't move outside of this small square." Or, "Perform something using these few words." Then magic can happen.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig tells a story about one his writing students. She doesn't believe she can write; faced with a blank page she is frozen. Pirsig instructs her to go into the main street, and to look at the bank there. He tells he to look at a specific brick in the bank's wall, he tells her how many rows in this brick is, and instructs her to write about this brick.

She brings pages of writing into the next class. She had begun writing about this one brick, and it had led her to explore the history of brick-making in the town, and how the demise of the industry had affected the whole society. Starting from this one brick, she had become fired up (excuse the pun) and created something interesting and wonderful.

Someone else starting from the same brick would have written something completely different. Any object, or writing prompt, is like a gateway into our own personal imagination. Wherever we start from, something that is important to us will appear on the page.

This is why the various writing prompts here are so good, they give us a seed and unlock the door to our creative powers. With the same prompt each of us produces something different.

There are prompts all around us in the world as well; the shout of the scrap-man, "Any old iron", opens one worldthe Sylvia Edwards print of Noah's ark is a gateway into another, and I have talked before about just how much there is through the office window.

Pick one thing, and start writing.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Praising Spring

This is one of Lynda Bruce's beautiful paintings - it's called 'Song for Spring'. Lynda has just joined our community (join us!) and we're hoping to speak with her at some point for our new series of interviews with creative types. The first one is with illustrator Jackie Morris, and if you haven't seen her paintings of leopards & bears you should go see now. 

I don't feel very springlike this morning - I woke up feeling full of mud and I'm still ankle-deep. A spring cold is probably brewing in me. 

Even more reason to pay attention to everything I can. 

I've been enjoying this poem by Linda Gregg over the weekend. Two Lindas/Lyndas, and two homages to spring. 

Don't forget to pay attention to the passing of the seasons, to the weather, to the cat curled up on the chair. To every degree of flourishing. Write it down.


Praising Spring

The day is taken by each thing and grows complete.
I go out and come in and go out again,
confused by a beauty that knows nothing of delay,
rushing like fire. All things move faster
than time and make a stillness thereby. My mind
leans back and smiles, having nothing to say.
Even at night I go out with a light and look
at the growing. I kneel and look at one thing
at a time. A white spider on a peony bud.
I have nothing to give, and make a poor servant,
but I can praise the spring. Praise this wildness
that does not heed the hour. The doe that does not
stop at dark but continues to grow all night long.
The beauty in every degree of flourishing. Violets
lift to the rain and the brook gets louder than ever.
The old German farmer is asleep and the flowers go on
opening. There are stars. Mint grows high. Leaves
bend in the sunlight as the rain continues to fall.

- Linda Gregg

Monday, 11 April 2011

Our wedding, and wanting 1000 blogs (and a winner)

We're getting married on the 18th of June : )

If you're going to join the river, we'd like you to keep the 17th of June free for a special event which we'll tell you more about nearer the time. It will be the perfect wedding present for us...

It's going to be a part of our master plan to get (at least) 1000 bloggers involved in the river of stones challenge this July. We have 80 already - I've just added a nifty little widget on the right hand side to show us our progress. 

Also, I just picked a name out of the hat to win a lovely hardback of the 'pay attention' book - congratulations to Milagros! Everyone else who entered will have to add it to their Christmas lists...

It was a gorgeous sunny weekend here. I hope you have lovely weeks!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Swinging below a star

Look for a lovely thing. This is Lolly's new blog for her small stones... a lovely thing in itself. A few people are creating separate blogs for their small stones, ready for our July challenge or to start now if they can't wait. You can see all the small-stone-only blogs at The River, and the other participants in the blogroll here on the right. 

Of course, small stones are ugly and annoying and heartbreaking as well as gorgeous and sparkly and marvellous, but I'm sure some of you will write some others to balance Lolly's out. 

There have been a few little changes over at the Writing Our Way Home forum, and now our blogs are at the top. If you scroll down far enough, you might even find a hiding Issa poem.... do come and say hi, and think about starting a group if you have an idea of a writing project. The April Writing as Spiritual Practice e-course is now underway - so there's an early bird discount of £15/$20 to join the May one if you sign up before the 17th of April. 

And to borrow Lolly's Sara Teasdale quote:

"Stars over snow, And in the west a planet. Swinging below a star-- Look for a lovely thing and you will find it, It is not far-- It never will be far."
--Sara Teasdale

Friday, 1 April 2011

20% Sale on and a lovely post from Lisa

Small stones are everywhere; in spring meadows and cultivated fields and in the brambles where hedge-sparrows nest, in the cracks between the pavement and in the sky. You just have to open your senses. in the United Sates and the UK (maybe elsewhere, check their website) are having a 20% sale this weekend. Here are the links to pay attention: a river of stones again, the beautiful book we created in response to all the wonderful writing we saw during the January river:  the paperback, the hardback gift edition, and the ebook (pdf).

Lisa, one of the contributers, has written this lovely post on her blog Diary of a Sqaure Toothed Girl about receiving her copy. She finishes her post by saying: 
Paying attention is, sometimes, just plain hard.
But I'll tell you, stone by stone, there is is joy to be found simply in trying.
Lisa is right, sometimes it is hard. But there is a great joy in it. Visit The River, the space for our July challenge, and see what small stones people are noticing and writing already. Let us know if you have a small stone blog you'd like adding.