Sunday 30 January 2011

Post your last small stone here!

We're nearly there!

Tomorrow's small stone, on Monday the 31st of January, will be the last of the challenge. 

Share it with us by posting it as a comment on this blog. Let's see how many we can gather. 

I do hope some of you might carry on past the end of January. We're working on a new page to gather all your small stones together - you'll need to post your small stones to a separate blog (or have a separate RSS feed) to be eligible. 

We'll let you know how to submit your favourite ten small stones for possible inclusion in the forthcoming 'river of stones' soon. 

Many small-stoners are gathered at our new Writing Our Way Home community forum - do pop along and say hello. 

Over to you. Thank you so much for your company during January. Me and Kaspa have had a truly WONDERFUL time reading all the stones and hearing about your experiences. Roll on July ; )

Thursday 27 January 2011

A new offering

I've posted about the crystallisation of my new offering to the world at the newly named blog for Writing Our Way Home. I hope you like how Kaspa made that bird perch on the end of my squiggle ; ) 

You've already done lots of 'spreading the news' for us, so I won't ask you to do any more, but I do hope we might see you at our new forum at some point - the ideal place to post small stones, enter into conversation, eat virtual cake. 

It's good to hear that people are already planning to sign up for our July write-a-small-stone-every-day challenge. But January isn't quite over yet... 

We're getting excited about the marvellous morsels we're expecting once we open submissions to the 'river of stones' book. In the meantime you can always submit to my blogzine, a handful of stones.

I hope you're seeing more clearly, wherever you are, and whatever life is throwing at you. 

Tuesday 25 January 2011

BRAND new Writing Our Way Home forum (all singing all dancing)


We have a community forum!

It's called Writing Our Way Home, and it's for anyone who's interested in writing as a way of feeling more at home with ourselves and in the world.

It's about an hour old, and we already have some sterling inaugural members. I'd LOVE it if you become one too - whether you write small stones or in a journal, whether you belong to a spiritual tradition or are spiritually ambivalent, whether you are web-savvy or not. Just click on the link and say hello.

There's also a new website to go with the new brand, designed BEAUTIFULLY by lovely Kaspa.

What do you think?

Can't wait to see you there.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Day 23 already, hellebores and manifestos

(start here if you're new)

Yesterday I visited Stroud with two friends. Caroline bought a tangle of golden wild mushrooms from a man who told us where the best cafe in the town was. In the best cafe in town we ate fresh chewy sourdough and shared a table with the wife of the owner, who told us where the farmer's market was. In the farmer's market we met a potter who'd emigrated from New Zealand many years ago and had a soft kind face. She was selling these luminous hellebores. I wish I'd bought them. 

small stones abounded. 

You are writing to tell us that this project is helping you to keep your senses open, and become more intimate with the world. It is helping you find moments of peace. Writing small stones is leading you gently back into writing after some time away, and helping your confidence. Your usual and your small stone blogs are merging into each other. As I've said before (but it needs re-saying) this makes us very happy.

Look at the blogroll on the right. The small stones keep coming.

I'm still working on my Writing as Spiritual Practice e-course, writing about the links between writing and faith, perseverance, clear-seeing and praise. I'm loving it. (It's full for March so let me know if you'd like to go on the 'interested' list for May or Sep.) When I've finished that, I'll be re-designing my sites and writing a 'manifesto' (inspired by the very wonderful Chris Guillebeau). Kaspa & I will be asking for submissions for the river of stones book in mid-Feb. And we're hoping some of you might join us in a July challenge - to write a small stone every day in July - which will give us a chance to pick up some sunny stones. All that, and more. The river is flowing.

Keep letting us know how you're getting on. It's a gift to know that many of you are out there in the world, pen in hand. 

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Really seeing the other leads to freedom

This week my teacher Dharamvidya David Brazier has been in Israel leading some workshops on psychology. In one of them he talked about how really seeing the other can set you free.

What he describes is also the philosophy that underpins this whole project, and I owe a great debt to him, and others, for teaching me.
"...the focus is upon discerning the truth of the other and achieving spiritual maturity. One achieves liberation for oneself by releasing others from the attachment generated by one's own deluded and stereotypical perception of them. The self-construct is the mirror image of these false views of others. To see the truth of the other is to release them and thereby, incidentally, to release oneself from one's self-construct." Love and Its Disappointment blog
As we more clearly see the other, the other moves away from being what, on some level, we want it to be, and becomes more real. In this way we release the other and give it freedom to exist - and we release ourselves too. As we take away the prop to our 'small self' and grant it existence, we become liberated.

The truth shall set you free.
(John 8:32, The Bible)

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Becoming more humble

(go here if you're new here)

We have a brand spanking new page for a river of stones on Facebook - do come along and bring all your friends. There are still plenty of biscuits left. (Also known as cookies). 

I wrote about doing prostrations on my Planting Words blog today. What do you think about the links between ego and writing small stones? Is there a place for becoming more humble? Are there any disadvantages? I'd be very interested to read your thoughts as always. 

Right - better get on with writing my small stone for yesterday ; )

Sunday 16 January 2011

The physical world pours in

(if you haven't started writing small stones yet, there's plenty of time... all the time in the world)

Thanks to Jacqueline for her small stone photo of Sumi's paws. There are some very fine photos and small stones on Olivia's blog too. And many many many many many many finely observed small stones being scattered by you, fine reader, and everyone else in the river, all across the world.

Our very own in-the-river Claire is currently at third place for the Shorty Awards in the Poetry category - if you'd like to vote for her go here, or Tweet something like this: "I nominate @ for a Shorty Award in because... she's in the river! "

I found a lovely essay by Linda Gregg this week (The Art of Finding), whilst doing research for my 'Writing as Spiritual Practice' course (only one space left for March, but I'm hoping to run it again in May and September so email me if you'd like to go down on the reserve list or the might-be-interested-list.) 

I wanted to share this paragraph in full as it fits so perfectly with what we're trying to do. 

Do share your experiences of writing small stones in the comments section, and with each other. Do visit each other's blogs. Do remember that this exercise is to help us enjoy the world - and to help us get right up close to it, so close we can see the hairs on its nose. 

Keep up the sterling work!

"I am astonished in my teaching to find how many poets are nearly blind to the physical world. They have ideas, memories, and feelings, but when they write their poems they often see them as similes. To break this habit, I have my students keep a journal in which they must write, very briefly, six things they have seen each day—not beautiful or remarkable things, just things. This seemingly simple task usually is hard for them. 

At the beginning, they typically "see" things in one of three ways: artistically, deliberately, or not at all. Those who see artistically instantly decorate their descriptions, turning them into something poetic: the winter trees immediately become "old men with snow on their shoulders," or the lake looks like a "giant eye." The ones who see deliberately go on and on describing a brass lamp by the bed with painful exactness. And the ones who see only what is forced on their attention: the grandmother in a bikini riding on a skateboard, or a bloody car wreck. But with practice, they begin to see carelessly and learn a kind of active passivity until after a month nearly all of them have learned to be available to seeing—and the physical world pours in. 

Their journals fill up with lovely things like, "the mirror with nothing reflected in it." This way of seeing is important, even vital to the poet, since it is crucial that a poet see when she or he is not looking—just as she must write when she is not writing. To write just because the poet wants to write is natural, but to learn to see is a blessing. The art of finding in poetry is the art of carrying the sacred to the world, the invisible to the human."

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

Wednesday 12 January 2011

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

(photo by MontyPython)

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?"

Tuesday 11 January 2011

On not having the foggiest idea

(it's not too late to start writing small stones - join us)

A couple of things to let you know about. I'm giving away a copy of The Productive Writer by the very marvellous Sage Cohen on my blog later today - just leave a comment if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning this amazing book. I interviewed her a few days ago, here.

And I'm going to be running an e-course on Writing as Spiritual Practice during March - if you're interested in the links between writing and clear-seeing, perseverance, praise and faith then read more here. It'd be lovely to have you accompany me on the journey we'll be taking.


I was trawling back through my blog Planting Words today and I found this piece on not having the foggiest. I think it is helpful for us to try and find that place of not knowing in order to write small stones - Suzuki Shunryu's beginner's mind. But not knowing (Keats' negative capability) can be an alien and discomforting place to rest. How good are you at not knowing? How often does certainty rush in (prematurely) to fill the gaps?


Yesterday afternoon I decided to make a path between my vegetable patch beds by putting down weed suppressing membrane and covering it with bark chip.
I didn't have the foggiest idea what I was doing. I didn't know if I was strong enough to get the five bags of bark chip into my car. I didn't know how to attach the membrane to the soil. I didn't know if the whole project was a waste of time - if my path would be a complete failure.

It reminded me of starting my first novel, Thaw. I didn't know anything about writing fiction. I hadn't read any how-to books or taken any classes. I didn't know anyone writing novels. I'd read prodigiously all my life and written poetry for years, but had never put more than a few hundred words together, never mind eighty thousand.

The only way to approach it without scaring myself half to death was by calling it an experiment. I decided to write 1000 words a day and just see where I got to. This is how I felt about my vegetable patch project yesterday and, now I come to think of it, about most of my life.

The path is finished - it looks a little raggedy, but it's functional. I'm rather proud of it. I'm currently working on my fourth novel, and I still don't have the foggiest idea about what I'm doing or how it will turn out. Isn't it fun?!

Monday 10 January 2011

Walk in someone else's shoes.

(photo by jef safi)

The wisdom of the internet suggests that walking a mile in someone else's shoes was a metaphor first expressed in the Muslim tradition. (Thank you Yahoo! answers). Harper Lee uses it in To Kill a Mockingbird. Since then it's become common wisdom but how many of us really have a go at imagining what someone else's life is like?

We notice what supports 'the sort of person I am'
Usually what we see or hear is what appeals to some side of our personality, either that or something that we definitely don't like. We miss so many things that lack energy for us, and other people miss things that have energy for us. (The dirty dishes, the pile of the sunlight catches our favourite ornament.)

We've been inviting you to really pay attention to the world. To notice one moment each day and write about it. I'm sure that I could place a few of you in the same room and you would each notice and write something different.

Imagine what someone else would see.
A couple of years ago, on a training course I was on I was asked to write down what I noticed in a room I was in. I was then invited to imagine myself into the character of my mother, to walk into the same room and write down what she noticed. It was like being in a different room.  

Try it now - close your eyes and imagine yourself into the character of someone you know well. Open your eyes again and see what looks different....

Stepping out of yourself can shake up how we see the world, and let in things we might not usually have seen. 

When you notice your small stone today why not have a look and see what might be in that place that catches someone else's eye?  You could choose a real person, like me looking around the room with my mother's eyes, or you could choose a favourite character from a novel... what does Atticus Finch see?

Let me know how you get on. 


Sunday 9 January 2011

The river is bursting its banks...

If you're new here, find out about small stones (above) and then get involved.

This river shows no signs of abating.

I've just re-written the 'About' and 'Get involved' sections to include our January challenge as one element of the river.

We might challenge you to a-stone-a-day during July as well as January next year. We're making a river of stones book in the Spring. We hope people will continue using the #aros hash-tag on Twitter. I'm in the middle of writing an online course on 'Writing as Spiritual Practice' which will run for the first time during March. And we'd LOVE it if people continued writing small stones in their notebooks and online.

And we've got a proper mailing list now, you can sign up here.

Keep letting us know how you're getting on with the practice. Enjoy.

(Thanks to Kaspa for the river photo!)


"I have been writing from quite a young age, and the writing has always been something of its own, in a way, it was never something I did to say anything, to voice an opinion, but something that was as good as a way of existing in the world, almost a way to make yourself exist in the world, at least exist there in a good way, through what you wrote, which then lived there, so naturally, in its own existence. For when I write something I feel is well written, something new has come into the world, something that wasn't there before, I have, as it were, created existence, and this, the joy of writing people and stories, yes, whole universes no one knew about, not even I, before I had written them, surprises me, and gives me joy. No one knew about this, not before I wrote it. And where does it come from? I've no idea, because it is new to me as well. I probably hadn't thought about it before. Writing, good writing, will therefore always be a place where something unknown, something which didn't exist before, is given existence. And that, writing as a state where something, yes in a sense even a whole new universe, is created and given a kind of existence for the first time, is perhaps what I enjoy most about writing. A whole new universe comes into being every time you write well. Because all good texts, yes poems too, are in a certain sense a new universe, which did not exist before, but which is created in good writing."
- Jon Fosse

from The Gnosis of Writing via the very wonderful whiskey river

Thursday 6 January 2011

It's NEVER too late to join us in the river

(Read the rest of this post then go here if you're new!)

Well, I'm still rather in love with the stones at the odd inkwell, all using text found in an 1800 children's school reader. I'm not quite sure what a reader is though - somebody help the Brit out...

A handful of people are still joining the river every day, as the ripples spread outwards (thanks to you already-in-the-river folks). A lot of them have been saying to me 'we'd love to join if it's ok with you, it's late?  

As I said on Twitter this morning, late schmate. 

I'm still very happy to add you to our blogroll. And anyone who writes a small stone before mid-February will be free to submit it to our 'river of stones' book (which we're very excited about). Write in your notebook, write online, we don't care. Just write. (And email me if you want to receive my occasional updates.)

Johannes suggested today that we have a river in different seasons. We're thinking about something in July... something different... so the river won't be stopping at the end of January. I don't think we could stop it if we wanted to.

I do hope you're enjoying the observing and the writing. Do let us know how you're getting on - what are the best bits? The worst bits? Which are your favourite stones? Feel free to re-post them here or in our Facebook group or on your fridge or on your mum's fridge.

Happy weekend! I'll leave you with one of my favourite creativity poems...



for E.T.

“Write something every day, she said”,
“even if it’s only a line,
it will protect you”.

How should this be?
Poetry opens no cell,
heals no hurt body,

brings back no lover,
altogether, poetry is
powerless as grass.

How then should it defend us?
Only by strengthening
our fierce and obstinate centres.

Elaine Feinstein
Elaine Feinstein

Being human (but is it any good????)

(It's certainly not too late to join us... lots of January left! start here)

Thanks to Douglas for today's photo - have a look at his blog The Net Mender for more photos and small stones.

I don't know about you, but I'm human. 

This means that, for me, writing is rarely as straightforward as enjoying the process of paying attention. 

Is anyone reading me? How many hits did we get today? Has anyone commented? Is it any good? Is it any good? Is it any good????? 

Most of us writers write because we want to be read (you notebooking small stoners can feel very smug at this point). We have something to say, and we want people to hear it. There are a mix of motivations for this - I truly hope that my writing helps people in some way - but there are always ego-driven motivations somewhere in the mix. 

How do we handle these aspects of the writing life?

I think it is helpful to feel OK about having these thoughts and feeling these feelings. Most of us do. Maybe if you're brave enough you can admit to them in the comments section. I guarantee you're not alone. 

I also think it's helpful to notice these ego-driven thoughts when they arise. Ah, there's my crushing self-doubt again. Oh, hello old friend, 'how many hits have I got'. 

Finally, maybe it's also OK to REALLY enjoy any positive feedback we do get from others. Take it in. Bask. Feed on it. 

And to encourage ourselves too. 

Writing things down can be a perilous task. We are exposing something of ourselves for everyone to see. Sometimes people will like our writing, and sometimes they won't. Sometimes they'll be kind, and sometimes they won't. We need to learn to nurture ourselves through the ups and downs. 

Here's to being human, with all our frailties and arrogance and fear and mistakes and joy and beauty and wonder and love. 

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Noticing with all your senses

(If you're new - you can still join! click here)

I've been enjoying lots of your stones and I've noticed that the first thing I do is picture them in my minds eye. For me the sight is the most predominate sense. I have to make an effort of will to imagine the sound of birds, or rain or cars drifting by.

When I write I also think I have a tendency to hone in on the visual aspect first. Noticing this I want to encourage all of us to notice with all of our senses, and to try and capture something we might not usually capture in our stones.

You could try listening for your small stone today, or feeling its texture with your fingers, or noticing its smell drifting before you.

In 'Had I not been awake' Seamus Heany's first poem in Human Chain he writes about...

...A wind that rose and whirled until the roof
Pattered with quick leaves off the sycamore

and I can hear it.

Tuesday 4 January 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'
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?

Monday 3 January 2011

How to catch small stones

(if you're new here it's not too late to join us... read more here)

I'm a teensy bit frazzled. There have been lots of lovely people joining us and I've been adding them to the blogroll and dealing with little technical hitches all day. I'm very pleased to be so busy. If you've emailed or left a message here we'll get to you as soon as we can (email is easier if you can...)

This lovely photo was taken in Wells-next-to-the-sea Debs, who is taking one every day as her small stone. Thanks Debs.

I was going to share a few small stones with you this morning, but there are so many wonderful ones and I don't want to play favourites... you'll have to get out there and find your favourites for yourself (use the blogroll on the right or the River on the top left). Do leave supportive comments for each other. We're all in this together.

And here's an extract of something I wrote a while ago about how to write small stones - hope it's helpful. Keep observing!


Where will I find small stones? 
Small stones are everywhere, all of the time.  All you have to do is pause and let them appear.  You’ll know when you see one, because it will set off a small burst of feeling inside you.  It might be that you really notice the ugliness of a piece of chewed gum on the pavement, or the beauty of a pigeon, or vice versa.  An overheard snippet of conversation might strike you as amusing, or strange.  Whatever you notice, you will be noticing it with fresh eyes.  

How do I pick up my small stones?
The best way is to catch them as they occur, by carrying a note-book around with you and jotting down some notes straight away.  If you don’t have any paper, the back of your hand will do.  If you don’t have a pen, play around with some words in your head and hold onto them until you can catch them on paper.  You might want to write a lot down to start with - let your imagination off the leash.  When you’ve written down everything you can think of, you can go through what you’ve got and choose the words that seem to get you close to what you originally noticed.  There - a small stone!

How do I polish up my stones?
The following check-list will help you to polish your stone up until it is as perfect as you can make it:
* Have you used precise words?
Was the berry red or was it scarlet? 
* Is every single word necessary?
In a short piece of writing, every word must earn its keep. If it doesn’t add anything, take it out!
* Have you shown us something or told us something?
It is usually more effective to describe something and let the reader draw their own conclusions, than to ‘spell it out’.  Rather than writing ‘the sky was beautiful’, show us the sky.     
* How does it look on the page?
Do you want to use a title?  How do you want to use capital letters and punctuation?  Do you want to break up your sentence into shorter pieces and put them underneath each other?  Fiddle about until it looks right. 
* What does it sound like when you read it out loud?
Does the rhythm please you?  Do you stumble at the same point every time?  How do the words sound next to each other?  Fiddle about until it sounds right.

There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions – part of being a writer is discovering your own unique ‘way with words’.  The important thing is that you take time to consider them, and do some tinkering.  This tinkering should be fun – be playful.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Technical gremlins (and keep writing)

Good Morning Stoners,

I woke up this morning to find a whole heap of lovely fragments of poetry, and a long list of new people taking part. And also to find that the River of Stones page, where everyone's writing is collated isn't working.

I used Yahoo! pipes to filter and collect the small stones from everyone's blogs, via your .rss feeds. Whilst the Pipes homepage is working, and you can see your river of stones there (on Yahoo!) this morning both the widget, which some people have embedded in their webpages, and the output .rss feed, which feeds our twitter account have stopped  working.

If none of this means anything to you, don't worry - keep writing - and accept my apologies that both the twitter feed and The River of Stones page are down at the moment. You can use the blog roll on the right to see what other people are writing.

If you do know what I'm talking about, and have any bright ideas about what might be wrong, or an alternate way of collating many .rss feeds, do let me know in the comments below.

In the mean time, keep writing and keep checking back here - we've got some interesting posts lined up for the next day or so.



Saturday 1 January 2011

What is a small stone?

(If you are new here - click here for the welcome post)

Firstly: Happy New Year! 

Fiona and I have had fun watching the idea of a small stone travelling across the internet. Watching its journey from just a slip of a thought to becoming a thing in its own right. But what is that thing?

Fiona has been collecting small stones for years, her own fragments of writing at a small stone, and other people's at a handful of stones.

When I moved out of the Buddhist community I was living in I made a promise to start collecting my own small stones, but it's taken this project, and the momentum of a nearly two hundred other people writing to get me going. I've written a few pre-January stones at another small stone.

Haiku gone wrong?

Seeing someone writing that a small stone looked like "Haiku gone wrong" prompted this post.

A small stone might be a haiku, but it might not be. We're not asking for you to write in any form. What we're asking for is for you to look, and listen and taste and feel with all your attention, and then to put this into words. A tight form can help with this: T.S. Eliot talked about how having a good fixed structure can help reveal a deeper truth as your creativity is confined by the form.

But good haiku is difficult. The form has its own desires and sympathies, and it might not be the best way to describe the stone you have picked up. Perhaps a tanka might be better. I've written truly awful examples of both.

I'm not even sure a small stone is a poem. "What a poem is" is beyond the scope of this post (and beyond me).

Sometimes a small stone is just a few words that points to the moment, like this example by Mop from Poésie minimaliste - Minimalist poetry
Bath Time.
Five sparrows in the water.

Sometimes a small stone points to something seen inside a person, or felt about a person, like this stone by Rose Mary Boehm from Coming Up For Air

They bought her a puppy
when what she needed
was her mum and a ride
across the far side
of the moon.
Be Playful!
No one is sitting here judging. Whilst we are encouraging you to really look, and listen and feel, take the chance to play a little with words as well. When you have your moment in mind, try capturing it just as a few words, or a couple of longer sentences or as a haiku and see what difference it makes.

For more about what a small stone is, and how to polish them, have a look at this article Fiona wrote a little while ago: Writing your own small stones

Feel free to ignore all of this advice ;) We hope that you are enjoying the writing, and discovering new things about the world around you.

~ Kaspa