Monday, 31 January 2011

Two Stones; One Strand

Today is the last day of January's Small Stones challenge. I have enjoyed the discipline of regularly producing these micro-poems; I've learned (mostly that I can write poetry if I just sit down and get on with it instead of dithering about in the hope of benevolent muse intervention); and I've had positive feedback from you. A triple win. Thank you very much to everyone who read and/or commented on my stones. Here are the last two for this month: 

Given the vastness of this planet,
The wonder of each human,
It seems absurd
That so much
Of my love
Is focussed
On you.

To see my man
Soothe my girl
Is to see giants

It is my intention to keep producing just one stone each time I visit you now. That way I keep my hand in but create time for different challenges (such as the painting I've said will be finished in two weeks).

In Saturday's Guardian, Ian Samson describes how Susan Hill has written 'A Kind Man':
'She lets the story tell itself, and then stops.'

If you're not a writer, this may seem a simple thing, maybe even a tautology, but it struck me as the highest praise I could imagine receiving (like the time a child told me I danced like the music sounded). I saw how storytelling is not creation as we might imagine, but the painstaking unpicking of one strand from the whole sticky web of life. Michelangelo said the Statue of David was already in the marble; he just had to remove the excess to reveal it and that's how it seems to be with wordsmithing.

The temptation to embellish, pacify, correct the truth is often with us, and with fiction there is the illusion that no-one will know which was the true version. But they will know and they will not like it. Ever read a book which seemed to be well written, but you just couldn't get really involved in it? Somewhere, the truth had been sidestepped.

So the challenge is to write with a deep honesty. Doing so is alarmingly revealing and requires an almost (but not quite) superhuman amount of insight and courage to maintain. It is also the reason I am a writer.

The truth will set us free!

And if you have a few minutes, please read this; Philip Pullman's speech about the need to save our libraries. Thank you.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

A Clutch of Small Stones

Today, happiness is
A Playmobil pirate
And no socks.

He is
Rain to my parched soil,
Good earth to harbour my seeds,
Thirsty plants to honour my rain.

Even after she landed,
She smiled,
Enjoying the fall.

Out with baggy men's jeans
In with skinny women's jeans
Is everyone looking at my bum?

'Come look at this'
Whispers my husband.
Our daughter,
For the first time,
Has surrendered to dreams
In her father's arms. 

Monday, 24 January 2011

Small Stones and Sexy Cello

A crow seesaws
On the telephone wire,
Dignity compromised,
Ducking and Rearing,
Until he is replaced
By a smug
Blue tit.

I walk in dusk
Like a shawl;
Like a cowl.

And the sexy cello I promised you is just at the other end of this link to Terri Windling's inspiring blog.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Five Small Stones

Decided to keep these separate this time. 
Do click the River of Stones widget on the right to join in - it's never too late. 
And please let me know your favourite :o).

My daughter
In my mother's arms
Is captured on a mug.
The mug, 
In my mother's hand,
Captures a tear.

I have an entire
Chocolate biscuit
In my mouth.
It makes me grin.

January dusk
Enfolds the hills
Like sleep.

One crocus
And a thousand promises
Of snowdrops.
It is coming.

I am grateful for today.
It has brought me
To you.
Yes, you.

Six Tales of Courage and How To Be Successful

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by a coalescence of happenings which all point (or shout if I try ignoring them for a while) in one direction. Today I look out over my world and am blasted by the vista of courage.

My favourite thought about courage, and I'm sorry I can't attribute this (can anyone else?), is that a fearless person has no opportunity to be courageous: courage is feeling the fear and still doing what needs to be done (slaying the monster/ removing the spider/ exhibiting the painting/ getting the haircut). So, the more scared you feel, the braver you can be. Hurrah!

I'd like to share with you some of the examples which appear on my horizon.

A friend has just met up with an old friend. Not so scary, you might think. But this woman was part of a group my friend had felt rejected by many years ago. Yes - now it's scary.

Another friend is taking on a teaching job for the first time; moving out of the student space and standing in the spotlight as the one everyone else turns to for help. She's definitely scared.

One of my best friends, who deserves a break more than anyone else I know, has been sending her children's books to publisher after publisher, despite many rejection letters (and silences). I know that one's scary.

An artist friend staggered when a commissioned piece fell on stony ground, but is working on another commission now, with fresh faith.

I have organised a local exhibition of my newest artwork (more on that in a post coming to you soon) at a time when my town will be swarming with art lovers and artists. Big scary exposure!

My daughter, Ickle Pickle, is standing, with support, despite some bumps and scares and bruises.

Which brings me to that famous Goethe quote:  
Maybe boldness is another form of courage. It certainly needs courage.

So, did these bold and courageous actions attract power and magic, even genius?

My first friend discovered that she had misunderstood her old circle of friends. They had not rejected her; they had actually missed her when she left. Now she is beginning to find some of them and re-weave the web of friendship with them. It is a magical and powerful process.

My second friend is still nervous about being in the teaching role, but is buoyed by all the people telling her how much they have benefited from her help over the years - a kind of genius, right?

My hopeful writer friend took me out to lunch yesterday to celebrate her first publishing deal. After all that magical dreaming, the genius won through and it actually happened.

My artist friend has been swamped by people eager to applaud the genius, power and magic in her paintings and to express delight about their commissioned works from her.

My exhibition, while still safely in the future, is also lurking in my studio, magically tempting me away from these hypnotic keys and suggesting that maybe I, too, can pour power into art.

And we know, don't we, that Ickle Pickle will one day run into my arms and climb a tree and, also that she will fall many times, but try and try and try. Her example is breathtaking; her method so simple:
Step One - Begin trying to do something that is way beyond your abilities. 
Step Two - Keep trying.
Step Three - Now you can do it.

We can all do it, whatever it is. 
Do let me know what it is you can do and where your courage lies so we can all inspire one another.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Small Stones, Queensland and the Solar System

It is a dull and dreary day.
My daughter laughs.
The clouds are beautiful.

January trees 
Dance the wind
To exhaustion

I stand, arms wide,
The sacred majesty
Of nature.
A labrador
Takes my legs from under me.

If one's husband
Puts his fork
In his hair
Whilst sneezing,
Is it wrong
To laugh?

Today I am full to bursting with love and, of course, that is reflected everywhere I look around the net. I have two links for you which will hopefully make you smile, although for different reasons.

The first is 100 Stories for Queensland. It does what it says on the tin. No-one's getting paid and the submission date is soon, but it's an inspiring example of heartfulness from our global village community and everyone (including you) is welcome to submit a story for inclusion. I will be. And do please pass this on to anyone else who may be interested.
[Edit: My story, 'Cake' has been selected for publication :o). Do please buy a copy if you can; 100% of profits going to the Flood Appeal].

My second link is more of a frippery, but has been making me smile all day. It is, quite literally, the song of the solar system. I recommend (when you've made it go as fast as it will so you can hear Pluto), slowing it right down and leaving it on as you work. It's like a cosmic wind chime :o). If only you could all have the pleasure of my daughter singing along.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A Path to Happiness... and small stones

January wind seeps,
Like an unwelcome hand,
Under my clothes.

Birds startle up in a plume
Like fresh-popped champagne.
The cat,
Like the cork,
Rolls lazy in the hot dust.

This practise of poetically witnessing and relaying a moment each day is working beautifully for me. I feel more creatively inspired and happier :o). It's not too late for you to join in here. And I am receiving such lovely comments, both here and on Facebook and Twitter, that when this month is over, I shall continue with one per blog post, just to keep my hand in and hopefully keep a smile on your face too.

A happy sight last month,
almost outside my door

Which brings me to the other thing I want to say today. I have just discovered Action For Happiness. It's a movement with the sole aim of increasing our happiness and decreasing misery. The beauty of getting on board now (although it doesn't officially launch until April 11th 2011) is that you can help shape how this is done; add your ideas and prioritise actions. I'm very excited, and it meshes wonderfully with the intention behind this blog and, well, my whole life really. I do hope you join up and join in.

I will be using the launch week to publish happy-making stories on my blog (true, fictional, whatever). I will write one myself, but also hope some of you will email me your stories so I can add them and generate maximum happiness. If you have a happy-making story to tell, do email it to me at: . Obviously I'll need to approve anything which goes into my blog, but your story is your own so please tell it how it feels truest. (This totally applies to fiction too.) Happy writing :o).

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Poetic Morsels and Whimsy

Two more of these fun little poetry morsels we call small stones:

January mist
Softens the edges;
Unhurries time

January mist
Plays peep-oh
With mountains

And a longer piece of whimsy which comes courtesy of an exercise from my Life Writing class with Chris Waters :


 I come from the woods,
A creature of dark earth and lofty hidey holes.

I come from the fields,
A woman of hard work and generous bounty.

I come from the moors,
An artist of agorophobic freedom and vast ideas.

I come from the oceans,
A being of sinuous comunity and heartful predation.

I come from the mountains,
A spirit of wild wisdom and true healing.

I come to this pass,
A devoted pilgrim seeking the future. 

Hopefully I've just organised my next exhibition, so soon I'll have more paintings for you. 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

8 Small Stones

If you don't know what a 'small stone' is, or you want to join in writing them, click the widget on the right, or here.

The greytone world,
Is all colour.

Every raindrop,
A kiss.

January wind
Sheep blown into corners
Like bleating litter

Wind-sculpted trees:
Perpetual motion

At the summit
I shout my prayer;
Startle ramblers.

My neighbour
Is learning
To sing.
My family
Are learning
To laugh.

Emergent butterfly
Take refuge
In my palm

A rain-laden leaf
Nods a waterfall;
Rises polished and proud

Monday, 3 January 2011

Small Stones

If you click on the widget on the right, you'll be transported through the virtual ether to a river of stones blog
I'm taking part, but I'm not blogging every day, so you'll get my small stones in installments. What follows is the first three.

In the deepest pockets
Of the Earth's skirt
Snow holds on

Subtle movement
Songbird diaspora
Empty peace

Thistle seeds wait
A month.
And then
The goldfinches come.

Mostly I have accepted this challenge to inspire me and because it's fun. But there's a possibility of one/some of them being published in an anthology at the end, so I would much appreciate your help choosing which to send of for consideration (I can send up to five).

And, as always, I love to hear your responses to my work.

And it's not to late to join in! This is such a marvellous planet and we humans are so amazing. Let's pay close attention (send your brain to another dimension, etc.) as a prayer of appreciation.
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