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
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.