8:12 am — Atlanta
Hello all. I hope you are well and have had a wonderful weekend, writing or otherwise. I have the brisket in the slow cooker, so have cleared the decks for me to try something new: an interview. I know I promised a ballad today, but it occurred to me that Tryouts don’t all have to be poems [just 99% of them] and I have wanted to do this interview which will give you the opportunity to try several things.
I first met [in a cyber-sense] Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita when I read about Fiona’s small stones in someone else’s blog back in December. I tracked down her blog and was immediately interested in what she was suggesting which was that anyone who joined pay a little more attention to the world than normal and for each day in January write a small stone. This did not have to be a finished poem, but a sentence, phrase, or a few words.
When the month of writing ended Fiona and Kaspa did two things: they started a writing network, Writing Our Way Home, and they asked us to polish a few of our stones and submit them for possible inclusion in a forthcoming anthology of small stones: pay attention: a river of stones. Now they are getting ready to repeat January’s experiment in July and this interview is to help publicise that, as well as the writing network.
The writing network has 383 members currently and contains many levels. There are groups of all sorts, to do with writing, reading, journaling, poetry forms, video poetry…if there isn’t a group we are encouraged to start our own. Fiona and Kaspa offer ecourses at very reasonable rates, one of which I am enrolled in for May and I shall let you all know how it goes [or you can sign up!]. Meanwhile, drop by for a visit…Join!…You can join in, or skulk around the edges. The atmosphere is relaxed, like being in a large cozy study, or den.
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.
Kaspa: There’s no form in terms of metre, or syllable count. The form is the process of paying attention to the world, and writing what you have noticed in an accurate way. Some people do write their small stones in poetic forms, which is great, but sometimes a small stone is just a snatch of beautiful prose.
What is your intent with your small stone mission, particularly with regard to July?
Fiona: We’d love to encourage as many new people as we can to try out writing small stones. We’d also love previous participants to have another go – at a different time of the year – and see how their experience differs.
Kaspa: In January we had around 300 bloggers take part in our challenge, writing one small stone each day. This July we’d love to have 1000 people noticing and writing down one small stone each day. We’ve created an online space, The River, to collect everyone’s small stones. If you want to take part, and be in The River, let us have the URL of your small stones blog.
Tell us a bit about WOWH and your vision, or dream, for it.
Fiona: We’ve been talking about this over the weekend… Kaspa?
Kaspa: The mission of Writing Our Way Home is to help people connect to the world through writing. We spend so much of our time wrapped up in our own thoughts, making judgments about the world and so on, that we often miss what is right before us. This is true of the natural world, and it’s true of our relationships with other people too. We don’t encounter the real person in front of us, just who we’d like them to be. Writing Our Way Home is about learning to pay attention to what is real.
How that happens includes the river of stones, and the Writing Our Way Home forums, and the e-courses, and courses and workshops in real life too. The ideal for us would be able to do all of these things, and still have time for us to pay attention to our own lives… time to tend to the veg. patch.
Tell us a little about the courses you offer and how they connect to us as writers, to small stones, and to WOWH.
Fiona: At the moment we offer two e-courses – Writing as Spiritual Practice (which Fiona wrote/runs) and Eastern Therapeutic Writing (which Kaspa wrote/runs). The courses are designed to be very flexible, and to give participants an experience of learning a lot about themselves as well as doing lots of writing and having fun. We keep the cohorts small as people have gained a great deal from speaking with each other in the private groups on the forum. ‘Writing Ourselves Alive’ and ‘Writing Towards Healing’ will start in August, and we’ll be launching ‘do it yourself’ courses in June. You’ve just got time to sign up for Kaspa’s course which starts in May.
Kaspa: The courses are all rooted in connecting with the world, and also with oneself, through writing, although they come at this from different angles. We’re just saying the same thing over and over again, really, but in different ways so people (including us) don’t get bored….. The important thing is paying attention, the courses help us to do that, and direct our attention and our writing practice to the areas where it might be most helpful.
I hope that gives everyone food for thought and that you will stop by Writing Our Way Home, and/or decide to join in with small stone writing in July. For examples of small stones stop by the River which keeps a running flow of stones, and stop by my other blog, Random Stones.
I will see you Thursday for more on words to avoid, and Friday for the week’s roundup, and next Tuesday we will take on the ballad. If you know anyone who might be interested in, or enjoy, any of the above, then click on the buttons below. Happy writing.