And the winner of the prize draw, receiving a copy of Alexander Master’s book Stuart: A Life Backwards is Ana Gonçalves.
After pulling Ana’s name out of my (virtual) hat, I clicked on her profile and it took me to her lovely small-stone/photo blog expressive world. It’s really well designed and definitely worth a look
In other book give-away news Margo Roby who blogs at Wordgathering is giving away a copy of No Bones to Carry, an award winning collection by internationally published poet, James Penha and a copy of pay attention: a river of stones.
Margo’s blog is really very good, with or without free books, she writes poetry prompts and advice on writing poems. Click on over to this post to be entered into her draw.
Fiona is giving away one copy of the hardback version of pay attention: a river of stones. She’s also written a new article today which “looks at how often we ignore the things we shouldn’t, what happens when we do, and how you can get better at paying attention to them instead. You might want to read it if you’ve ever ignored anything ever.”
Head over to this post to read more and find out how to enter: Fatty, slugs and win a free hardback
Today, I finished my first ever month-long e-course: Writing as Spiritual Practice.
Since the beginning of March, my lovely course participants have been reading my daily emails, writing small stones, engaging in discussions on the private group at Writing Our Way Home, reading my essays, investigating resources and answering my questions.
Most of all, they’ve been following their curiosity, and allowing it to take them to their edges. What is their experience of faith? When is it difficult to persevere? When do they feel they let themselves down? How could they be kinder to themselves?
A few reflections, on phenomena which seem to be true for a lot of us. We have negative associations with being in a ‘classroom’ situation. We are harder on ourselves than we are on other people. We compare ourselves to others. We like getting attention and then we’re not sure we deserve it. We have unique writing voices which grow clearer and stronger when we try to get our ego out of the way. We find our own way through, in our own time. We are all ordinary human beings. We are all marvellous human beings.
It’s been a privilege to accompany my group as they’ve engaged with the materials, each in their own unique ways. It’s been a real pleasure.
I’ll be starting all over again on Monday the 4th, with (at the moment) seven new participants. If you’ve ever written before or not, if you’d think of yourself as a spiritual person or not, would you like to join us? The only requirement is curiosity… and maybe a little faith, as you’ll have to take a leap to write me that initial email saying ‘I might be interested’… Oh, and you also have to be an ordinary human being.
Have wonderful weekends. We watched Inception last night – I’m still trying to work it out!
Yesterday, the sun came out.
We carried our wooden chairs out onto the lawn and sat with poetry books and squash. The cats lay on the path and worshipped the sun in their own way.
Kaspa remarked on how we were suddenly inhabiting a different world to the one we’d been in all day – inside the computer, communicating by keyboard, meeting new people through social media, reading tweets, looking at flat images.
Out here, we could smell the grass. We could hear the birds. We could feel the grass tickling our toes.
Last night, I inhabited another world. I was pushing my baby niece’s pushchair, stumbled on my boot, and let her go into a busy bus station. I ran after her as the wheels went faster and faster.
We inhabit many different world – some overlapping, some not. Here is another – your glimpse into my world, into my experiences, my stumbling steps.
What can I learn from sitting in the garden with grass tickling my toes? What has this internet world got to teach me? Who will I meet today? What can I learn from their worlds?
Things you might be curious about
Be conscious of the different worlds you move in and out of today.
Keep your ears open.
A different language is a different vision of life.
If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person?
PS This is my weekly email – if you’d like it delivered to your inbox, click here to sign up.
PPS today we changed our Writing Our Way Home community
I sat down twenty minutes to start my work for the day, but instead I wrote this small stone about the two washing lines I can see from my office window:
towels and shirts and pillowcases show me the shapes of the breeze
Where am I? What am I doing with my life?
I sit with these questions, and roll them round. I take a deep breath. Something settles a little.
Yesterday we spent some time in our sunny conservatory reading poetry. I’m still in love with Neil Astley’s new collection, Being Human. ‘This is it’, I thought.
And ‘it’ is also a muddle of other things. Doing the washing up. Worrying about death. Doing admin for tax returns. Gazing at Fatty with his belly up and bliss on his face. Ordinary things.
Aubrie Cox has written a good review of our book, ‘pay attention: a river of stones’ – the first looking at the collection with a critic’s eye. I feel happy that we made the book. I feel happy about offering it to the world as it is.
I feel happy about offering myself to the world as I am (most of the time). Doing my best, and being human. I feel happy that I can sit in our conservatory and read poems. I feel happy that I can pause to watch the breeze-shapes before getting on with the next thing.
The heart’s reasons
even the hardest
its whip-marks and sadness
and must be forgiven.
As the drought-starved
the drought-starved lion
who finally takes her,
enters willingly then
the life she cannot refuse,
and is lion, is fed,
and does not remember the other.
So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.
The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.
~ Jane Hirshfield
As part of World Book Night (which, although grandly titled, was, this year, just in the UK) Fiona volunteered to give away 48 copies of one of her favorite books. In total, volunteers gave away one million books across the UK to encourage people to read something new, or in many cases just to read.
We’ve got one copy of Alexander Masters’ Stuart: A Life Backwards left, and we’d like to give it to one of you.
Stuart is the real life hero of this story, a homeless person that Masters meets and decides to tell the story of. Stuart advises Alex to tell the story backwards, and this book is the result, although it’s as much about their relationship as about Stuart’s life. It’s moving, and funny and sometimes heartbreaking. I read it a couple of years ago when a friend recommended it and couldn’t put it down.
If you’d like to be entered into the draw to receive our last copy of this World Book Night edition of this fantastic true story, please leave a comment below (we’re happy to ship it to wherever you live). I’ll pull a name out of the hat a week today.
In other news, we’ve added a page called How you can help us - any of these things would be wonderful, but we are also very happy for you to be here and benefit without ever hearing from you. Keep writing the small stones!
The first is to share the word about our work. Tell your friends about writing small stones, or Fiona’s free e-book, or our free community.
The third is to put a few coins in our tip jar by using the Paypal button below. Every little counts.
In January, more than 350 people took part in our small stones challenge as a way of connecting with the world. They paid attention to one thing every day, and wrote it down.
If you want to know more about how writing small stones might help you, do try my free e-book (just on the right). Freya Pickard has just generously reviewed it on her blog Dragonscale Clippings – “This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Beautifully presented and written it is a delightful handbook for all creative writers whether beginners or published novelists.”
I’m still catching up after nine days in an alternative universe (my psychotherapy course), and it’s lovely to be home. It’s good to be away, but it’s always lovely to be home.