I was one of the hundreds of people who took part in the 'River of Small Stones' project last January. All we had to do was sign up to write a 'small stone' every day and post it up on the 'Writing Our Way Home' blog run by Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita Thompson. What's a small stone? Here's the definition from the introduction to A Blackbird Sings: An Anthology of Small Stones
"A small stone is a few words or lines that describe a moment observed: a fragment of prose or poetry that tries to capture something seen, heard, felt, tasted, smelled or experienced in the world. When we write small stones we aim for an intimacy with whatever it is that is being observed; we aim for an observation that is as true as possible."
I suppose the nearest analogy is the haiku, but for a small stone, the form is freer and there is no limit to length.
It's the first time I'd come across 'Mindfulness Writing', though I knew that Ted Hughes used to spend up to an hour looking intensely at something before writing about it and a French writer (?Guy de Maupassant) urged writers to observe; 'look at a tree until it looks like no other tree anyone has ever seen. Only then can you describe it'. I lead a busy life as a writer and found it hard to find even half an hour of stillness in my day to look at something - really look - and then write something. Many of the things I wrote were trite, flat, cliche'd. Often that singular 'thingness' of the thing escaped me. But there were times when I connected with the world around me in a new way - observing small things so intensely made them seem sharper, closer.
I found the experience valuable as a writer and I'm delighted that Fiona and Kaspalita have put together an anthology of just some of the small stones that were posted in January. There are gems I missed on the blog and some favourites I now have a permanent copy of. Oh, and there are two of mine :-)