Ever since I stumbled onto How To Write Your Way Home by following random links down a rabbit hole, I have loved it. I’ve lost count of many things in relation to it:
the number of times I’ve read it;
the number of times I’ve recommended it to people;
the number of devices I’ve put it on;
the number of times I’ve forgotten about it and then recalled it when I have most needed it.
It is actually two books in one. Firstly it is an explanation of small stones and why you should write them. Interwoven amongst that is Lorrie’s Story – a fictional example of life when you’re truly noticing things, which is what the practice aims at (though the writing of small stones is only implied in this part). A couple of the events in Lorrie’s Story feel somewhat contrived, but no more so than the chosen one finding an ancient relic of untold power… which is par for the course in my normal choice of books. Lorrie’s Story is very sweet and touching, though it doesn’t offer much closure. But that’s OK, in this I see it demonstrating one of the things that we are meant to learn as we delve into the process of writing small stones — things aren’t always delineated clearly and neatly packaged, though it can seem like that when it is happening.
When I first started the process of writing small stones I was reading them avidly and posting mine in a few different places. But as I continued I realised that while we are trying to encapsulate the moment sometimes you truly just have to be there and trying to share it with others won’t always work. Certain small stones are best kept for yourself, to sharpen the memory of an event and to create an easy trigger to recall it, rather than inflicted on others who do not have the same emotional attachment. I do like the activity as practice for more evocative writing, as I tend to favour a florid and long-winded style. The small stone format can be both used to combat it by staying concise and focused or alternatively compliment and feed it by having description after description come crashing in like waves.
Obviously a lot of the small stones people write are visual in nature. I felt that the book could have gone into more detail about suggestions for the other senses (and indeed other types you could work from such as feelings) but it was a good idea to give a solid grounding in one area and leave such expansion as an exercise for the reader.
I think that people that are firmly in the camp that all adverbs are abhorrent won’t enjoy this book. But as a primary school teacher trying to encourage my students to become familiar with that much maligned category, a love of them has seeped into my essence. I owe much to this book, and the way it makes me think and feel about the world and my writing. It reminds me that white writing for an audience is fun, I am also part of that audience (one that savours the joyful dance of wordplay).
It is for this reason that I have chosen my review of Writing Your Way Home to be the inaugural post of my new blog, as thanks for wonderful guidance.