Choosing Stones & Sorting Words | Jillian Sullivan

Choosing Stones & Sorting Words

“Sorting words,” poet and neighbour Brian Turner said, “is like choosing stones; setting some aside, discarding some, placing others with care in the right place, to make something of craft and beauty that will last.”

We talked about this business of word selection while cementing in the last selection of stones, collected in haste at sunset before the cement dried out.

A few poets had a hand in making my stone floor: Brian, and Jessica Le Bas and Nick Sullivan.

We went with buckets through the long grass and across a rickety bridge to choose small, flat stones from the Ida Burn on my boundary.

Now after months I’ve faced my fears about how to grout them, and simply begun.

A grout as thick as toothpaste, mixed with my baking whisk, and pushed between the stones with a putty knife and then a spongy grout float.

Brian called to say coffee time, but the bucket of grout in front of me had 30 mins life, the packet said, so I carried on.

Carried on in ignorance and faith, a bit like writing – you have to keep going, one word, one stone at a time, in a shitty first draft.

And trust in the power of rubbing to bring out the beauty inherent in the pattern.
sorting stones

About Jillian

Jillian is an award-winning author for children, young adults, and adults. A mother of 5, a Grandma of 6, a teacher of the 'Hero's Journey' and a builder of straw bale houses.

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