Writing Rocks

2016-01-21 12.46.49 smWe are blessed with a wild, pebbly beach just four kilometres away from home. On that beach is a sampling of the geology of New Zealand, polished and rounded from the sea.

At first glance, the rocks are all nondescript greywacke.

Look more closely, down by the waterline, and you find a veritable rainbow of metamorphic rocks.

Brick red rocks laced with white,

Green serpentine, mottled to look like miniature Earths,

Translucent quartz,

Smooth pebbles black as night,

Chalky white rocks like petrified marshmallows,

Improbably pink rocks flecked with sparkling quartz (said to be the sweat of one of the early Maori chiefs in the area, produced when he challenged the taniwha in the Rakaia River).

When we first moved here, I brought home a pocketful of colourful stones every time we went to the beach.

I quickly realised I couldn’t keep doing that, or I’d end up with hundreds of jars full of rocks.

Now I allow myself one rock each beach visit. One rock that speaks to me. A rock that is more than all the other rocks on the beach.

The rock might bounce around in my pocket for a few weeks after I pick it up. I’ll pull it out and look at it, finger it in the pocket, feeling it’s shape, weight, and imperfections.

Most rocks then find a home in the cobble-lined drainage ditch that carries rainwater away from the house.

The very best rocks—those that whisper stories to me and fit my palm perfectly—become my writing rocks. These pebbles sit on my desk and occupy my hands while I’m contemplating a new plot or considering a character’s strengths and weaknesses. They capture the churning crucible of the earth’s crust, the rush of mountain streams, and the wildness of the sea. They tell me their stories, and I tell them mine.

3 thoughts on “Writing Rocks

  1. I once found an invertebrate fossil in a slab of limestone on our property in New Mexico, but when we sold and left, I forgot it. It still bothers me. Rocks have a kind of permanence that holds my mind really well. Thanks for this very moving post.

    Like

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