IT’S JUST a plain white envelope, six-and-a-half inches by four-and-a-half, a size that suggests a handwritten note rather than a printed piece of business correspondence; a thank-you for a birthday present or good wishes for the future.

The front is blank except for two large letters in the bottom right hand corner: FF, in red, looking like they were stamped by a kindergarten potato block. On the back, in scrawled block capitals, are the words Curiosity Killed the Cat.

Mary Jayne Baker found it; she’s an Airedale Writers’ Circle regular, author of The Honey Trap (and Meet Me At The Lighthouse, due to be published on June 30th).

The envelope was hidden, tucked between the pages of a book on sale at Salts Mill — a favourite lurking place for AWC members of all sorts.

And inside, on a single page of A4, there’s a short story, no more than the length of this article, about a man called Elias and his meticulous routine of choosing and drinking coffee.

It’s unsigned, anonymous. At the foot of the page there’s the only clue: the Twitter hashtag #foundfiction and an invitation to join the community there and on Facebook.

A few minutes on-line reveals a little more, though not a great deal. Found Fiction is a publishing experiment that aims to circulate new writing in public spaces; it’s well established in the UK, has a presence in the USA, Canada and Australia, and aims to be world-wide.

Pieces are duplicated and dropped in those unremarkable envelopes in art galleries, bookshops, on trains or at bus stops. If you find one, take it, read the story and let it brighten your day, and use the social media pages to let the community know about it.

There’s charm in the idea: publishing something you’ve written, widely yet without signing it, knowing that it might turn up anywhere in the country and speak a friendly word to a complete stranger.

There’s a message in a bottle quality to it, or it’s like putting a name-and-address tag on a helium balloon and letting the wind take it, hoping somebody will find it, put a stamp on the card and post it back from Norway or France.

And there’s a deeper truth.

In the writing world there’s so much emphasis on agents and publishers, best-sellers and multi-book deals, advances and royalties, that it’s easy to forget that the important thing is just to put the right words on the page.

To catch the mood and the moment as they pass.

That’s why we have a writers’ circle in the first place: for the satisfaction and pleasure of latching words together into a sentence, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into stories, and knowing that they say what you meant to say.