Rain fills the creeks
Rivers run deep
Dams begin to fill and overflow
The farmer explains to his child
In a voice excited yet mild
Just what rain means, for he doesn't know
Dusty plains become green
Cattle are no longer lean
A dying crop again starts to grow
Weathered faces start to smile
For the first time in a while
A flock of corellas puts on a show
Children splash in the mud
Puddles precious as blood
A woman can't hide her joy
The drought is now broke
Dry earth is now soaked
The farmer's wife is hoping for a boy
But the farmer was blessed with a daughter
And in appreciation for the water
He named the precious child Storm
For on the night she was conceived
The heavens offered a reprieve
The farmer and his wife celebrated till dawn
The apple of his eye
The farmer actually cried
When he held that baby girl in his arms
But on that day of her birth
The farmer left this old earth
An accident back on the farm
A wild bull at the gate
Was what sealed his fate
He lay clutching the hole in his chest
"Take care of your mother
And tell her I love her
I know you will do your best"
These final words to his son
For his time had come
He lay there bleeding and dying
"Just do what is right
Never give up the fight
Don't let anybody stop you from trying"
Thunder clapped as lightning danced
The rain kept a steady beat
The outback orchestra has her own secret way
Of lulling a farmer to sleep.
Friday, October 5, 2012
She’ll always be
His baby girl
Although she’s found her own way
Into the big bad world
She’s an uncut diamond
Prefers to stay rough
She still knows how to do pretty
But the world
Has taught her tough
She loves Guthrie and Bragg
Mcgarrigle and Cash
They help her
To find peace
When her worlds begin to crash
When a train whistle blows
She gets the train whistle blues
Walks the line everyday
In Doc Martin shoes
To that little girl
She tattooed her sleeves
And shaved her curls
She lends her voice to poets
Brings their art to life
Writes verse just like the greats
Is not afraid of strife
If one day I should meet her
I know how I’ll react
She’ll pour me whisky in a tea cup
Chipped and cracked
We’ll dance to Cave and to Waits
Recite poetry of our own
The girl from York will show me
The land she calls her home
Still loved by her father
That little girl
Now stands tall
Loved by many the world over
By one and all
Monday, September 10, 2012
I’ve been following the Piper’s Reach project from the very first letter and I must say that I love every minute of it.
Whose idea was the project?
JODI – I conceived the original idea in late 2009. I was interested in exploring the intersection of two lives where the people know each other in real time, but chose to explore a different aspect of their friendship through the medium of letters – an antidote to the instantaneous life style we all live – and what ensues.
I didn’t pitch the idea to the writing partner I had in mind because circumstances changed. The idea stayed nestled in the back of my head while I waited for the right collaborative partner.
Cue Adam, left of stage.
We met (in real life) on the last day of 2011, as I was travelling through Sydney on the way home to Brisbane with my family. I knew instantly Adam was the writing partner I’d be waiting for.
ADAM – While I was on holidays at Brunswick Heads in January of this year, Jodi pitched the idea to me after sussing out whether I was an avid letter writer during high school, which I was.
JODI – It’s joked of as the ‘bikini pitch’. Let’s just say I don’t intend to pitch any more ideas in my bikinis while building sand castles.
ADAM – Over the next three days we thrashed out the basic premise, character names and setting via text message. Three days of intense thinking, brainstorming and developing the No Spoilers Policy (NSP).
You must have put a lot of faith in each other to be able to carry the story the way you envisaged it.
JODI - The only thing I expected from Adam was he’d write a compelling letter once a fortnight, and where possible, provide legible handwriting!
ADAM – I’ll say Jodi has put a lot of faith in me to bring her idea to fruition. I hope I have repaid that faith by writing, as authentically as possible, the character of Jude.
JODI – Repaid, and then some!
ADAM – Writing this series has exceeded my expectations. I get to write an intriguing character, balanced against the revelations of Jodi’s character, their former friendship, the knowledge they have now, and I get to have a lot of fun doing it.
JODI – I indulged a selfish need to rediscover myself as I writer via this project and dragged Adam in, then a bunch of readers. All these months later I am grateful to say among Ella-Louise’s missives, I have rediscovered myself as ‘writer’ and reginited my passion for writing.
Has the story gone in the direction you originally thought it might?
ADAM – Jude’s own background is quite simple and has provided a foil to Ella-Louise’s past and the first season has gone in the direction I thought it would. There are a couple of things we initially suggested in our brainstorming and planning that haven’t featured yet, for example, Jude’s occupation: he is a marine biologist who gets seasick. There’s a story line there, but there hasn’t been an opportunity to develop it. Similarly, the background to his family is sketchy.
I suspect Jodi and I have edged the narrative in certain directions at times with some of the topics Jude and Ella-Louise have talked about, and I know we both have things up our sleeve to reveal should the opportunity present itself.
JODI – The narrative is so malleable, from one letter to another, it’s hard to say if it went where I thought it would go at the beginning. I wrote with the idea of Ella-Louise and Jude hooking up, but that was jettisoned around letter three.
I’ve been developing back and future stories for Ella-Louise since we started writing. Some appear in one letter and end somewhere completely different several letters on (Ella-Louise’s scars belonged to a different narrative arc to the one they are now attached to). Other stories I’ve sat on for months waiting for the right time to slip it in (Ella-Louise’s rather difficult ‘friendship’ with Zeke) and others are biding their time. Sometimes a scene will drop into my head in the shower or as I wake, but more often than not they spontaneously appear on the page as I’m writing.
ADAM – Season Two has gone in a direction I didn’t think it would, based on what I knew of Jude and Ella-Louise, but characters can surprise you sometimes.
JODI – I always had an idea of what might happen at the reunion but as the letters progressed I didn’t believe the person Jude presented in his letters was congruent with what I always imagined would be the natural outcome of them meeting again.
ADAM – That being said, it fell fortuitously (depends on how you look at it) into my hands to write the first letter after the school reunion. I struggled for weeks to solve the problem of the reunion, but a text from Jodi gave me a line from Ella-Louise that helped create traction.
If Jodi had written it, it may have gone in a different direction; actually, I must ask her what she would have done (but no spoilers here).
JODI –Would I have done it different to you? Yes, and no!
Adam, from what I know about you personally, I can see some of your characteristics in Jude. Are any of the sub characters based on people you or Jodi knows?
ADAM – As far as I am aware, none of the minor characters are based on people we know and I haven’t consciously developed characters based on people I know. Readers can superimpose their own memories of high school relationships onto the characters and engage with the storyline.
JODI - I think many of the bit characters are archetypes you recognise from your own teenage years. Grace is the quinessential high school bitch, with sour grapes, hell bent on destroying those because she can’t have the guy she wants. At my school, her name was Carmen! I imagine Paul Halligan as another Paul I knew at high school, the best mate of a guy I liked, and Bart the vomitter is that obnoxious, good looking boy (who knows it) found in every school yard.
Ava and Matt, Zeke and his Dad Raph, are all counter players to give Ella-Louise a new history in Coranderk (and blanket her past). Zeke was a deliberate inclusion. I was intrigued to see if the mention of another guy in Ella-Louise’s orbit would ruffle Jude’s feathers. Ironicially Jude never mentions Zeke in Season One, but that changes in Season Two.
ADAM - While the characters are made up, we have used events in our lives as the basis for some of the things that Jude and Ella-Louise talk about. In a recent letter (an upcoming letter early in Season 2), Jodi mentioned an event from her life that featured in Ella-Louise’s story.
I have used events from my own or other’s lives as the basis for some things in the letters, but the vast majority is still pure fiction. You’re spot on in recognising some of my characteristics in Jude, but he is not me, nor is Ella-Louise Jodi. They are still purely fictional characters. We tap into our own emotional experiences to lend authenticity to their writing.
JODI – I sometimes write something (the up and coming car scene for example) and when I’m reading back over the letter realise it has pulled something directly from my past. There was a lot more of my past in the early letters. Ella-Louise and I shared a weird quasi history: she had my formal dress, the bamboo bed of Ella-Louise and Jude’s Easter tryst, circa 1992, comes direct from my grandparents spare room; the late night love affair with Rage; and the hording of chewy wrappers and letters. I bet hot chips figure somewhere in Adam’s teenage years.
Adam, Jude has a lot of great qualities and it seems like he really wants to do the right thing for Ella Louise, but at the same time he is trying to remain loyal to his wife.
Were you tempted to create Jude as a single man or someone who is going through a divorce?
In my mind, Jude was always a married man. I developed a family for him: Rebecca his wife, Jordan his eldest daughter and the twins, Harley and Flynn, because he was always a “small town” person. Not in a negative sense; his identity and place are both firmly grounded in the town where he grew up. Even though he left for a time, the pull of Piper’s Reach was too strong. It is where he feels grounded, safe and secure.
Music plays a big part in the story, so much so that I find myself thinking of songs that would go with certain scenes. In the March 5 letter Jude writes of a dream he had in which Ella Louise walks into the ocean to drown herself. Immediately, ‘The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me Today’ by Tom Waits started playing in my head. Was that song an influence on the dream?
ADAM – That song wasn’t an influence on the dream; the event is based loosely on a real event.
JODI – I love the dream sequences (I think there’s two) and I’ve been desperate to write a dream sequence but it hasn’t happened – though I think I can see how they play a role in the future.
ADAM - I am glad readers are creating their own soundtrack to accompany the series. Jodi and I tap into our own musical heritage and like to create the soundtrack, and sometimes we suggest music for the other to have a listen to. The other day I mentioned Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” as a song for Ella-Louise.
JODI – And I think Billy Joel’s “Always A Woman To Me” is a stellar song for Jude. Colin Hays’ “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” – suggested by Adam is still on high rotation. It’s the perfect song for Ella-Louise and provided me with a different focus to filter her through.
ADAM - Music has the ability to tap into the emotional headspace of the character, and the reader, a connection to an event or emotion that highlights the memory. Maybe it’s the lyrics or the melody, or just the overall “feel” of the song that makes the connection. I would love to know what other songs people would suggest for the Piper’s Reach playlist.
JODI - I think the fact readers are constructing their own soundtracks shows they are making strong connections with the story and are aritculating it back to us in music (reversing what we’re doing to them). Each suggestion provides us with a new insight into our characters.
I particularly love your suggestion Josh that Jude play “Always on my Mind”… because I don’t think Jude ever really released Ella-Louise. She is there imbedded in the sights and smells of Pipers Reach, never far away. The stupid romantic in me wants to see Jude sing it down the phone line to Ella-Louise… but pink elephants are more likely to fall from the sky (but I can hope!)
Finally, Adam, I must know: do breast implants really feel like jellyfish?
ADAM – I actually have no idea what breast implants feel like. I have never touched implants, nor have I ever touched a woman who has implants, but I have touched a jellyfish. Let’s just say it seemed like a good image to construct at the time.
Jodi, during the formative years of the relationship, Jude was under the impression that Ella Louise was gay. One of my closest online friends is a gay woman and I think we have a unique relationship, in which we can talk freely about our most intimate thoughts without worrying about sexual tensions or one person getting a crush on the other. Was that something you thought of when you put that into the story?
JODI - “I don’t kiss boys.” It was a throw away line, a defence mechanism when Jude invites her up to The Point the first time, just so he knows she’s not easy but I also guess to stop any potential entanglement. Ella-Louise is all prickles and hard edges in 1988 when she moves to Piper’s Reach. She doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t want to connect with the locals, she just wants to go back to her grandparents in Sydney. She’s was the proverbial roiling storm.
But as you point out, the fact Jude thinks she’s not into boys, gives their friendship space to grow without the complications of feelings and really lays the solid, but difficult foundation, of their relatioship… one that’s never straight forward for there on.
Jodi, I know a lot of fans have requested that the letters be turned into an e-book, which would be great. I have been picturing a TV mini-series with each episode starting with either Jude or Ella Louise reading or writing the latest letter and when they start speaking about their past, the TV show could flash back to the younger characters playing out the scenes.
Have you dared think that far ahead?
JODI – I see Piper’s Reach as the middle of future projects, that definitely has potential for a retrospective look at their lives. With all the dark, difficult stuff going on at the moment, it’s tempting to look backward and dream about what might be there.
ADAM – That would be brilliant. Perhaps after the series we could write the script treatment. Dreaming that far ahead is beyond the horizon. However, one evening while I was washing up, I did dream that Post Marked: Piper’s Reach took off as the “next big thing” and Jodi and I were invited to speak at literary events to read some of the letters (which we both felt very embarrassed about). It never hurts to dream.
JODI - I originally dreamed this was the project that catapulted myself and my writing partner into the literary limelight so I think there’s something to Adam’s wrist deep, sudsy day dreams. Though we both did say, the letters would need to be “carefully chosen”.
Jodi, the final letter doesn’t give away too much, other than we know Jude is feeling incredibly guilty about something he has done. I’m not entirely convinced that he slept with Ella Louise. Is there anything you wish to reveal at this point?
ADAM – I know this one. (But, “No Spoilers” except to say we find out more about Ella-Louise’s past.)
JODI – What if Ella-Louise slept with Jude? It kind of prickles me that readers think Jude above falling into bed with Ella-Louise, but it is almost a given that Ella-Louise would (or should) seduce him.
I can reveal that Jude orchestrates an “incursion” into Ella-Louise’s private space at the McCracken house with a few old friends before the reunion. I say incursion (because I deleted out invasion) as we learn, Ella-Louise is adament to keep her presence in Piper’s Reach under the radar. We see for the first time how intensely private she is. I think Jude refers to Ella-Louise as “gracious” for opening her place to them, but I know it would have been something Ella-Louise would have resisted.
And while we think did they, or did they not [insert your preferred indiscretion here], there is plenty of unresolved history between them to contemplate: Jude’s family complications (now and then), Ella-Louise’s very hidden past, what Ella-Louise sees as Jude’s betrayal of her as a young woman, what Jude sees as Ella-Louise’s betrayal of him with the city surfie, unspoken promises of salvation, all of which shaken and stirred would produce the Guilt Effect heavy in Jude’s letter.
In Season Two we’ll see the impact of Jude’s family on both him and Ella-Louise I think. His Dad has a big part to play in this, and a lesser extent his mother (I hear Bill and Marion arguing about Ella-Louise and Jude from time to time). And we’ll also see what they both want in life, isn’t too far removed from each other. The problem being one has it, and the other believes they can’t have it.http://postmarkedpipersreach.wordpress.com/
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
I can’t remember when it began
When our time together started
We’ve just always been together
I don’t think we’ve ever parted
I used to proudly show her off
She would accompany me to dinner
We would complement each other
I knew I was onto a winner
There were times when I thought I’d lost her
I began to worry and fret
But she’d show up somewhere unexpected
A little battered, dusty, or wet
Now she’s showing her age
She has more character than grace
But that’s ok by me
I’ll always choose leather over lace
Now when I go to dinner
She has to stay at home
But I always take her with me
Whenever I work, play, or roam
Now there’s a new hat on the rack
Without a blemish or a stain
She only comes out for special occasions
I wouldn’t dare take her in the rain
I still reach for the old one
It’s just a habit I suppose
But an old hat just doesn’t cut it
When I’m dressed in formal clothes
She’ll always have a place on the rack
On my head and in my heart
Like the first girl I ever loved
I know we’ll never part
And just like that young girl
She isn’t what she used to be
She’s getting better with age
She will always fit me.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Where brumbies and wild cattle
With bushfires do battle
And dingos chase rabbits around
Where the river winds slowly
There is something quite holy
I feel through my bare feet on parched ground
Flocks of black cockatoos
Soar high above red kangaroos
Kookaburras laugh at this drover
I wander the valleys and hills
Away from troubles and ills
Where I waltz my Matilda all over
It’s not possible to bottle
The beauty of a wattle
The heart of the outback you can’t contain
When this old soul does pass
And I’ve emptied my last whisky glass
At the base of a rivergum place my remains
On my flesh the crows may feast
So I can thank them at least
For being a muse to the poets and me
Let the dingos take my bones
Give the children all my tomes
That they may read them in the shade of my tree
Sunday, August 12, 2012
He began to follow
When I couldn’t understand my sorrow
I decided to keep him around
He was never out of sight
Kept me awake at night
Tried to pull me into the ground
I fed him my sanity
My life was mere vanity
He fed me dark thoughts in kind
Soon all I could see
Was the Black Dog and me
Quickly going out of my mind
I struggled for air
In my pit of despair
Ignored my friends, my family
He’d taken my soul
Into the endless black hole
Now he wanted my life
It was no use to me
I just wanted to be free
From the pain and the horror
It was so hard to keep going
When unspeakable pain was all I was knowing
Why should I even bother
When I stopped feeding the canine
Took back what was rightfully mine
I slowly began to recover
I didn’t have to lose this fight
Though he snarled and tried to bite
I found a strength I hadn’t known
A fight to the death I had to win
These scars I have upon my skin
A reminder of the day I picked up a stone
I smashed in his head
Left him bleeding and dead
So I could again start living again
I write these words now
In the hope that somehow
I can help someone else escape their dark pain.
I was recently referred to as a “no-hoper’s witness” by one of the spawn of the drug dealers in my street. The attack on my faith didn’t upset me, particularly considering where it came from.
It did however make me think about my current lot in life, regardless what my hope for the future may be.
Those of you who know me would know that I’m struggling to finish a major home building project while working fulltime and trying my best to be a good father to my four children. I also like to write in my spare time.
The tourism brochures will have you believe that The Hunter Valley (where I live) is an idyllic, peaceful wine-growing region a mere two hours’ drive north of Sydney. The reality is, unfortunately, that in the last ten years the mining industry has expanded so greatly that The Hunter Valley has become a rat race in a dustbowl. This is not the environment I want to raise my family in.
I spent only the first eleven years of my life in small country towns, but whenever I travel west I feel like I’m going home. It only takes the smell of a cattle truck or freshly cut lucerne to start me daydreaming again. I've laways hoped to move back there someday.
I’ve been trying to turn my quarter acre block into a miniature farm, with chooks, ducks, rabbits and a vegetable garden. I even fattened a couple of lambs on the vacant block next door, but it felt a bit strange when I slaughtered them with neighbours staring, mouths agape. I think something is very wrong with our society when people are more likely to call the police to report somebody preparing a meal than they are to report the drug dealer next door.
So I asked myself why am I struggling so much and working so hard to build such a nice house where I don’t want to live. The only answer I could come up with is that I’m trying to win the rat race. Michael Franti rightly sang “only a rat could win a rat race”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like rats very much, and I don’t like being in this race anymore.
A week ago I applied for a job in the north-west of the state and was a little shocked to get a phone call a few days later from a woman who wanted me to come for an interview. If I take the job it will mean abandoning the building project on my home and learning to survive on a lower wage. But can you really put a price on happiness?
All of this striving after the wind will amount to nothing when my children grow up, leave home and wonder why their father spent all his time at work or working on a big house with nobody to fill it by the time it was finished.
All I need to do is sell my unfinished house, convince my wife to leave her family and friends, and move to a town she has only ever driven through once in her life. I hope I can do it.
I’ll keep you posted.