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Come In, Have A Seat…

The tea is brewed… one sugar or two? I know, cubes are so quaint. Cream? And please help yourself to a chocolate chip muffin. Yes, I baked them this morning. If I’m honest, I was trying to bridge a plot hole to get my words for the day out before you arrived and baking seemed the best way to try and sort it out. One of the tricks Julia Cameron teaches in The Artist’s Way. But let’s pretend I baked them just for you! No, I didn’t get the words, but the muffins are good.

So how are my projects going?

Not too bad. Actually, I have to say, I’m rather chuffed with what has happened since you were last here. I know, time flies. Can’t believe it’s been four months.

The Secret Project? Well, Adam and I finally got around to naming it. Was almost as difficult as naming a child. When it’s your project you only have to satisfy yourself with the name. Here we both had to like it. In true impending parental style we listed all the possible names. The list? I think we ended up with about 30 possible titles. No, I can’t remember them all. Most sucked worse than a hang over 6am Sunday with small kids bouncing on your bed.

We ended up calling it Post Marked: Piper’s Reach. No, Piper’s Reach is the name of the town the characters grew up in. It’s a small coastal town, which is almost as much a character as Ella-Louise and Jude. And during the blog tour we realised how much the town has shaped the narrative, not just in terms of location but also metaphorically. Storms. Security. Escape. And how it is different for each character.

What’s a blog tour? I hadn’t heard of one either until late last year. Think of a band touring to promote their music and then imagine it on the internet and about words, but make it sans groupies, smaller audiences and on the whole far less exciting, though no less exhausting.

How long we were on the road? Too long in some regards, and not long enough in others.  Adam and I learned to underestimate enthusiasm and over estimate the work involved. We stopped in with nine friends to chat, just like we’re doing now. Adam tells me we ‘chatted’ over 12,000 words and answered 42 questions.

How did we feel at the end of it? Exhausted (that’s the second time I’ve said that in less than a minute isn’t it?). The blog tour left me with a weird sense of having lost some of the allure of the project from dissecting it. For three months I’d been writing mostly in isolation and just enjoying the process… then to actually go out and talk about the nuts and bolts of it all. It made me think about it in a whole new way. I’m not sure I’ve totally recovered yet.

Oh, sorry! *embarrassed laugh* The project launched April 10th and is a collection of fictional letters written between two high school friends. Ella-Louise (my character) reaches out to see if she can connect with her best friend Jude after twenty years silence. The letters unfold with the reader finding out how come twenty years has passed without a word and I guess Jude and Ella-Louise get to excavate the past, but filter it through adult sensibilities. The longing and desire is still pretty much circa 1992.

Life imitating art? Well I was a prolific letter writer as a teenager, as was Adam, and while our characters do resemble us as adults and teenagers to some extent, they are pretty much their own people.  Okay, yes! I did write every week in Year 12 to a boy who I was madly in love with so perhaps closer to truth than fiction.

That boy? He’s now my oldest friend. We just celebrated 27 years of friendship.

No, the letters aren’t typed. We’ve handwritten them all and posted them… so it is about as authentic as it comes in the digital age.  Yes, you can read the actual handwritten letters as PDFs on the website. Adam’s created a shoebox to keep all the letters in. There is a typed version on the website for those not willing to tackle our handwriting.

I have no idea how long we’ll be doing this for. Until it finds its own natural conclusion I guess. At this point, I can’t imagine life without Ella-Louise and Jude, and the anticipation of the squeal of the postie’s bike every fortnight.

Another cup of tea. Go on, I’ll have a second with you. And another muffin, they are small after all.

My novella’s going well. I’ve upgraded it to a novel. I know. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous—though there really isn’t anything sublime about last year’s writing drought. I’ve called it Birthed… yes, the same as the short story I penned back in March. Actually, it was the stir created by that short story which gave me the confidence to take the next big step with it.

No, it wasn’t upgrading from novella length. It was realising I had something to write, which someone else really wanted to read. And not just one person, but lots of people. With that new energy I enrolled in the Australian Writers’ Marketplace Online’s Year of the Novel. Yes, I’ve been watching the course for years too, waiting for the right time. I’m ready to jump into writing an extended work; it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like this. And it’s the right tutor for me. I will pen amazing words under Alan Baxter’s tutelage. Yes, they say the master will appear when the student is ready. I know. It’s been five years! But worth the wait.

Now, let me pull out my diary while you finish your tea. What day in September suits?

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Jodi is an editor, publisher and long suffering mystress to the voices in her head, with stories tethered under the umbrella of ‘dark weird shit’ and published in anthologies in Australia, the UK, USA, Canada and Denmark. Founding partner of eMergent Publishing, Jodi is the creative spark behind the conceptual short story anthologies Chinese Whisperings, Literary Mix Tapes and Write Anything's Form and Genre Challenge. Jodi is the 2010 recipient of the Kris Hembury Encouragement Award in recognition of her contribution to the community and status as an emerging artist. She blogs at 1000 Pieces of Blue Sky and tweets (unoriginally) as @jodicleghorn.

4 Responses to “Come In, Have A Seat…”

  1. Adam Byatt says:

    Better get the vacuum cleaner out to suck up the muffin crumbs.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  2. Zena Shapter says:

    What a great idea! Not only the concept, but the handwriting and posting of them. You’re going to get some good material from this!!! :)

    • For me the project has already spawned several additional short stories (one which went on to inspire a short from Adam). I have visions of a YA novel and also an adult novel coming out of this. Adam’s talking about binding all the letters together in an eBook when we’re done.

      I love it… and the love flows on into all areas of my creative life. Something to ponder in my open article later next month.

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