EOFY – everybody’s doing it!
Well, here it is the end of the financial year and I’m still going flat out – enjoying life and looking back on the past 12 months. It’s been quite a ride.
I must apologise to those of you who keep checking up on my website, only to find I haven’t put up any new posts. I’ve been rather preoccupied in a new venture – writing books!Â When I began this journey a year ago, I didn’t factor writing books into the plan – it just kind of happened … as things do.
I’d been talking to Wendy Gordon for some time about tying Terry Gordon (her ex-husband and good mate) down to do a yarn for Capital News.
As it turned out, we realised there was so much more than a Cap News yarn to be told on the life and times of TG – so I rambled into his driveway on the Gold Coast early in December and just over two weeks later, we had the first draft of the book written.
We’re still working on the finished product, which we feel will be released in the new year. Terry has a very busy time ahead in 2017 as he’s bringing Jett Williams, daughter of the late, great Hank Williams, to Australia in October-November and will be too consumed with that project to launch his book.
But there’s every chance it might be ready to be unleashed in time for the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival. Stay tuned for updates on that. There’s a belly laugh on every page – guaranteed!
My old mate Bernie Blanch
When I got back to Tamworth in January, my dear old friend Bernie Blanch, a retired farmer now in his mid-80s, had another project for me.
For the past six years or so I’ve been helping Bernie write books. He had written his own story called Wheat, Wool, Work and Worry – the life of a farmer – before I’d met him.
This was our first joint project and it sold really well for him. A true local production, printed in Tamworth by AM Printing, owned by my good mates Sandy and Sue McIntosh.
Then his family talked him into writing the life story of his father-in-law, the late Jim Phelan, who was a very community-minded man involved in many key local projects.
Then Bernie decided to write the history of Attunga and district, telling the stories of various local families who settled in the area and made it their home.
After that, he wrote another book, Go West, Old Man! It told the story of Bernie, in his mid-50s, buying a property, Cuttabunda, out in the western districts of NSW.
Bernie and I have spent many pleasurable hours talking and getting to know each other. He’s a remarkable man. He was 88 just recently and I’m now almost finished editing his first book of poetry. Yep. Had never written a poem in his life until a few years ago. He’s a champion.
Errol and Ray, but wait, there’s more
Also during January at home in Tamworth I ran into my mate Errol Gray, who is writing his biography – and it’s a corker. I’ve done some editing on that, and I’m now waiting on the next instalment. Errol mentioned me to his mate, Ray Essery (of Naked Poets fame) – aka the Mullumbimby Bloke – and now I’m almost finished Ray’s biography. It will be released very soon.
I have another three commissions for biographies, with a possible fourth or fifth to get stuck into in the next few months, so you can see I haven’t been idle. And I write at least two or three feature stories each month for Country Music Capital News. And any other writing job that pops up, such as the 2017 Toyota Hats Off to Country Festival program.
It’s funny, you know. I’ve always loved writing people stories. That was the best part of my job at The Northern Daily Leader for all those years, and now I’m doing that for a living – only on a larger scale.
Upgrading my skills
When I worked at The Leader as a sub-editor, I had a bit to do with Quark – a desktop publishing program – but not as much as I should have, considering the path I’ve taken in recent times.
For me, computers were always basically glorified typewriters, so I hadn’t bothered learning too much about all the bells and whistles, merely enough to get by.
Recently, my beautiful niece Rebecca Mack pointed out I should be using a program called Adobe InDesign, which had also been recommended to me by graphic designer/musician/clever bugger Glen Hannah, who’s the husband of Felicity Urquhart.
As I believe this book-writing caper is the direction I’m heading in, I bit the bullet and have enrolled to do a three-day course, Fast Track to Adobe InDesign, at a training centre in Brisbane.
I’ve booked and paid for my place in the course, which runs from Monday, July 10 to Wednesday, July 12. I’m looking for a caravan park in the Brisbane area, close to the CBD, if there is such a thing. Hello, Google, here I come!
Travelling on hold for now
As I have all these books to get on with, it’s fortunate for me they’re all mainly in the same area – from Mullumbimby to the Gold Coast. I know. There are worse places to be stuck in the winter time, so I’ll just grin and bear it.
I was planning on a trip to Birdsville and then on to Alice Springs, but I don’t think that will happen this year. I’m in the fortunate position of having my house rented out for the next 12 months, so I’m free to do as I please. Alice and Birdsville will still be there next year, but while the work is here, I’ll just get stuck in and do it. And hopefully, I’ll be able to do some more regular blogs.
This is only a small catch-up, but at least it will give you an idea of what I’m up to in my ramblings …