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Piper’s Reach: The Writer and the Reader

Piper’s Reach – The Writer and the Reader

A writing adage you see on various blogs is to write for your ideal reader, the audience you want to read your work. You create in your mind an image of a specific person, male and/or female, the type of person you imagine will enjoy reading your novel. The specific reader in mind, may in fact, be you.

When Jodi Cleghorn (@JodiCleghorn) and I sat down to write the epistolary serial Post Marked: Piper’s Reach (now being edited as an epistolary novel), it presented an interesting dichotomy. The instigation of the No Spoiler Policy (we did not discuss the plot or character development, but rather let the narrative form as an organic process) meant we were thrust into the role as simultaneous writer and reader.

It was unique as Jodi wrote as the character of Ella-Louise and I wrote as the character of Jude; two high school friends reunited by letter after 20 years of silence.

Click here to read about Piper’s Reach – The Project


As each letter was written, posted and received, we had no idea of its content in regards to plot or character. It was the perfect balance between writer and reader. 

We wrote as authors, read it as readers. 

With each letter we would read and reread from different perspectives:

As writers:

  • Looking for the momentum and motivation in the character’s actions and how it moved the plot forward
  • Contemplating different permutations of plot for both characters
  • Establishing back-story and history for each character, events significant to both characters and how it affected the present day.

As readers:

  • We became caught up in the lives of the characters; how their past and present intertwined, split, became a messy entanglement and how they tried to sort it out.
  • We read the voice of each character, how Ella-Louise and Jude articulated their thoughts, what they wrote about and how they expressed it; what they revealed and what they kept hidden.

Jodi asked if I read the letters as the character of Jude or as myself because I was both catalyst and consumer, the writer and the reader. It was hard to separate myself from the narrative of Ella-Louise and Jude, to be solely the reader as each new letter was a revelation of character, plot, motivation and secrets.

There were times when I deliberately distanced myself from the character of Jude to read a letter, to be the reader and not the writer. I let myself be absorbed into the world of Ella-Louise as she revealed it, taking it at face value, rereading it again to further my understanding of who she was and what she wanted.

In the same way there were letters I read intentionally read as the character of Jude to feel the impact of the letter as Ella-Louise wrote to her dearest and most-loved friend.

Engaging with the letter as either writer or reader produced strong emotions, even to the point of tears.

Now we are in the editing phase, we get to experience the narrative of our characters all over again, this time solely as readers. After we have made our notes and compared them we will return to our role as writers and continue fashioning the narrative and our characters.

It lead me back to a question I have asked myself over the last couple of years in regards to writing and reading: Is a reader more interested in the story or the writing?

Is it an either/or, both/and dichotomy? Is the reader more interested in being moved by the story than the power of the words? Or is it the power of the words the more important aspect for the reader?

The power of storytelling versus power of writing with which there is no clear answer. The answer will not be a “Yes” or “No” response but a sliding continuum of responses. For some readers story will trump the writing and for other readers the power of the words will enhance the story and be the focus.

As a writer I aim to balance the power of the story with power of the word. I use words to convey the power and strength of the story, and I want you to be engaged as a reader with the story, drawn in by the power of the words.

Keep an eye for updates on the progress of Post Marked: Piper’s Reach and I hope you enjoy the story.

Dream a Little Dream

People love to dream of what they could achieve.

I dream about what I could achieve as a writer. You may dream about what you can achieve your creative sphere: in music, painting, sculpture, cooking, gardening, craft.

When I began writing three years ago, I didn’t have a dream of what I wanted to achieve. I began to write because it was something that was burning in me to do. As time has progressed, my vision has become clearer in regards to what I want.

I dream of having books published.

I dream of earning passive income through the books I write.

I dream of becoming a known blogger in the areas of writing and creativity.

I dream of seeing my name on the list of nominees for the Miles Franklin Literary Award (a prestigious literary award in Australia).

Recently I wrote down the projects I wanted to complete. Written on the first page of my first moleskine notebook are: 4 novels, 2 novellas (both collaborations, one is multi-media), 2 non-fiction projects, 1 picture book, 1 anthology of short stories.

Beyond the completion of these projects, there will be others to fill their place. More novels, novellas, non-fiction books, picture books, collaborative projects, anthologies, scripts, graphic novels. Plus other things I haven’t even dreamed or contemplated. And then in the “weird, but why not” category: I want to write a book about drumming, writing and spirituality.

Over the washing up (one of my “Thoughtful Spots” as Winnie The Pooh would call it, where I think through plots, ideas, blogs), I dreamed that Post Marked: Piper’s Reach was the break out book of the season. Jodi and I were invited to readings and signings, television show interviews.

That’s a dream.

But how do you go about achieving your dreams?

Some flirt with the idea of following their dreams but never act on it. Their dreams fade away and waft away like a fart on the breeze.

Others begin with gusto and vigour but they become wisps of ghosts, withered husks, as their seeds wither in the ground. Their dreams never come to fruition because they never followed through.

Dream with me a little more.

How do you achieve your dreams?

1. Make Plans

Dreams require planning. Without planning and commitment, dreams will only remain in the imagination.

John Lennon wrote: “Life is what happens to you/While you’re busy making other plans.”


Life involves planning. There is room for spontaneity. Between the hours of 3pm and 6pm on the fifth Sunday of the month. Book it in.

Let me counter this statement with a proverb: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”  Proverbs 25:28

Go and get a pen and come back. Now.

You’re back? Good.

Write down what you want to achieve, no matter how simple or unrealistic they seem. Putting it down on paper begins to solidify the intent and instill the need to be in control of your dreams.

I’ll see it when I believe it.

2. Set a Timetable

It’s no good to make plans and then use the paper to wipe your bum. You need to timetable your projects.

How long will each project take? How long do you want it to take? What time do you have available to work on a project? When can you make time? Do you want to write a novel in a year or 3 months?

Break it down into monthly, weekly and daily targets.

Prioritise your projects, but allow for flexibility.

And make sure you finish what you start.

3. Be Accountable

A little wisdom again from the Book of Proverbs (11:14): For lack of guidance a nation fails, but many advisers make victory sure.

Developing a good network of creative (or non-creative) people can keep you accountable, keeping you on track to achieve your goals. Have them check up on you on a regular basis.

Lastly, dreaming is easy. Making them a reality is hard work.

What are your dreams? How do you go about fulfilling them?

A Writer’s Emotions

Prompted by a previous post The Reasons Why, a question was raised that is specifically focused at writers: What does it feel like when you write?
As with any creative endeavour, the creative process is a Hydra, a labyrinth, a slippery bar of soap and having to sort out the pile of electrical cables that have somehow entangled themselves behind the television cabinet (all electrical cables, speaker leads and instrument cables are sentient beings that tangle themselves in knots even when coiled correctly – for the non-musician, think of a plate of spaghetti).
Each creative person has their method, but at the heart of it, what does that person FEEL when creating.
Here’s what a few twitter friends had to say:
WookiesGirl Its the most frustrating and yet fulfilling thing I do.
LilyMulholland  to get those people out of my head…it’s getting pretty crowded in there…
Emma Newman Much better.
Helen Howell I’ve just finished writing a flash for my blog for friday, and it feels good. Just did a book review and I kinda feel pleased when I see the effort I have put into it up on the screen. When I write I become transported to the world I create. I not just see and hear my characters, I feel what they feel – writing is more than a therapy it’s a magical experience.

How do I feel when I write?

My other creative endeavour is music. I play drums. I equate writing and drumming/music, two artistic endeavours, as sharing the same process. There is the “rehearsal” phase, developing craft and technique (the drafting and editing phases), and there is the “performance” phase (the finished product).

The rehearsal phase is often a dog’s breakfast, splattered from one end of the kitchen to the other. Whatever you put your hand to is smeared rancid custard. It’s gruelling, tiresome, frustrating, painful and makes you want to take out your eyeballs with a crayon.

But there are times in the practice room when rudimental exercises become meditative. You find a flow, a rhythm, a beat.

Then there are moments when playing music is sublime. Those moments during a live performance when every part connects seamlessly from drums to guitar to bass to vocals to keys. You carefully execute the parts you hear in your head, translated into your hands.

However, to make roses bloom, (to mix my metaphors even further) you have to get your hands filthy dirty and smelling of manure.

How do I feel when I write? I feel a spectrum of emotions from giddy excitement of a new idea to the joy of the first few drafts. Then comes the hard work of shaping and refining. It can suck the life out of you and the story. Think of fingernails dragged down a chalkboard.


There is a certain smugness and self satisfaction when a story is as perfect as you can make it.

And it feels good.

How do you feel when you write?