Tag Archives: Queensland

Japan earthquake stories

When a torrent of water swept over much of Queensland this summer I was able to assist the people affected, in a small way, by donating books to Writers on Rafts and the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal. It wasn’t the same as donning the gumboots and helping with the clean-up but it was something.

Watching the Japan disaster left me feeling helpless and torn on several levels. The devastation was immense. The repercussions unthinkable. As mentioned in a previous post, I have flights booked to Tokyo in 10 week’s time. Part of me still thinks we should turn up and help the locals by spending tourist dollars. Another part has a deep fear of nuclear radiation/fallout/pollution that dates back to the ’80s and movies like The Day After*. I’d never forgive myself if my family travelled to Tokyo and my children’s health suffered in any way.

Besides, friends told me a recent flight from Tokyo to Melbourne had to detour to Osaka just to collect bottled water and meals. If things are that grim in Tokyo I believe tourists should stay away for the time being and let the locals try to achieve some form of normality, rather than placing extra demands on a very polite and generous population.

So, what can I do to help? I’ve purchased the Songs for Japan fundraising album, which is a start. I’m also keeping an eye out for Quakebook which is a collection of stories from around the globe about the personal impact of the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear emergency. The graphic novel written about the residents of New Orleans after Cyclone Katrina was extremely powerful. I suspect Quakebook will be similarly moving – and a reminder of how stories connect us across countries and cultures.

In the meantime, here’s a song written for Japan that has become the Quakebook theme.

*Little wonder Cormac McCarthy’s The Road gave me nightmares.

Spasmodic blogging

Yes, Thunder Road has been beckoning… but being drowned out amid the clamour of other goings on.

Firstly, the floods. As with the February 2009 bushfires, I’ve found it difficult to focus on other tasks with this disaster going on. The vast areas underwater in Queensland, New South Wales and now Victoria are almost impossible to comprehend. Lives and landscapes are being rewritten. The repercussions will be substantial and ongoing, long after the stories fade from front pages and current affairs bulletins.

I followed the flooding on Twitter, where citizen reporting came to the fore. As a journo, I know that covering a flood is exceedingly difficult. Once roads are closed you need air transport – and then it’s not always possible to find a safe landing site. Water takes out power supplies and telephone lines. Mobile phones have limited battery time. Making contact with witnesses (and newsrooms) becomes nigh on impossible. In this instance, Tweeting made everyone with a charged phone or web access a reporter. There were constant updates with the #qldfloods hashtag when media organisations couldn’t tell the whole story. It was compelling to watch.

I follow various authors on Twitter, several of whom are Queensland based. I watched as authors began auctioning their books, services or company for flood-charities and I’ve jumped on board the Queensland Writers’ Centre initiative, Writers on Rafts, to offer any support I can. It’s brilliant to see the writing community pitching in this way and a lesson in how things could have been done after the fires. (I know of several authors who did unpaid book tours after the fires but there was no co-ordinated charity effort like this that I know of.)

Shifting from floods, I’m on the cusp of entering a minimum six-month project at the website where I work as content manager. I’m reviewing job applications and doing other preparatory work and wondering if I’ll get to be an author at all in coming months.

That’s a bit of a bummer as the ideas have been coming thick and fast lately and I have several projects under way in one form or another. Maybe I need a renaissance-style patron to keep the wolves from the door. With a new year under way I do feel the (self-imposed) pressure to finish a new book. Realistically, that’s a long way off. And Five Parts Dead isn’t even six months old yet. Chillax, Tim.

For those of you that follow the saga of Mr Bump on these pages, the good news is that he’s still in one piece – touch wood – with one public holiday on the near horizon. Hmmmm. Better assume a crash-landing position.

Hopefully 2011 will find its rhythm and semi-regular blogging will resume soon.

Reading: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Listening to: The Jezabels, Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and The Promise
Watching: Mad Men series 1, Man Vs Wild re-runs, Modern Family re-runs.
Mood: Pensive.