What do you do when you feel like you can’t do anything? You use what you have, to the best of your ability, and go for it.
That’s what 100 Stories for Queensland is all about. Alan Vaarwerk, one of the group of volunteer editors on the project commented this evening, “it’s a great way to do something good with what we’re good at.”
That’s why it has been so quite around here. I’ve been working busily to create the submission framework, put together a team of readers and editors and get the project ‘out there’. The overwhelming generosity continues to bring me to tears.
Tuesday I spent the morning stressed and worried about my parnter getting home from the City where he works (his building is currently under water) After the wall of water which torrented through Toowoomba and then smashed its way through the Lockyer Valley, all I could imagine was a flash flood on the Brisbane river taking out the Goodwill Bridge while he was on it. The relief only subsided slightly when he got home. I exchanged worry about his safety for horror and disbelief as the stories of true extent of the devastation at Grantham and the Lockyer Valley started to filter through. I felt stunned and numb.
Tuesday night a simple tweet, followed by a facebook status, cut through the daze. Trevor Belshaw wrote very simply ‘100 Stories for Queensland?’ I knew I had to say yes. I’d already been thinking about it. It just took someone else thinking the same thing to move it from an idea to an actual project. Greg gave his blessing for us to take up the mantle of 100 Stories for Haiti and 50 Stories for Pakistan and run with it. And that’s what we’ve been doing. Hopefully 100 Stories for Queensland will be something Greg will be proud to have inspired and laid the ground work for. Ironically this project went live on the anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.
Trevor and I have fallen into an easy working relationship which ensures the project runs 24 hours a day. It’s good. He keeps me honest, and makes me laugh. Not to mention the fact he also reminds me sleep is good.
Submissions opened yesterday lunchtime and within 20 minutes the first story landed, followed by another six in the first hour, including one from a NY Times Best Selling author! In the first 24 hours we had 50 submissions. The closing date is not until 28th January and the word continues to filter outward. I can only guess the number of stories which will reach us by then.
We have the exisiting core editorial team from Haiti and Pakistan, Maureen Vincent-Northam, David W Robinson and Nick Daws, returning. Assisting them 13 volunteer readers. In addition to the readers and the core editorial team, we have six editors ready to start in two weeks time.
My greatest thanks go to two wonderful Western Australians – Russell B Farr of Ticonderoga Publications and Tehani Wessely of FableCroft Publications. Russell is working on the front cover and Tehani will do the interior design and layout. For anyone who has worked with me in the past – they know what a stress the front cover always is. To know as the first submissions were landing someone was working on the cover was the greatest relief. Russell did say he’d step aside should Shaun Tan offer to do the front cover and bring with it, the attention which comes with is work, but in my opinion, Russell is high profile! And an utterly generous bloke.
People who know me, or have worked with me, will know how difficult it is for me to accept help. This morning I mentioned to Chris Chartrand that this project is the big ‘letting go’ for me. I simply cannot do it all myself and besides, it’s not ‘my project’. The project belongs to everyone involved and to the people of Queensland. Trevor keeps telling me I have to say yes to every reasonable offer of help which is extended. He claims to have a whip and to know how to use it. So I’m not willing to defy him 🙂
I had assumed typesetting/layout would fall to me, so I cried, big fat teardrops on the keyboard, when Tehani said she would take on this job. Don’t get me wrong – I love typesetting, there is a quiet meditation to it, and an almost addictive edge. But it loomed on the horizon as a huge task at the end of what was going to be three massive weeks. Thank you Tehani… thank you so much.
This is just the beginning of a road paved in selflessness and gratitude. Thank you to all of you who are stepping out with me.
Image by Arman Berkett-Saleh via Facebook. This is the river at 5:10am 13th February, just before reaching the flood peak.