A rumination on the ramifications of Medium clapping

Photo by Guillermo Latorre on Unsplash

I was recently mortified to discover that I had neglected to clap a poem which had moved me deeply. Worse than no claps — I thought I may have left only one, lonely, solitary clap. Ouch.

I only discovered my omission because the poet was sufficiently upset to pen another piece about the experience of being given one clap for a deeply personal and important poem that she had poured her love into.

Well, I felt like a brute.

(Update: it wasn’t me! I’m not the one-hand clapper. Huge sigh of relief … Nevertheless, I meant to give 50 claps…


A love song, performed by the author

Photo by James Hose Jr on Unsplash

A chance encounter on the train,
Shared umbrella in the rain.
When will I see you again?
Nobody knows.

Sunshine and spring is here,
Walking, talking on the pier.
Is this going anywhere?
Nobody knows.

Been round this track a few times,
I’m guessing you have too;
Let’s take a chance together …

Red wine and dance till dawn,
Walking barefoot on the lawn;
How good I feel this morning,
Nobody knows.

Long summer lunch with friends,
Hoping that this never ends;
I’d tell the world how I feel about you, but —
Everybody knows.

Been round this track a…


Confessions of a non-driver

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Writing books is no way for a rugged Australian male to make a manly living.

We’re not even talking gritty, testosterone-fuelled novels here — about shearing sheep or surfing that big wave. No, we’re talking schoolbooks.

Thus my Aussie alter ego is not a nerdy author: he drives a big truck for a living. When we pass an impressive prime mover on the road — shiny chrome, maybe towing two or more trailers — my wife may enquire whether it’s as large as my truck. The answer is always ‘No.’

There is much to be said for patient and forgiving…


Endings and beginnings — a Marg Jansen story (8)

‘Guuguubarra, King of the Bush’ © 2021 Steve Williams

Sunday morning starts cool and overcast. For the first time this year, it really feels like autumn. Day doesn’t break: it just arrives, sullen and reluctant. Kookaburra sits quietly in the grey nondescript dawn.

I’m sitting on my porch wrapped in a blanket, cradling a coffee, wondering how the trapping is going. The answer comes soon enough.

The crack of the .303 makes me jump. Choughs flap off in noisy black-and-white alarm.

Rosa joins me on the porch steps, gives me a nudge with her shoulder and an encouraging smile. ‘It will soon be over, hun. …


Musical reminiscence in a time of pandemic

A few kilometres outside Castlemaine, Victoria, lies the village of Guildford, population 333.

Castlemaine itself is a quietly alternative rural city, population just under 7,000. Understated 21st-century hipster chic sits well with faded 19th-century Gold Rush glory.

Guildford is a ten-minute drive out of town, where the Midland Highway – a modest, two-lane thoroughfare – crosses the Loddon River. It’s the sort of place where householders have a stall at their gate with fresh-laid eggs or potted plants and an honesty box.


Incompatible ethics collide — a Marg Jansen story (7)

‘Bush Dawn’ © 2021 Steve Williams

Sunrise through the sheokes. I sit on the porch, nursing a mug of coffee, and enjoy the warmth of the rays on my face.

A magpie family alights on the fence and carols, announcing its clan’s strength and territorial right. Maybe also hoping for a few tidbits from the human, who seems to like this sort of thing.

Up in the big River Red Gum, a kookaburra winds himself up to a mad peal of laughter, answered in kind by his spouse. …


Seeds of unrest — a Marg Jansen story (6)

‘Trouble Ahead’ © 2021 Steve Williams

I don’t have much to do with Aaron for a couple of days. It suits me fine.

He checks the traps as soon as the sun is up, texts me a terse progress report, then takes himself off for the day. I know that he visits Glenda daily, and I assume he has other business to attend to in the area.

He shows up for evening meals, exchanges a few polite but non-committal words, then disappears in the direction of the orchard. No more music, no more beer; no more intense conversations round the campfire.

Emmi seems to have been…


An editor’s perspective on a much-bandied word

Photo by mari lezhava on Unsplash

We all know what editing is, right? I mean, there it is, in many an application: the Edit menu. Any fool can edit.

To a professional editor, this can seem mildly vexatious at times. I guess neurosurgeons would feel the same way if every app had a ‘neurosurgery’ button; plumbers would feel a little undervalued if Word had a ‘plumbing’ pull-down.

Perhaps that’s why we editors, professional and amateur, can get a bit uppity at times. Even pompous.

I recently read a Medium article from a publication owner, bemoaning how authors should be much more grateful when their work was…


Campfire liaisons — a Marg Jansen story (5)

Photo by Joris Voeten on Unsplash

Aaron declines the offer of a bed in the farmhouse. He prefers to set up his rooftop tent on the Landcruiser. It looks cosy, if basic.

After dinner, Oliver and I withdraw to the office to discuss the week’s deliveries to restaurants down in Mudgee, Orange and Bathurst. We also have an agent over in Sydney, who collects veggie boxes, eggs and meat packs from us on Fridays, for distribution to urban households.

By selling to consumer ‘farm clubs’, not to wholesale, we get a fair price for our produce, while subscribers get top-quality, farm-fresh produce. …


Aaron settles in — a Marg Jansen story (4)

‘Teamwork’ © 2021 Steve Williams

Aaron arrives on Monday ready for work, his battered Landcruiser pulling a trailer stacked with gear. I cajole him into joining us for lunch.

Lunchtime is the main social occasion of our farm life. I feed my workers well. Or rather: Rosa, our plump, cheery, dark-eyed cook, feeds them with opulent abundance.

She and the farm manager, Oliver — a tall, spare Canadian with a Wyatt Earp moustache — are the only two paid staff on Forked Creek Farm. Everyone else here, besides me, has come for a working holiday. They’re hoping to learn new skills and make new friends…

Steve Williams

Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Aussie tales of banjos, bees, boats, beaches and the bush.

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