Tuesday 16 December 2014


Saying goodbye and thank you to your hosts is just good manners. So, any reader who stumbled across me over the years, consider this that. ~Duane Dudek
Henry Sheppard
circa 1988
That time has come for me, as it must for all. Over the last ten years I have struggled with declining health. Included on the roster of my enemies have been asthma, diabetes, leukemia and eczema. I have had 24 separate operations for skin cancer, not counting hundreds of applications of nitrogen spray. I cough almost constantly.
   I haven't been able to sleep lying down for months; lying down triggers more coughing. What sleep I do get is taken while sitting upright in an armchair. Or while dozing in front of the computer.
   I stopped going for checkups with the oncologist years ago. If I'm out of remission now, I won't be going through chemotherapy a second time. Once was enough.*

I'm not complaining. I consider I've been blessed. Knowing that my time is coming to an end is a gift. I know so many who died suddenly; no time to put things right before departing.
   Over recent years, I have used the mornings to publish this blog. It's been fun. I've met so many delightful people! Thank you one and all.
   But now I need the mornings for other things.
   When I first learned about the leukemia and the chemotherapy, I prayed for five more years. That passed in September 2012. Everything since has been a bonus.
   When I completed chemotherapy and learned I was in remission, I set myself to do as much as I could, as well as I could, for as long as I could. I tried to be helpful. My apologies for all the things I am leaving incomplete. And my thanks to everyone who befriended me via this blog.

* Ah, such brave words! The reality is that once the discomfort of the symptoms outweighs your horrible memory of the treatment, you buckle under. I started chemotherapy (take 2) in September 2015 and graduated in January 2016. The leukaemia is in remission, but the damage to my bone marrow almost outweighs the gain.


Unknown said...

Henry, this final blog post has come too soon, I thought there would be more time. You are determined to go out at the top of your game.

Your passion for writing and screenwriting in particular has made the writing world richer.

You are a private person, and have rarely alluded to your childhood in an abusive home and the poverty you earned your way out of. You speak about your wife Rainee with great love and affection and I know you also love your garden. I met you at work where your competence was legendary and your hatred for hypocrisy a thorn in management’s side.

You loved intelligent discussions about writing, screenwriting in particular. You cherished the screenwriting books but your method of reading fiction was to tear out each finished page and bin it. An original and effective method of making sure you never lost your place.

We pioneered new procedures at work, which given the opaque rules were a nightmare, and only achievable due your superlative technical writing skills.

You gave me advice about my manuscripts which made me strive to be a better writer.

Your final in the Premier’s Award for Unpublished Manuscript was a huge achievement for the renegade writer of “Play the Devil”, a searing indictment of church practice thinly disguised as a novel. It demonstrated the distance quality can send a controversial work of art.

You wrote screenplays and were involved in filmmaking around Adelaide.

You have generously found the energy to help Adelaide screenwriters, and screenwriters around the world, with wide-ranging screenwriting articles, in-depth interviews and thorough book reviews. Spiced with your unique wry humour and Aussie approach, your blog has made top-ten lists. Never monetised, it has provided advice, inspiration and celebration of movies for any and every serious screenwriter

You have chosen to close the blog with dignity and I respect you for your decision and grieve for it.

Adelaide and the screenwriting world in general will be poorer for your absence.

Ed Love said...

Thanks, Henry, for your wonderful blog over the years. I'm only a recent convert, but I'm very grateful for the interesting links you've shared.

Best of luck for the future, however it unfolds.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great posts, Henry.

As sad as it is to see this steady flow of information come to an end, it's great that you're focusing on what's really important now.

So get out there, enjoy as much as you can, and indulge in the occasional piece of pie when the opportunity presents itself.

Take care.

Anne Flournoy said...

Oh Henry! I first read this farewell post at a rest stop off the highway over lunch yesterday and was reduced to sobbing uncontrollably. I wrote you a comment on my phone through tears then and there but it apparently didn't post.

You have been a wonderful friend to me and to my work and an incredible force of good creating this broad and deep resource for screenwriters and filmmakers of all stripes. That you've carried on this selfless service, cranking out informative, inspiring and deliciously relevant blog posts many days of every week for years while never even alluding to the conditions under which you were suffering is in itself astonishing.

I am moved beyond what I can express with words by your dignity and your generosity. I loved Kathy Smart's beautiful comment which expressed so much of what I want to say. The internet will be a darker and lonelier place without Adelaide Screenwriter.

With deep gratitude to you for all that you've done for me and for the screenwriting community and beyond, I send my fervent wishes for another miracle for you and by extension for Rainee.

Michael Zeitz said...

Henry, I'm so happy to have been one of those stumblers, and I thankyou for your dedication to this blog which has been such a rich resource. See you soon, my friend.

Neil said...

This blog has been a crazy good resource. My twitter feed will immediately feel poorer when it's gone. Thanks genuinely for it.