are always asked what they want to be when they grow up. Ignoring
the inherent implication that your job should somehow define you,
it is a good way of gauging your child's aspirations and personality.
Are they already the ambitious type who see themselves as astronauts
or brain surgeons? Are they prematurely power-hungry and see themselves
as future world leaders? Are they the practical types that wish
for futures as train drivers or plumbers? Are they creative, yet
a little delusional, and see no better future for themselves than
somehow becoming a squirrel? For me the answer was always the same:
"I want to be an author". This said I was creative, shy
(preferring writing alone to speaking to people) and no doubt inspired
by my Dad (who was also a writer).
I wanted to write children's books, but that's only because I was
a child myself and those were therefore the books I liked to read!
Grown up books looked so boring in comparison; where were the pictures?
I was a big fan of Roald Dahl (whose birthday I also share) and
his books always came with those wonderful Quentin Blake illustrations.
Grown up books didn't even seem to have interesting covers (although
this was before the creation of Harry Potter and the whole notion
of having children's books that were also aimed at adults - but
the less said about that the better)!
got older, I moved on from Roald Dahl, through Enid Blyton, Judy
Blume, the Point Horror series and eventually onto those proper
grown up books I used to think looked so dull. Specifically I developed
a taste for contemporary fiction (you can find a list of my top
10 favourite books here) and realised
that those were the type of books I would actually like to write.
children are asked to write stories from time to time and it was
something I always revelled in. I'd scrawl away and write 13 pages
worth in the time it took most classmates to write 4. The one story
that sticks in my mind from my time at primary school is one I wrote
in year 6 called 'The Magic Hole' (double-entendre intended - I
was at that kind of age!). It was like a cross between Alice In
Wonderland and that part in The Simpsons where Homer imagines the
land of chocolate. I know it included an eagle made of fried eggs;
complete with illustration. My writing's definitely gotten less
surreal since those days.
story I remember writing at Secondary School was part of my GCSE
coursework. We had to write a short story that was in some way inspired
by our recent work experience placements. I'd worked in a book shop
(despite requesting a library) and managed to use that scenario
to crowbar in what was essentially X-Files fan fiction. I wasn't
actually aware of the existence of fan fiction yet, but I was a
big fan of The X-Files and wanted to use the characters in my story.
my time at University I started writing a lot of poetry (some of
which you can read here), though I also
discovered fan fiction. Fan fiction's often sneered at for being
a lazy use of someone else's characters; a form of wish-fulfilment;
and/or an excuse for smut. There is a vast amount of badly written
fan fiction (and a hell of a lot of smut), but there's some good
stuff out there too. The success of Fifty Shades Of Grey has obviously
shown that fan fiction can lead to success and widespread recognition,
rather than just niche appeal, though it arguably hasn't done much
to promote the actual writing quality of a lot of fan fiction (judging
by the reviews I've read - I have no remote desire to actually read
it myself). Personally I found that fan fiction was a good motivational
tool for getting me writing - partly because there are pre-defined
characters that you already care about, but also because you have
a ready-made audience. The community aspect of it is a definite
positive. I wrote more fiction than I had done in a long time.
I continued to write a decent amount of poetry and went on to win
the staff poetry competition at the University of Worcester for
two consecutive years. My short story writing, however, started
to gradually dwindle. Instead I discovered blogging; arguably less
creative, but still a good outlet for my thoughts and feelings.
Also during this time, through a fortuitous and surreal set of circumstances,
I came to be in touch with one of my musical idols: Cerys Matthews.
I got to set up and run her MySpace site and then took over the
running of her official website as well. As part of my role as her
webmistress, I was asked to write a biography for use on her management's
website. It wasn't the type of thing I was used to writing, but
I enjoyed the challenge and was pleased with what I produced. I
was even more pleased when it was then used in one of her tour programmes.
It wasn't the first time I'd seen my writing in print (I've had
various poems published in anthologies by Poetry Now and Poetry.com),
but it was definitely a proud moment for me. As the biography's
now out of date, you can't find it on the official websites any
more, but you can still read it here
- it starts towards the end of the page, beginning 'Cerys Matthews
is a Cardiff-born singer and songwriter...'.
jump-start to my writing came in 2009 when there was a competition
being run through my place of work. It was for any form of creativity
based around the topic of libraries. I contemplated the writing
of a poem, as they'd previously done me well in workplace competitions,
but I fancied a new challenge and decided to write a short story
instead. Although my fiction writing hadn't dried up and I'd made
a couple of recent attempts at starting novels, I'd not actually
written and completed a short story in quite a long time. Having
a deadline was the necessary motivation I needed and I was pleased
with my runners-up placing (even though winning would have been
2009, I've gone on to write a few more short stories and poems,
as well as making a start on a novel. Unlike other novels I've started
writing and not gotten very far with, I feel a sense of dedication
to this one that I've never felt before. However, I still struggle
with self-discipline and motivation. The setting up of this website
is a way of trying to combat that.
isn't my first personal website. I first set one up in about 2000,
just after I'd learnt how to make them at university. It was...
how can I put it?... colourful! The word 'gaudy' also springs to
mind, but hey, this was back in 2000! Prime time of awful geocities
sites with multiple animated gifs and frighteningly loud background
music that you couldn't turn off. My site was at least free from
background music and only had the one animated gif (correction:
it had 3 - I forgot about the 2 spinning disco balls - the shame!).
In particular it was defined by its pink colour scheme and the cartoon
picture of me on the front page. Thank goodness my web design skills
have moved on since those days... *ahem*. Behold the monstrosity:
(the cartoon Chantal
waved and the disco balls span around - classy!)
I did create
a more toned down version at a later date, albeit still very pink.
As you can tell, it was never intended as a particularly serious
site. Although I did use it as a means of sharing my poetry, it
was more predominantly a way of sharing my photos and honouring
my favourite musicians, actors and actresses.
So why have
I now decided to set up a new personal website, 12 years later?
Well, as I already mentioned, I need incentive and motivation to
encourage me to write more and to finally achieve the goal I set
for myself as a young child: to be a novelist. If I can use this
website, and the blog in particularly, to build up some kind of
potential audience for my writing, I think it'll give me the incentive
I need to actually sit down and put pen to paper (or fingers to
keyboard). So, no pressure or anything, it's only my childhood dream,
but if you could read some of my short stories
and/or poetry and then, if you like them,
pop over to my blog and harrass me to get my
novel written, I'd greatly appreciate it.