I FINALLY made it to Ty Newydd Writers' Centre!
This isn’t a joke about the lack of trains from the South-West of Wales to the North of Wales and the circuitous route I had to take to get there at all. Honestly…
It is more about my becoming a writer at the tender age of (age has been deleted for vanity reasons) and embarking upon a completely new career.
Ha! What an idiot!
Or was I?
Well yes, I was. But it turned out alright in the end. Well, so far anyway…
First I had to write deep poetry – some of which is so far beyond abysmal that I believe if I go to Hell it will be an ongoing reading of my own odious odes.
Then I wrote some short stories – these weren’t too bad, there’s one about a cardigan that’s passable.
A few pantos. Oh no you didn’t… oh yes I…. they were even worse than this. So I said to the horse ‘Why the long face?’ etc.
Then I tried my hand at some Adult Fiction. Not the erotic stuff. Just the everyday novel stuff. But no, no it wasn’t for me.
Eventually, on a long walk on a cliff path, literally on the edge, I had an epiphany of sorts. I should write for children! YES. That was not only where my heart really belonged it was also one of the only options left!
Since pulling myself back from the brink (I wasn’t suicidal, I’m just trying to write dramatically) I have gone on to have my book for 7-9s, ‘Elen’s Island’ published by Firefly Press in 2015 and next April I have a Middle Grade called ‘Gaslight’ coming out. It’s set in Victorian Cardiff and is a dark and scary mystery, also published by Firefly Press and supported by a Writers’ Bursary from Literature Wales. I also have a MG ghost story called ‘Seaglass’ which has been shortlisted for the Wells Festival of Literature Children’s Story Competition this year.
So that’s me…. until Ty Newydd.
You can look at the photo of the house to see how stunning it is. What that doesn’t tell you is that you can see the mountains from the garden. The sea is a glittering necklace beyond. There is birdsong in the air, history in the walls, quirkiness all around and comfort, laughter (lots of) and other writers.
I sat in an attic room with the skylight ajar watching the gentle rain falling softly outside the window. Apparently there was a heatwave on the other side of the country but as far as I was concerned they could keep it. This was just perfect.
Our tutors for the week were the immensely talented Lucy Christopher – I’ve just finished reading ‘The Killing Woods’, completely gripping and like Barry Cunningham, I didn’t guess either! – and the equally immensely talented Marcus Sedgwick.
‘The Book of Dead Days’ is my current reading material and I already have a favourite line, ‘He felt old and tired and fat, because he was’. Ha!
Both tutors were thoroughly delightful. So approachable and friendly and phew! To all of it. I didn’t feel like a spanner or a plank as I still so often do. I just felt comfy. For people who know me this is an unusual state of being for me as I tend to be an accomplished worrier.
There is something about the place that seeps into your bones. It welcomes you with its labyrinthine stairs and turrets. It cwtches you in.
It taught me a lot of things. That it is okay to switch off from ‘real life’ to dedicate time to my writing. That I am not all that weird for wanting to do just that. That I still have a huge amount to learn (thank God!). That North Wales could very definitely take on South-West Wales for beauty, inspiration and charm (have booked a holiday there already). That I need to learn Welsh (have finally taken myself onto a fast-track course – wish me luck). That we are all story-tellers and that stories are one of the most important components of my life. That Tony, the chef, should have his own television series. That I need to go on another course at Ty Newydd! My only regret is that I didn’t go sooner.
The whole career change has been a huge learning experience for me. And I mean HUGE. But it is with the support of Ty Newydd and Literature Wales, the lovely tutors and staff, the time and space and energy there that has really made me realise what an important path I’ve chosen. It’s a place where Literature is respected in all its forms. It’s a very special place. Very special.
Highly recommended. So, so highly recommended. Did I say I highly recommend it?
And there’s one more thing (she says like Columbo) …
GO THERE! GO! REALLY! GO!