Hello readers! I’m so happy to bring you this post today by author Chantal Gadoury. She’ll talk about her path toward writing . . . and eventually becoming an author!
“What I did for the love of…. Writing”
The True Story of Chantal and her Love Affair with Writing
I remember first writing in second grade. We would write each page with a few sentences and leave space for our crayon-drawn illustrations. My first book ever was “A Trip to New Jersey” where I wrote a story about spending a weekend with my Dad’s family, playing legos and sega with my cousin Adam and how much fun it was to ride in the car with my Dad, Mom and my little sister Carrine. I remember how proud I was to have this fantastic finished product and showing it to my Mom. It was an amazing feeling to have something that I made, with my name on it: Chantal Gadoury.
In third grade, we had to create our own “Lyle Lyle, the Crocodile” stories. I think it was more for our cursive skills, but it was still a lot of fun; a way to set our creative minds to a story plotline. Mine was about Lyle being a star for a while – replacing the dog from “Rugrats.” It was really from that point forward, my writing affair was set to motion. Before my elementary days, my Mom would regularly take me to the James V. Brown Library (every Saturday) – and we’d collect as many books as our arms could carry. I was dazzled by the covers of her romance novels, imagining they were “real life” Disney characters. I think that’s really where my love for everything romance and writing came from; those precious moments my Mom spent with me.
I always had a notebook or a book with me – Always. If we went on a car ride, went to a restaurant, went to the grocery store – you name it, I usually had one or the other with me. (Even when I went away to college, I took an entire box of novels with me, just for comforts sake. There is something comforting about having the books that hold your closest and dearest friends.) When I was in fourth grade, I wrote an entire continuation of “Titanic” and when my little sister got a bit bigger, I would cut up our coloring books and make new books for her. When I was fourteen, I began to write stories from morning to the middle of the night. During those summer months alone, I wrote about 3-4 big major stories. (And to me, big major stories were like 20-30 pages.) I was so proud of myself, and really felt like I was a real writer. It was then that I even felt teachers started to take a second glance towards my writing. My 8th grade teacher asked to see some of my stories and told my Mom I was a great writer for my age. I was invited to participate in the Literary Magazine (which was brand new to Muncy at the time) and I really started to feel important; like I had found something that could be completely mine. This boost of confidence led me to write a 123 page story about the anime “Inuyasha” – in 3 parts!
I was always reading; I can remember a time I was so engrossed in reading I hadn’t even heard the teacher tell us to line up to leave, and it seemed to follow me throughout life. I’ve always been engrossed in the book that I’m reading – and I always had the dream to have someone else feel the same way about my novels. I’ve always wanted someone to pick up my book, and fall in love with my characters – to take something powerful away; to feel cherished and important. When it came time to pick colleges, I was going to go for English Education. I had been so positively influenced by my own English Teachers that I really felt strongly about trying to have the same impact myself. When I went to Susquehanna though, I had only been accepted into the English Department. After a semester of taking a few British Literary classes and American Literary, I knew it wasn’t what I had in mind. Instead of reading about the great authors, I found myself wanting to be a great author. With the help and support of my SU friends and my family, I changed my major to Creative Writing. I was really excited and started to take writing classes right away: poetry, non-fiction, short story .. etc. It was a different experience to not be one of the best writers in the class. So many of my classmates were gifted with an eloquence I had never seen or heard before. I can recall one classmate in particular who just had a way of reading her poetry; I was completely transfixed. I think I went through a very awkward stage of my writing life there at Susquehanna. I was trying to find my voice as a writer. I wanted to be like everyone else in the room – writing about realism; things that could happen, things that had happened – where as, in High School, I had spent countless days with my friends writing fanfiction and journals. We wrote about fantasy worlds and vampires; Gundams and romance. It was very different from what I had been used to for so many years. Writing about myself or realistic stories was a struggle. I felt almost like I was pulling teeth for words. I was very envious of my classmates in their own successes and how easy it seemed for them to write fantastic pieces.
I took a novel class my junior semester, in which many of my classmates were going to write about historical events, mysterious and murder or relationships issues. I decided that I wanted to write a novel about the myth story of Persephone and Hades. I had first heard of the story in 7th grade, in an English class, and I was completely in love with the dark love story. I had spent much of my reading hours over retellings of fairy-tales and I wanted to try my own hand at it. Without knowing it, I had begun t o write what would be my first novel “Seven Seeds of Summer.” Four years later, I was speaking to a publisher about making it into a book.
“Allerleirauh” was a novel I began in a Children and Young Adult class at SU. We had been assigned to write a children or young adult story, and I knew this was the story I wanted to try my hand at. At the time, the story had not developed in the way I had wished for it – and there’s an unwritten saying towards writing – there is a time and place for each story. You’ll know when it’s the right time to tell the right story – and for “Allerleirauh,” it just wasn’t the right time. I graduated college in 2011, and busied myself in jobs unrelated to my major. While my other classmates went on to get their masters, I had too much doubt in my writing to feel the need to continue with it. I got a job at a beauty store, and then a bank and eventually to a tech school answering telephone calls. It’s definitely not what I wanted for myself as a writer.
It was in January of 2015 that I decided to re-approach “Allerleirauh” again – and really tackle it as my next project. I had just published “Seven Seeds of Summer” and still felt a huge amount of doubt towards myself as a writer and my writing. I wanted to write the story I had waited my whole life to write. When it came to “Allerleirauh,” I had seen this story as a child and fell in love with it. It had haunted me in a lot of stories – whether it was a reference to gowns or identity, and I felt it was time to try to write this story the way I wanted. Surprisingly, what had taken me four years to do with my first one, I had “Allerleirauh” finished by July.
I have to say, while my Dad wasn’t a crazy book lover the way my Mom was – he was supportive. He didn’t like me wasting so much paper when I was younger, when I’d print story after story and using up very expensive ink (which now I completely understand) but he did always tell me to follow my dreams. My Dad died suddenly, shortly after I finished writing “Allerleirauh,” in August. It’s honestly been the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. I found myself in a very deep writer’s block, to the point it’s been an emotional block. My thoughts have been scattered and sometimes things are hardly coherent for me. I was grateful that “Allerleirauh” was finished in the writing aspect when all of this happened, and I only needed to focus on the editing process. I know that if it hadn’t been, “Allerleirauh” would not be out right now, and I would still be sitting on this amazing story with these incredible characters. But with the death of my Dad, brought this desire to make him proud. I knew I wanted to do the best that I could with this new novel, so I took time to print out the entire novel, go through it page by page, and ultimately to publish it by myself.
Pursuing my writing career still seems to be something that I’m doing. I haven’t reached the end result. Do I consider myself a real writer? Not in particular. I don’t think I will until I sell more than 11 books. I know that without my Mom and her love for books, or without the teachers that I had in Elementary school – the teachers of my High School Education – I never would have had the belief in myself, that I could amount to be some sort of writer! And while I struggled at SU to find myself, to find who I was in the shadow of who I thought I was at Muncy, I had amazing friends who read and re-read my work – who always said “You are a writer! You write!” Without the entire puzzle, I wouldn’t still be pursuing my dream.
I think Writing is an on-going thing. You’re always writing, always editing, always evolving. Chapters change and end, characters come and go. I wrote because I didn’t know any other sort of thing that brought me such joy. I read books because it was a way for me to escape bullies and difficult situations – from those experiences, and a few years’ worth of education, I have two novels to show for it. In all, it was only natural to pursue an education of writing if you want to be a writer. Do you have to do it? No. But it does give you a chance to be in a writing community; to bounce ideas off of one another. You learn so much more about your own writing, through someone else’s. Without the one classmate, who always wrote and read her poetry and stories so lovely, I never would have practiced as much as I did. Writing can be so much more than just words, or a fanfiction on Tumblr, or writing in a journal with a friend. Writing is what you make of it. If you’re serious about being an author, I recommend going to school. It’s actually one of the most natural steps you’ll take in your journey – and I guarantee you won’t regret it! The community you’ll be immersed in and the friends you’ll make along the way can only help in your growing writing career!
Find out more about Chantal here:
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Thanks Chantal for joining in!
If anyone else would like to join in on the fun, email me at caughtbetweenthepagesblog @ gmail . com, or comment below!