Hello and welcome to the home of my blog. I’m going to devote this first entry to a little potted history of myself and how I came to find my subject.
Born into a mining family at the head of the South Wales Valleys in the 1970s, I always wanted to be a writer. Or an artist. Or an actress. In fact, anything that didn’t involve being a miner’s daughter in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s. So, I did the next best thing and did an English and Art degree in Aberystwyth University in the early ’90s, when the music was good and the student grants were still flowing. After a short stint in Lampeter University, I took a traineeship in arts administration in Chapter, an arts centre in Cardiff, swiftly followed by a copy editing/writing/proofreading job in UWIC, now Cardiff Met. But the urge to find my voice never left me. And I don’t mean yodelling.
In the summer of 1999, while on the Cardiff University MA in Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing, I met my husband-to-be, a playwright, in a dreamy Tuscan retreat. This was a great time to be young and creative in Cardiff. The writing scene was thriving, and the city was a-buzz with new developments. From my flat in Riverside, we watched as the Millennium Stadium was built from the ground up. I began to write monologues for performance and began writing a quirky little novel that earned me a writing mentorship with the brilliant Rhondda writer Rachel Trezise. Then, life got in the way, as they say.
So, fast forward a year or two and I found myself living a very different life. I was living in Bridgend with my husband and our young son, who had just received a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Raging at the stars and trying to make sense of it all, I began to write poetry that would help me to process the difficult, exquisite world that I now found myself a part of.
Through the National Autistic Society, I exhibited my poetry on the subject at autism awareness exhibitions that showed at the Senedd and around Cardiff. I met the gifted, nurturing and enabling poet Rhian Edwards; I got a Literature Wales writer’s bursary to finish the collection; I got a book deal with Jennifer Grigg at Green Bottle Press, who felt my slant on autism was something worth sharing. Basically, it all blinking-well fell into place. Which leads me to my biggest conclusion: writers must find their subject, the thing that batters your heart and keeps you awake sweating. Then you have to claim it, dust it down, slap it on the back and push it out the door in different clothes; to help yourself and others like you make sense of the world inside.