Interview With Colin Chappell


Welcome to my bi-weekly interview series. I’m pleased to introduce to you today an interview with dog enthusiast, thoughtful, and entertaining writer, Colin Chappell. He is often accompanied by his friendly and energetic dog Ray. In fact, Ray is one of Colin’s favorite topics. You can visit Colin on his blog: A Dogs Life? (Stories of Me and Him).


interview-colin-and-ray1
Credit: Colin Chappell

1. Please Tell Us A Bit About Yourself?

My name is Colin Chappell. When I was born, my parents were expecting a girl so, when I arrived, they showed great initiative by thumbing through the BBC Radio Times looking for male names. If Colin Yearsley (a classical pianist) had a second name, I would have probably had a second name also; my older sister did. I am originally from Peterborough (U.K.), and now live in Oakville, Ontario, Canada (on the outskirts of Toronto).

I was born immediately after WWII and moved around the U.K. a lot when I was young because both my parents were in the theater. My Dad designed and painted scenery, while my Mum worked in the costumes area.

The introduction of television decimated the demand for theater and my parents had to make some major decisions. Growing up, my Mum held down multiple jobs and my Dad came home only on weekends. He was working approximately one-hundred-miles away from where we lived. My Dad eventually decided to build his own house. He learned how to do this successfully from library books, visiting construction sites, and asking a ton of questions.


2. What Kind of Affect Has Your Childhood Had On You?

I learned to make the best of any situation, knowing it could always be worse. I learned to not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone; to swallow my pride and ask questions as necessary.

I wanted to be a locomotive driver, but was told that I couldn’t do this job by my Dad. I went to college to pursue a career as ‘Master’ of a cargo ship. I achieved a 2nd Class Honors Certificate and was welcomed into the Blue Star Line. I was ready to join ‘Scottish Star’ in Glasgow; however, I failed a medical exam which blocked my first chosen career path. This was my welcome to the world of adulthood and the realities of the world.


“I learned to make the best of any situation, knowing it could always be worse. I learned to not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone; to swallow my pride and ask questions as necessary.” – Collin Chappell


3. When Did You Being Writing and Blogging?

I have always enjoyed writing short pieces and songs, but they were always private and I rarely shared my work. I cannot recall how I discovered blogging. But I had already been adopted by my dog Ray and wanted to share our experiences. It was also an opportunity to write publicly which was appealing to me. My blog was officially launched in October, 2014.

Later, my desire to write was extended into a book about my first eighteen-months (pre-blog) with Ray. He made a huge impact on me and was nothing like any dog that I would have chosen to adopt. But Ray had a special appeal and after a few months, I loved him!


4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

Writing is rewarding for many reasons. It allows me to express myself, to be as creative as I can, and to have some tangible evidence of my creativity and expression. No doubt there are psychological benefits to writing also. Poetry is a natural extension of writing because of my earlier days song writing; however, my blog is also my vehicle to present my poetry to the world.

Blogging is the corner stone of my literary endeavors because not only can I now share with the world, but I can receive feedback. I have access to links to bloggers and writers with similar interests and concepts. As well,  I am generally able to create a worldwide network of wonderful people. Over time I have developed friends around the world of all ages, cultures, religious beliefs (etc.) Now I have the pleasure of knowing many details about friends which go well beyond mere blogging.


” . . . [M]y desire to write was extended into a book about my first eighteen-months (pre-blog) with Ray. He made a huge impact on me and was nothing like any dog that I would have chosen to adopt. But Ray had a special appeal and after a few months, I loved him!” – Colin Chappell


interview-colin-and-ray2
Credit: Colin Chappell

5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write? Is There A Time of Day You Most Enjoy Writing?

Some of my inspiration and motivation comes from the world! From various events occurring which cause me to think because I need to know where I stand. It is important for me, to understand myself. To do this involves constant internal interrogation, until I can come up with a feasible rationale which supports my views.

Ray is also hugely inspiring. He is unlike any dog I have ever known. Just by watching him (which I do a lot) I’m invariably provided with the basis for a blog post. I also inspire and motivate myself. I am retired so have the luxury of as much time as I wish to allocate to blogging and writing but I do have many other interests.

There isn’t a particular time of day I enjoy writing more. Although, mornings and late evenings tend to be my most productive times. This is due more to convenience relative to other day to day activities. It’s not that I feel more particularly creative during these times.


7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?

I have two active projects at the moment:

My first priority is promoting my book: Who Said I was up for Adoption? All profits from this book go to the Humane Society whom rescued my beloved Ray. It’s hard to make the whole world aware of a book without investing large sums of money to market it. Self-promoting is more financially feasible, but a difficult and time consuming job.

My second priority is publishing a book of my poems. It is tentatively titled: Tina and Other Stories and could be available Spring 2017. My poetry book is ready to be published but some financial decisions have to be made.

I am uncomfortable making these choices until I have a better grasp of how Ray’s book is selling. Hopefully, I can make a decision within the next six to eight-weeks. I also have various other similar projects ‘on the back burner,’ but they will have to wait.


“Some of my inspiration and motivation comes from the world! From various events occurring which cause me to think because I need to know where I stand. It is important for me, to understand myself. To do this involves constant internal interrogation, until I can come up with a feasible rationale which supports my views.” – Colin Chappell 


8. Here is Colin’s book: Who Said I was up for Adoption?

interview-colin-book-cover
Credit: Colin Chappell

You can purchase Colin’s book from Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Indigo, Google Play, Nook, and IBooks. Here’s another link to Colin’s page where you can find links to all book sellers noted: HERE.


9. Can You Briefly Describe Your Publishing Process? Will You Continue With the Same Process in the Future?

I researched a number of leads before publishing and just as life in general — you get what you pay for. The inexpensive route (a relative term) dictated I take responsibility for areas of publishing I knew nothing about.

If my book was planned for purely local distribution, I would have chosen that route, but that was not my goal. I wanted to market my book to the world because dog lovers exist in every country. Most significantly, this book is a fundraiser for Ray’s Humane Society.

My compromise was to have a contract with FriesenPress. They provided their expertise in cover design, book layout, proofreading, overall suggestions, legalities, and ensuring Ray’s book was available to all major book retailers. Regrets? I have none, although, what I learned during this publishing process will reduce the cost of publishing my poetry book!


10. Do You Have A Particular Writing Process?

Blogging – I write from heart to keyboard, and then read, re-read, re-read, fine tuning the piece. Sometimes I will leave a post for a few hours and then read it again to get a fresh perspective. I like to plan to create ahead of time, but more often I end up creating immediately prior to posting. I will not hit the ‘Publish’ button unless I am absolutely happy with my post.

Book Writing – I use exactly the same process, especially with poetry. Reading a poem can often draw attention to a bad line or difficult rhythm. My intended book of poetry is being reviewed, although, it was completed well over six-months ago. Who Said I was up for Adoption? was completed over a nine-month period, but took an additional eighteen-months to polish well enough to publish.


“If my book was planned for purely local distribution, I would have chosen that route, but that was not my goal. I wanted to market my book to the world because dog lovers exist in every country. Most significantly, this book is a fundraiser for Ray’s Humane Society.” – Colin Chappell


11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas or Genres of Reading and Writing?

I have little time for reading fiction — JRR Tolkein being the exception. It’s not that I don’t enjoy fiction, but more that I want to understand more about people and the real world. I recently read a beautifully emotional ‘lost love’ poem. I was devastated to learn later the poem was pure fiction! I need to relate to the writer and I feel I cannot do that with fiction.


12. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?

Write… write… write.

Be honest to yourself.

Write… write… write.

Use blogging as much as you can because there is so much support out there in the blogging world for novice writers.

Write… write… write.

If you are pleased with what you write, then what other people think of it is secondary.

Write… write… write.

If you are not pleased with what you write, you need to spend time finding why you are unhappy with it. Once you have identified the problem, you can start working on the solution — Very logical!


“I recently read a beautifully emotional ‘lost love’ poem. I was devastated to learn later the poem was pure fiction! I need to relate to the writer and I feel I cannot do that with a fictional piece of writing.” – Colin Chappell


13. Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share Pertinent to Yourself or Writing?

I have volunteered in numerous diverse places over the years, and every position I held was valuable education for me. It was valuable both because of the work involved and in the learning it provided me.

I support a number of charitable organizations which help people regain their self-respect and of course, I support animal rescue organizations. Life has been and still is, a wonderful education; however, one must always participate in life to see any results.


14. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs You Like to Follow? What Do You Like About Them?

I really do not have favorite blogs, but I do enjoy more philosophical blogs as they are thought provoking. Dog related blogs are interesting simply because I can relate to the topics presented. Any post I read that promotes a positive mental attitude maintains my attention. In a world which seems to celebrate negativity, we need as many positive vibes as possible!


15. Here is a Piece From Colin’s Blog, One of His Favorite Poetic Verse Posts:

“Skeeta’s Legacy”

By Colin Choppell

*****

Skeeta was a Siamese cat

Of distinction so we thought

She was rather unlike her breed

Friendly and quite large

I had known a few Siamese

But none had traits like these

*****

She would ride in our car

On top of the front seats

Swaying whenever I braked

Forwards and backwards

Sideways on the turns

We would laugh until we ached

*****

Then one day she clearly had changed

Her clean toilet habits had gone

Something was wrong we were sure

She used to be meticulously clean

A test revealed leukemia

With no treatment. No cure

*****

After living with us

For only three months

Dearest Skeeta was put to sleep

But she left her mark

Indelibly on my heart

With memories that I would keep

*****

She went to a better place

To join her kind and be without pain

Where cats are happy and free

To be as I’d want her to be

But Skeeta left a legacy behind

Unbeknownst at the time to me

*****

Many years later when Ray moved in

He tested positive for heart worm

After only three months in our home

What were our options? What to do?

A very serious condition

And he could not fight it alone

*****

We could return him, put him to sleep

Or do nothing which would eventually kill him

What would make the most sense?

For such a short and unhappy life

An expensive course of treatment

Could we justify the expense?

*****

The treatment he may not survive

But shouldn’t we at least try?

For perhaps survive he would

Shouldn’t we give him a chance?

A chance for his life to fulfill?

To live out his life being loved?

*****

Euthanizing would give him peace

Not 3 years old with an unknown past

His early life seemed hard and alone

Surely a dog has a right

To fight for his life

In a warm and caring home?

*****

To return him to the shelter

Raised problems of another sort

Who would adopt a very sick Ray?

Who would want his vet bills?

Who would open their home?

Who would invite him to stay?

*****

During these dilemmas I heard a voice

Reminding me of Skeeta long ago

With no hope of a cure in sight

How she was put down

Her future sealed by a disease

That cheated her out of her life

*****

But this time was different

Ray did have a chance

If treatment started right away

The decision just had to be made

And then hope for the time

When once again he could play

*****

Ray will never know

What influenced his future

Or how it came to be

That a cat, of all creatures,

May have saved his life

That was Skeeta’s legacy.


16. Additional Posts:


Thanks so much to Colin for sharing with us his book, poetry, love for Ray, and his experience in life and writing. I loved discovering he both searches inside himself to find the right answers and also engages with the world to learn and discover the things he needs to know. His love of learning and passion for volunteering is something we can all aspire to.


If you would like to be featured as a writer and blogger in my bi-weekly interview series please reach-out to me on my contact page. Thanks for reading and see you in two-weeks!


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

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Dealing with My Worst Qualities. 


Prompt: What is your worst quality?

 

It is a great deal easier to write about my worst qualities then my best. Mostly, because I am aware of my faults more than my best characteristics. There are two things I do that are my worst qualities:

My, first worst quality has to do with my ability to not be able to contrentrate long or be multi-functional anymore. I am not blaming my health for it; I am saying my health intensified the issue.

I can do one thing at a time and it is often frustrating when I am working on writing up a paper or blogging about a subject, and someone starts trying to have a conversation with me. It makes me angry because I can’t multi-task, the person talking to me is interrupting my ideas and line of thought. And you know how if you are a creative person, ideas often flow out of you when they do; you have to write, paint, or do whatever you do to get your burst of creativity on paper. Meanwhile, a person is still talking to you none-stop and asking you questions and it is annoying. At the same time, I feel bad about being irritated.

Often, it is my Mom who is trying to talk to me. Before, I was ever ill I remember being so mad because I would be researching, writing up a paper, or working on a spreadsheet from work and she would pepper me with questions. But I knew she only wanted to talk to someone after a busy day at work about what went on good or bad. She wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t involved in her office life and get my opinion or view on a situation. She wanted to be able to talk about the people at her work, honestly. She wanted to ‘take a load off.’

I want to be able to talk with my Mom and others. But if I am busy or worn out after doing activities all day, I will brush people off. I will tell my Mom to stop bothering me. I go to my room and finish what I’m doing or sleep if I’m tired. I want to be chatty and happy but I feel bothered and drained by people talking at me and asking countless questions at times. So my first big flaw is I am irritable and single-minded. I am working on actively being a better listener. But it is hard at the time of day everyone gets home from work because I am worn out from the day and my medication is wearing off. I want to listen more and be involved in the conversation and not tune it out or walk away. Sometimes I able to be a better listener and sometimes I’m too irritated to pay attention.

The second flaw I have is something I try to attend to before it becomes worse. I have a tendency if I get mad or angry to let the issues I’m upset about build-up inside me. I get stressed-out when this occurs. I will sort through issues in my head trying to solve them. “Problems to solutions that don’t even exist,” I was told once. But the issue is my problems are real and bothersome. And I attempt to be a nice kind person so I don’t usually tell someone off or ask them to stop doing something unless they are especially bothering me.

An issue arises, however; if someone is repeatedly doing a hurtful action. Or if a person keeps doing a whole bunch of bothersome and hurtful actions all the time. I try to tell myself it is no big deal. I pray about it. I practice yoga and meditate sometimes. I write a lot as you know. And often writing helps a ton. Sometimes if I write something up and even if I don’t post it because it’s too personal or mean about another person, I feel better.

But every now and then someone pushes my buttons and I explode into yelling and tears. I’m a soft spoken reasonable person so when I yell and scream people are surprised and usually offended. Maybe, they didn’t realize something was a larger issue to me then they would have thought. Maybe, I am blowing the situation out of proportion. And maybe, I genuinely have the right to be so upset at someone.

I scared and hurt a friend in Vegas once when I erupted with anger. My friend T and I needed to take L aside and talk to her before the situation got worse but neither T or I did. L had been treating T and I badly the entire summer. Not to mention, she wanted to do all these things with us in Vegas but didn’t actually have the money to pay for it so T and I ended up paying for L, on many activities we did. Also, the fact L had a wonderful boyfriend who was our friend too, and L was flirting and making out with other guys made T and I angry.

I have told this part before: while we are in a club, T became so drunk she was sick and we had to leave the bar. We tried to get L to leave because we promised to stay together, all three of us. L kept telling us to wait and I finally told her T and I had to go, the bouncer was about to carry T and I out the back exit. L chose to stay with two guys she had been flirting with all night.

We finally saw L again as we got back to the hotel room. She was angry too and tried to blame it all on us and said we had abandoned her at the club. I knew T would never stand up to L because she prefers not to handle situations head on. T used to let a person treat her badly, instead of standing up to them. Luckily, she has become better at this over time.

I was so mad about L’s behaviour all summer. I exploded. L was shocked and she asked me why I would even want to be her friend if I thought so badly of her. And I told L how bad she was treating her boyfriend and if she didn’t stop, even T said she’d tell L’s boyfriend on her. L had been treating T and I badly too. L left our room with all her stuff. She wouldn’t talk to us the rest of the trip.

L made up with T because she hadn’t yelled at her, even though L had been a bad friend to T, ditching her for guys countless time. After many emails and some time L and I were friends again three months later. I finally apologized because she wouldn’t. And funny enough, she became closer to her boyfriend. L saw how valuable he was, and ended up becoming engaged, and marrying him.
Even though, L was misbehaving, she didn’t deserve to be yelled at so loudly and L didn’t deserve to have everything T and I were mad at her for dumped on her. People are imperfect and you have to pick and choose your battles. Some things about your friends you have to accept; just as you have flaws so do they. The best friends love you after you’ve shown them your worst side and you love them after you have seen the worst of them. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing your friend or choosing to be right.

I am careful now because of this situation in Las Vegas when I was twenty-three, to not let my anger build up. If I have a big problem with someone or something they are doing, I am honest. And I try hard to tell people how I’m feeling in such a way  that isn’t accusatory but rather focuses on how something is hurting me or causing me to feel a certain way. The truth is people do not always realize they are being hurtful. Often, you need to tell the person who is damaging you to stop treating you a certain way and they will listen and cease.

Not letting issues build up helps. I also have learned to let some issues go. I try to get someone else’s view on the situation, Google the general problem, or pray about it. For many situations I find looking at them from a different perspective is helpful. If you see the situation differently it won’t become a problem that will build up. I have also learned that you have to say goodbye to some people or take your issues with a person to a higher authority. But since we are adults, there is usually no higher authority, unless it is a work issue or an issue of crime.

So for instance,  I had trouble with a girl who was editor of a magazine I volunteered to write for. She didn’t understand why I was upset about her editing my articles to sound entirely as if they were in her voice. Some of her other editors were being taught to do the same. I didn’t find out until later when I took actual editing courses, what this editor was doing was incorrect and rude. You always try to preserve the voice of the writer and the way the article is written as much as you can. I was confident enough in my writing skills, my BA in English Literature, and the couple hundred articles I had written for her magazine previously. My ideas and my writing style wasn’t bad but my grammar and spelling needed work.

The editor wrote me a letter saying I had to work on my grammar and spelling, which was true. And she had tried to let me improve but I wasn’t, so she increasingly, cut down my article writing until I was only writing one article a week; before I was writing nothing. I exploded to her letter with a nasty email. She thought this was exactly how I was going to react. She probably had the same issue come up with past contributers to her magazine. I ended up apologizing to her for being ageist because she was more than five years younger then me with no degree, so I didn’t trust her writing or editing experience. Honestly, I had good instincts with her, despite my hasty email.

In truth, she was being manipulative and I finally recognized, she didn’t like my writing style. She was looking for people who wrote how she wrote on her personal blog and in her articles. And she didn’t want me to write for her magazine even when she needed writers. I was offended but I knew I didn’t want to be a writer like her or for her. She said the magazine was expanding and the writers had to expand or become better with it. I agreed but still had problems with how she chose to write and what she focused on in her magazines.

I didn’t like how she regularly wrote about cheating with men and women and ruining relationships. Although I support LBGT people, I was offended that she rarily had articles pertaining to man and woman couples, boyfriends and girlfriends.  I found this editor to be selfish, micro -managing, and immature despite her attempts to appear professional.

She didn’t want my writing but wanted to use my blogs to tweet and post. She wanted to stay friends but didn’t want me to write for her because I was offended by her note. I had every right to be.

So, I let her go. I stopped supporting the magazine by buying the quarterly issues. I wouldn’t let her use any of my writing for her magazine. I unfriended her on Facebook and Twitter. I stopped taking her text messages and didn’t give her my new number when it changed. I unsubscribed from her blog and anything related to the magazine. It was a great decision.

I don’t know where she is at now. I hope she is well and has worked out some of her life and issues with the magazine such as finding writers. It was mean of me to write her a nasty reply to her email. She didn’t deserve it, even if she lacked a degree or experience. But I couldn’t be friends with her after how she talked about my writing, how she treated my skills as if suddenly they were useless. I knew from professors, writing articles in the Edmonton Journal in University, and even strangers my writing was good. It didn’t mean my writing didn’t require improvement (it still does and will forever) but I didn’t like how she belittled my skills and my person. I let her go.

So, I have learned some tricks to working off stress and dealing with problems before they become so large I explode in tears and screaming. Every once in a long awhile, I can’t help it but I am getting better. We cannot always overcome our flaws but we can try to manage them.

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©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.