Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Today is a day of national grief in the Netherlands. Today is the day we remember those who have passed away in a horrible way. I myself had just safely arrived in Spain when I heard about the crash. I was shocked. Despite telling myself that I would spend as little time on my phone as possible, I kept looking up information about what had happened. It felt so surreal. Too tragic to be true.
A couple of people who were on holiday with me received phone calls and texts informing them that someone they knew had passed away. This is one of those disasters that affect so many people. Lots of people knew somebody who was on the plane or knew somebody who had lost a relative or a friend. It was a black day in the history of our country.
And I saw quite a few comments saying that suddenly everybody cared about these deaths but nobody cares for Palestina or victims of other wars. I understand that thought and I find every innocent life lost is one too many, regardless of where they are from or who they were. The reason why so many people are in shock about this, is because it happened so close to home and in a terrible way.
These people thought they were going on the holiday of a lifetime. They were going to visit relatives or build up a new life. They boarded the plane without a care in the world and then it was all over within the blink of an eye.

I am watching on tv how some of the bodies are taken to a place to be identified. Cars stopped in the middle of the highway. Thousands of people gathered at the side of the road to pay their respect. It is amazing to see that the victims are being honoured even though this tragedy shouldn't have happened at all.

War is a terrible thing and even though wars have been fought for centuries, what has it truly brought us but sadness and pain?

The victims of MH017 will never be forgotten. And I hope that all innocent lives lost in wars and disasters around the world will be remembered. There are no words for comfort. There is nothing that makes us less fragile. The only thing that can truly make a change, if we put down the weapons and let love conquer.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

It's done!

It is done. Fini. After months of writing, the first draft of my novel is finished. It hasn't become a long novel. At 61,000 words it is considered quite short, but I might add things when I start editing. I might also delete a lot of things. But whatever I do with it, I finished it. I finished my first book. I never thought I could. I always stuck to short stories because they were easy to get done and not as much of a commitment as a whole book. I'm printing the first draft now to let someone else read it. When I get back from holiday, I will read it myself and the gruelling editing proces will begin. Once I'm satisfied with it, I will translate it into English.

I am incredibly proud of myself. There were times when I just wanted to quit. I thought I didn't have any inspiration any more and then it came back all of a sudden and the writing went extremely quickly. I just don't know what to say. I've been typing all day long today to make sure I finished it before I leave tomorrow and I did it. I DID IT!

I just wanted to let you know that. Also, I won't be online much for five days. I know you will miss me, but you're big boys and girls, you will manage.

Did I mention I finished the first draft of a novel? Gosh it seems so surreal now.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

That time I sang a song on stage.

Yesterday I went on stage and sang a song in front of people. You might think that that's nothing to remarkable, but it is, considering it's been 8 years since I stood on a stage and sang solo. That didn't go too well. The keyboardplayer played the song in the original key which was too low for me and I was too shy to stop the song and tell him to go lower. Which meant it was a disaster and as it was a schoolthing, I had to deal with mockery for a loooong time.
That's fine. Shit happens. I kept on singing, although I was afraid to be on a stage again and to sing by myself which meant people could actually hear my voice. I know I'm not Beyonce and I don't want to be. I sing because I enjoy singing and it makes me happy and for a long while I kept it to myself because I didn't want anyone to take the joy away from me again with their harsh words.
Cue the end of 2012. The opportunity to sing on stage with Mika as part of the Polka Dot Choir arose. I first watched videos of the choir in the US and their audition videos. Most of them were amazing singers and I thought I'd never in a million years would have a chance. But I wanted to do it so badly because no matter if I'm singing or dancing or acting or even reading a story, I feel happy on a stage in front of people. So by the time the opportunity to send in a video for the European dates came around, I was very nervous and of course I got a cold so I didn't sound too great. I knew there were going to be a lot of entries for Amsterdam so I thought I might send in my video for Cologne, but then I thought, fuck it, it's Paradiso, worth a shot.
Long story short, I saw someone on facebook mention she was in, I checked my email and I also got one. I screamed really loudly. I hadn't been on a stage since I was 15.
So, the gig happened and at first I was incredibly nervous, but once I got into it, I really got into it and it was amazing to see the crowd respond and to be part of something that makes so many people happy. After that I wanted to improve my singing, but it wasn't until February this year that I actually decided to take vocal lessons. Luckily, I got a really lovely vocal teacher who is just as eccentric as I am and incredibly patient. Whenever I would be down cause things didn't go the way I wanted to, she would highlight the positive. We'd focus on one technique at a time. Main goal was to get rid of the air I used when singing, as I pretty much sounded like a lame Britney Spears tribute act. We practised with Love of My Life by Queen and she told me to sing it without air which I did and then try it again with air, but the air was gone and I couldn't get it back. That was the point where I realised I could get better.

She asked me a couple of weeks ago if I would like to sing at the end of year presentation. I refused at first, as I still had the disaster of teenage me in mind. She persuaded me anyway. At first I wanted to do Thinking of You by Katy, but it was still a bit too hard so I chose Stardust by Mika instead. I was one of the last to go on and I was incredibly nervous. The room was pretty crowded and I just thought 'what if I'll fail?' It was the first time the pianoguy played the song and we hadn't practised together. So he started the song too fast. This time I did stop and asked him to slow it down. I'm glad I did. I sounded rather shaky and uncertain until after the first chorus. Then I started to really enjoy myself and I realised why I wanted to do this in the first place. I did make a lot of mistakes but overall I think I did well. You can watch it below:

Stardust from Ingrid Chant on Vimeo.

The people in the audience were quiet throughout the whole song. My vocal teacher was really excited and proud. Most importantly, I am proud of myself. I'm proud that I did it despite being scared. Fear is the worst advisor. I'm not scared of criticism anymore. I know my strenghts and my weaknesses. I know that I have a long way to go but I only want to improve for myself and to make myself even prouder. That's why I share this video, because I'm proud of myself.

I hope that I continue to improve myself and I hope that I will get more chances to be on stage and to do what I enjoy doing most, whether it be in front of 15 people or 1500.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Why it is important to be inspired by others.

I am halfway through with my novel. I'm pretty pleased with myself and I never thought I could get so far. I know I'm not quite there yet, but the end is in sight and the further I get into my story, the more excited I am to keep on writing. I have found the right story but I have also found the right people to inspire me.

Because let's face it. Everybody is inspired by somebody. No matter how unique we feel we are, we always need somebody to encourage us. Whose work inspires us to create our own fantastic pieces. Of course, it is great when your family and friends tell you that you are super awesome and that they have never read/heard/seen something as brilliant as you've just created, but they are the people closest to you. It's kind of their duty to not slag you off. I really appreciate all the great comments and feedback from my friends and family, but I have found out that feedback from people whose work I truly admire are of immense value to me in my quest to be able to say: "Yes, I wrote a novel. Guess I'm a true writer now. Go me!"

There have been two people who have truly inspired me to keep on writing. When I was about 12, I stopped writing altogether because I felt like it didn't suit me any purpose anymore. I wasn't going through a good time and I couldn't cope with writing anymore because it made me relive emotions I tried to keep away from me. It was a foolish thing to do as I threw away that one thing that made me cope. But we always find out stuff like that until we are older, don't we?
I discovered Mika's music when I was 15-years old and inspired by his ability to create a whole world around his songs, I slowly picked up writing again. It felt good. I wrote lyrics and poetry which were really awful, but they helped me process my thoughts. The more I wrote, the more comfortable I became with words. In 2011, 5 years after I had picked up writing again, I wrote a short story collection based on Mika's songs. Looking back at it, those stories were really quite bad. But I was proud of myself for managing to pull through and create something. I did give it to him and he seemed to like it. Probably because of the pretty illustrations.
I decided to keep on writing and wrote a longer story. It wasn't really all that bad, but I had barely done any editing and it was filled with flaws. I had it printed, but on the day I was planning on giving it to him, I got cold feet. What if he would laugh at me? My friend Laura convinced me to give it to him anyway and I did and I am glad I did. It was just the two of us and him (and the band) so there was no rush. I told him I had something for him and gave him the book. I said it was still a draft and it wasn't really that good, but he said that he loved it and showed it to one of the bandmembers (who couldn't give any fucks). That was enough for me, so I kept going.
Last year, I wrote a collection of poems and lyrics, and got some copies printed. I called it Chasing the Sun because I have an obsession with the sun and moon (which will be evident in the novel I'm writing) and I feel like chasing the sun is a good metafor. The sun is the biggest star after all, and just chasing the stars is for pussies. I'm actually still really proud of that book (first time) and love the illustrations (thanks to Ana).
I gave it to him last year after I first had to snap my fingers in his face.

He looked at it and genuinely liked it. He said he'd look at it in the car and held on to the book until he actually got in the car, while he gave all other gifts to his assistant. I had already gone by the time he got in the car, but when I saw a picture of him holding on to the book, it made me very happy.

I don't know if he has actually read the books (it's ok if he skipped the first two), but just his response every time I give him something I've created is enough for me to keep on going. I hope that I will be able to give my novel to him by the time it is finished. But we'll see that in the upcoming months. I first have to finish that thing.

The second person who inspired my writing was Neil Gaiman. I first read Neverwhere after picking it up while on a trip to the UK and I immediately fell in love with his writing. He is a master storyteller and that is something I want to become as well. You can write the most beautiful sentences, but if you can't tell a story, you're fucked.
Anyway, when I found out he was in my country I dragged my friend over to Rotterdam and we listened to him talk for 45 minutes and then entered the back of the queue to get my books signed. I wanted to say thank you for his stories, as by that time I had read almost all of his novels and especially his last one (Ocean at the end of the lane) had touched me deeply. So I did say thank you. And we talked a bit and he suddenly asked me if I was a writer. I said I tried to be, as I wasn't really sure at that point if I could make it. He said "Good, keep writing."

 I had no excuse now. Neil Gaiman told me I had to keep writing so I did. I had started many stories and had failed at finishing all of them. I almost gave up but then I realised I had to keep on writing if I ever wanted to get better. So I started writing short stories again and poems. I wrote so many things until at last the puzzle pieces of stories in my head came together and actually formed a concrete story. The one I'm working on right now.
I tweeted that a year ago Neil told me to keep writing and that I did and that I got so far already. And without expecting it, a new interaction popped up on my timeline:

I am so sure now that I will finish this and that when the story is done I will be proud of what I have accomplished and proud of the characters I have created. There are many more writers who have inspired me (such as Angela Carter and Kurt Vonnegut) who have unfortunately passed away. I am just happy that the people who have inspired me gave me hope and confidence that this is something that I can do. That I can accomplish something. It may not mean a lot to them, but it sure means the world to me. I am still trying to find my voice and I'm certainly not at the top of my game yet, but I will continue to get better and no matter what happens with the story once I finish it, it is certain that I will finish it.

So, if you have a dream, if you want to create something but are afraid to do so. Don't be. Don't listen to those who say you can't sing or dance or write. Don't listen to those who say that you will never be a professional drawer. Believe in yourself and strive to get better. You will be amazed at the results.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Where inspiration comes from

I have written 20,000 words so far. I feel incredibly proud as it is finally starting to shape up to something, which is marvelous of course. I plan to write a blog every time I've written another 10,000 words, so yay, here it is!

I was at my grandmother's birthday party the other night and my cousin told me that she thought it was amazing how people could just come up with stories and build entire worlds with nothing but their imagination. I agreed it was amazing. I'm not at the point yet where I can just create a world like J.K. Rowling did or come up with hundreds of characters and keep them all apart like George RR Martin. However, while writing my story now I find that often the story seems to write itself. The longer I'm working on it, the easier it gets.

Inspiration is a bitch. When you're looking for it, you won't find it. When you're not even thinking about finding it, it will hit you. I see a lot of people ask famous artists what inspires them, but I feel like it shouldn't be about what inspires them, but when they find inspiration. You can be inspired by everything. A man picking his nose in the train? Yessir! A cat chilling on a front porch? Inspiration right there! A woman who randomly spits fire in the streets? Stranger things have happened but it is inspiring alright!

I have spent a long time trying to write longer stories but I always failed because of so many reasons and I never understood why I couldn't just get shit done. Now I get it. I didn't have the right stories back then. I've found the right story now. Regardless of what happens with it after it's done, I'm already proud of it.

I will keep sharing my adventures in writingland here so I hope you will keep checking back.



Saturday, 14 June 2014

Song of the day: The Bed Song

It's already late at night and I should be in bed right now but obviously I'm still awake and I felt like writing a blog. And I don't know if I've ever written about this song, but I don't care. When I'm writing, I'm inspired by music and by powerful lyrics. However, there are few songs which give me chills down my spine and make me tear up. One of those songs is the Bed Song by Amanda Palmer.

A powerful video and an even more powerful song. I have noticed that whenever I'm writing, my stories tend to be about lost love and heartbreak because it is a subject that fascinates me. I am fascinated by the fact that two human beings can love each other so much that having to let go causes physical pain. And in today's society it is easy to lose sight of one another even when you're living under the same roof. Much too often do lovers become strangers. It seems like we have forgotten how to communicate. At least for me this song does show that no matter the obstacles, love does survive. We only tend to forget it sometimes in our hectic lives.

I'm a sucker for songs which tell stories and The Bed Song is a beautiful story. You have to be made of stone not to be touched by it. It makes you think which is something many songs lack these days; the ability to move us and make us take a closer look at the world around us again.

I hope you will enjoy the song while I will go to bed.



Thursday, 5 June 2014

Update on what I am doing.

I know I've been awful at keeping up with this blog. That has a reason as I am very busy with writing my first novel. I'm used to writing short stories, but this is a whole new thing for me. I have tried writing novels in the past as well, but somehow I always got stuck and that sucks because it makes you feel like a failure. Now I realised I didn't fail at writing all those other novels. I just didn't have to right story to tell yet and this time, I do have a story that has to be told.

 I won't tell you what it is about just yet. That's a secret. But I do want you to know what I'm working on. Sometimes the story comes easy. It just nestles its way into my head and I won't stop writing until inspiration has run dry. Sometimes it is harder though and it seems like the people in my head refuse to come out on paper. Those days are annoying, but necessary I guess.

 I hope that I will have the story finished by the end of the Summer, both the Dutch and English version. And I hope that when it is as perfect as it should be, I am able to share it with you. That's all really. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope that soon I will be able to thank you for reading my book. As for now, here's a sketch I did about a part of the story. Please know that I suck at drawing but I make up for that in fabulousness.