Chessie Henry

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WHO ARE YOU?

Hey, my name is Chessie Henry, and I'm a writer based in Wellington.

Last year I attended a writing workshop led by Damien Wilkins. Among other things, my classmates and I were asking him - how do you know when you've got a story to write? He compared it to how he imagined tinnitus would feel - a ringing in your ears that no one else can hear.

It was strange to have a feeling I'd never consciously thought about so clearly identified - and for me it's this project; the noise in the back of my head.

I feel like over the last few months, everything has been pushing me towards just getting on with this! Although I've been thinking about it for years really, it's never felt more relevant or pressing than it does right now.

But I really need some help! And I've come to Boosted to ask for that - for your support in helping me get this project off the ground :) 

OKAY, OKAY - SO WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?

The project I want to work on is a work of creative non-fiction; a book about about my Dad, Chris - he's a rural GP based in Kaikoura (well known around town for his scruffy appearance and ancient, breaking-down Land Rover)

Dad has actually had his fair share of media attention recently, for his involvement in both the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes - he's about to receive a New Zealand Medal for Bravery, for the role he played in rescuing people from the CTV building that came down in Christchurch. Like everyone who was there that day, Dad has a pretty harrowing story to tell.

But even without the quakes, Dad's job is intense and often pretty emotional. Being a rural GP (especially in New Zealand!) requires a huge variety of medical skills and knowledge. In Kaikoura, the closest major hospital is 300kms away, so if something happens - a major road accident, a complicated farm accident, a woman going into labour, a drug overdose, an incident involving domestic violence - it's up to the local GP's to cope with it. 

Dad's work has had a massive impact on our family, and on his own mental health as well. Dad is an openly emotional guy, one who doesn't believe it's ever possible to be completely 'detached' from what you do. I've seen him sink into depression after failing to save a baby during an intensely difficult birth in the Tokelau Islands. I've heard him recount incredible stories of survival in the strangest of circumstances, and I've also listened to him speak at the funerals of his much loved patients. I've watched him struggle through PTSD after his experiences during the Christchurch earthquake - only to then see him go through it all over again in Kaikoura. 

Basically - I know there's a story here. I want to write a kind of extended personal essay about my own experiences of my dad as a rural GP in NZ. I would like to write about issues that the rural medical community are facing in a wider context, but essentially I want to write something personal - to retell some of my Dad's stories in a creative way.

...BUT ARE YOU ANY GOOD?

Here's the part where I back myself! I've been developing my writing seriously ever since leaving school. I have a Bachelor of Communications majoring in Expressive Arts from Massey University, and I've just completed my MA in Creative Writing through the IIML at Victoria. For my thesis, I wrote the first draft of a fictional novel, and recived an A grade with Distinction. I'm currently working on draft two! 

I've also done an internship (and have written for) North & South Magazine, and am just beginning an internship with Neat Places (the super cool website/ app/ pocket guide profiling awesome people and places around NZ). 

I've had some short essays piublished on The Spinoff and The Wireless, and if you're interested in reading that work (slash reading more of my emotional family stories!) you can find them here:

http://thespinoff.co.nz/featured/03-11-2016/how-can-i-explain-what-you-gave-me-on-family-and-love/

http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/going-home-will-never-be-the-same-again

http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/what-happens-now-one-month-after-the-earthquake

Also, the intimidatingly impressive NZ writer Elizabeth Knox (I managed to pull myself together to hold a normal conversation with her in the end) worked with me over my MA year, and has since offered to be my mentor for future writing projects. To my amazement that means she will be around while I pull this project together, and will be able to offer me seriously valuable advice and guidance. I'm pretty bloody lucky! 

WHY DOES MONEY MATTER?

Even though it feels like there's always so much writing to do, money seems to be around in vastly less quantities (lol). I'm trying to create a space where I can fully commit and go for this - but what I'm seriously lacking is the funds that would allow me to do so. What this campaign would give me is six months without the weekly stress of scraping my dollars together to pay my rent. Unreal!!!! It would be an absolute game changer for me - whole days that I could spend writing that would otherwise be spent trying to find the money to get by.

WHAT DO WE GET OUT OF IT?

Basically, I'm asking you to support my writing career. There's not a whole lot of money down the road I'm headed, and like most creative projects, this one would otherwise have to be done slowly, in the hours outside of my day job. I genuinely think this project would be meaningful and interesting for a lot of New Zealanders, and right now - while we're still in the thick of quake aftermath - it really feels like it's at it's most relevant. Although there's no tangible gain I can offer you, by donating you would be allowing me to pursue something I really care about and believe in. I want to write so many things - and I hope that one day I'll be able to look back on this time as being the early days of a whole career. I would love to think that anyone who donates will ultimately feel satisfaction, in having supported someone at the very beginning - when trust was still so much a part of it. 

WHAT IF YOU BEAT YOUR TARGET?

Ha - $5000 is a pretty serious target, and I honestly don't know if I'll make that - let alone go over. But every dollar I get will go towards more writing time to make this project happen. 

To everyone who donates - THANK YOU. What can I say? However small, your donation is so, so appreciated. Even though writing has been my focus for years now, I still feel like I'm just at the beginning. Having people support and encourage me feels huge. I promise to take your hard earned dollars, and do everything I can to turn them into something emotional and compelling. All the love x

UPDATES

  • Beginnings

    2 MONTHS AGO

    Dad rigged up this highly advanced recording device for our latest instalment of The Dad Interviews (heaps of time to chat on the drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch) - classic haphazard work from doccy hens ⭐️ ! 

    I honestly can't believe the donations are still rolling in – I remain humbled and overwhelmed by all the generous people out there. It feels pretty special to have some of the rural medical community on board as well – so many people have sent me messages of appreciation for what these guys do, and to have them backing my project feels huge. 

    Thank you all. I am so excited to have finally begun! 

    Beginnings
  • We did it!

    2 MONTHS AGO

    I’ve honestly been umming and aahhing all week about what I can say to thank you all – I guess I’m feeling pretty lost for words.

    When I shared this campaign on facebook just over a week ago (!!), I was completely unprepared for how the response would make me feel. Since then I’ve pretty much been hiding at home, feeling emotional and more than a bit overwhelmed!

    I knew for sure that some people would get on board with it (like my parents, and my brothers, and the few unfortunate friends who had to deal with all my insecurities in the lead up to running this campaign) – but the amount of support I’ve been given has gone way beyond that. It’s a pretty crazy feeling being on the receiving end of so much love and generosity – and not just from friends, but from total strangers as well.

    To have gone so far over my original target (in such a short space of time!) is incredible, and again I just really want to emphasise that all of this money will be going towards my rent this year. I will still be working part-time, to fund the rest of my life (food, bills, much needed coffees!) but having my rent covered means that that work only needs to be around 15 hours a week, rather than 40! The rest of those hours will now be spent writing (!!!!) – and I absolutely have you all to thank for that.

    So; THANK YOU! To everyone who has backed me, shared this page, sent me loving and excited messages, and put their hard earned money towards a book they haven’t read yet – your trust in me feels huge. Also, to everyone who has donated anonymously; I’m sorry I can’t send you a personal email to say thanks.

    As I was saying to my mum the other night; this whole experience feels like a bit of a long game. I can only really show you how valuable your support has been when I have a bloody good story for you to read! But I’ll get there. And I feel so damn lucky to have you all on my team xx