My arrival in this world was rather unexpected, or to be honest undesired. My poor mother was told that as long as she breastfed her first-born, she would not be able to get pregnant. But there I was, only 5 months after she became a mother for the first time at the age of twenty. Later, she admitted rather guiltily that she religiously jumped of stairs, chairs, and tables, hoping it would all come to nothing, but I was as tenacious then as I am now and was born over 65 years ago in the Netherlands.
My early years were spent on a rather arid but lovely Caribbean island off Venezuela’s coast. As one can only do that much swimming and lounging about- there was not much else to do in Curacao those days-, I became an avid reader at the precocious age of 5 and have never stopped since. Reading is so important that I will read the labels on vegetable tins if there is nothing else around.
Luckily my father encouraged me and got me a pass to the big library of the local monastery. It was like heaven. I still remember the musty smell of old books and magazines with titles like The good Roman Catholic family and Libelle. The latter being a ladies’ journal, I do not know what on earth it was doing in the monastery library. My favourite books were the complete set of Dickens stories, all in leather with the original drawings. I even read an Encyclopaedia, which in those days only consisted of 6 volumes. When I tell this to my sons, they look at me with great pity.
At the age of thirteen, I started my Diaries and only stopped in my mid-thirties when I enrolled in a Creative writing Course in England. It was one of the best courses I ever followed. The students of that class enjoyed each others’ company, and the teacher’s so much that they started a reading circle the following year. Actually, thinking about writing techniques made it a lot more daunting than I thought it was. Since then, I have written some short stories and poems and made a start with a few novels, but never got further than chapter one.
When I turned fifteen, we went back to the Netherlands, so my brothers and I could go on to higher education and because my mother finally put her foot down and said she wanted to live closer to her mother and 5 sisters. She was now pregnant with baby number four, yet another surprise! This time there was no jumping involved.
Going from a rather sleepy backward island to Holland in the Sixties was a shock to the system, but not an unpleasant one. I soon became the rebellious teenager from hell for my poor parents. I dropped out of University, joined a commune and generally behaved badly, but was having a great time doing it.
When I was twenty-one, my father went into a coma after a massive stroke. I turned a new leaf, had a permanent job and tried to support my mother raising my youngest brother. Because of the age difference and my mother already having had the pleasure of raising 3 children, she left his care for a great part to me. Although he is a father of two now, I still feel more like his adopted mum than his sister.
Ten years after this life turning event, my father died, followed by my mother two years later.
Soon after that, I got married and started a family of my own.
For over 40 years, I have worked in and around hospitals in various roles and am now retired. My sons have both left home, so I thought it would be nice to try my hand at finally finishing that novel.
The books I like to read now are either historical novels or science-fiction and fantasy. When younger, I preferred books about feminism or real-life stories. Maybe now I am getting older, I am more in need of escapism, either to the future or to the past.
Naturally, I would like to be published and become filthy rich, but to be honest, I would already see it as a small miracle if I could finish something the size of a novel. After reading quite a few books about writing and listening to interviews with writers, I got this nasty feeling that it will just be a lot of hard work and getting on with it. That is where my tenacity will hopefully come in handy.