Car Conversations

Yesterday, I was in the car with two of my kids, when Jonah (boy, 7 years old), proclaimed he was going to be a writer. I smiled and told them I also have that dream since I was five.

Baukje (girl, 10 yrs old) was surprised and curious. So I reluctantly told them about stories I’ve written when I was their age (a never ending fairy tale about a magical flower and a series about a flying teabag. I know, I was a brilliant kid, haha).

I admitted it was still my dream and they were very interested in what I was writing now.

The conversation went something like this

Me: ‘It’s a story for teens about a girl that is half devil/half human. Her father is the devil (who’s retired for the time being) and her mother, well she’s a bit of a criminal. ‘

Jonah: ‘Cool’.

Me: (surprised they were still interested) ‘The girl protects the gate to hell which is in Paris and only has to do this for a couple of days, because she has done it for years. But then a terrorist starts bombing sites in the city.

Baukje: ‘Really?’ Does this really happen?”

Me: “No love, it’s just a story.’

Baukje: ‘Isn’t it too scary to write?’

Two things happened:

  1. Summarizing your story can do wonders for your understanding of it
  2. I realized children are the best. And I love them so much

 

bauk jo

(Jonah and Baukje being cute, standing on the Eiffel Tower).

 

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Fear

Short stories are my first love. I love the compact feel of a plot spread over a couple of pages, every word getting the story closer to the end, preferably at high speed.

Neil Gaiman and Stephen King are my short story heroes.

I, unfortunately, am not very good at writing them. But that has never stopped me from trying anyway. The funny thing is that when I’m writing a short story I tune in to a very strange part of me.

Let me explain a bit: In my humble opinion there are two kind of persons.

People who jump in the pool right away & People who walk around it, assessing the temperature of the water, dipping a toe, or use the stairs.

I’m a jumper-inner.

Except when writing short stories.

I have trouble getting in and out fast, and linger to0 long on words that are not supposed to be there in the first place. I’m also sort of afraid of the stories that end up on the page.

When writing a long story, I feed on my grown-up fears. Which are of course little fears (the fear of eating alone/ the fear of not having enough time).

When I write short stories, I feed on my childhood fears which are HUGE. (the neighbors are plotting to kill us/ pigeons are demons/ the dunes are alive and eat children in Summer).

My trick is to write a short story first and when I type ‘The End’ immediately move on to novel drafting so that the childhood fears stick a while longer.

 

Those fears are the ones that come knocking in the middle of the night.