Writer’s Block in 2012.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 120.000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Year’s end and new beginnings.

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all that I can permit myself to contemplate. John Steinbeck

I was born on a New Year’s Eve. Nepali New Year’s Eve on April 13 to be exact. Not the one we celebrate here. I wasn’t aware of that until last year. Working and living in Nepal made me realize it. Of course it is of no importance besides the fact that I nowadays celebrate the New Year twice a year. Once is my own new year, the other one is everyone else’s new year. And every year I reflect on the past year, look back a year, or two or three, and compare. Compare how my life is compared to the previous New Year’s Eves. I’ve always done that because I solemnly believe that when times are hard it is good to look back and based on the comparison understand where the progress has been. I thrive on progress and change, that’s why I do that. Because I also believe that the year I can no longer define progress in any aspect I will have lost my soul.

Past nine years have brought joy, challenge, pain and sorrow. So, on the one scale is all that defines me now as the person I am and what I think is good. The other scale is loaded with the negative, the disasters, illnesses and headwind. And I do not even try to objectivate the outcome. Because if I do I I can not be sure that the overall balance is positive. I simply don’t know if I’m better off now than a year ago. This year has learned more than any year before that the negative might just as well bring a lot op positive things and the seemingly positive can be a dark thing.

A year ago I was in love, and love was answered. In another place in the world, far away from home I had unexpectedly found a woman who I fell in love with and in spite of a massive ravine between our cultures. I felt my life had changed and I planned to move away from Europe and start another life in Asia. It wasn’t even a dream but it was a reality and steps were made, choise were made and I felt so good. In February the axe fell. Totally unexpected. Cultural differences prooved unbreacheable. I had to let go and to be honest, I had already done so the day I stepped on that damned airplane that flew me back to my European life in January. Sometimes I still feel I shouldn’t have boarded that plane but just stayed. For that new life. For love.

I didn’t stay. I flew back. I lost my love.

It tumbled me over and then it was the April New Year’s Eve and I turned fifty, thinking it didn’t matter to me at all. But it did. A lot, an awful lot. I fell sick and the summer went unnoticed. I did not live.

By fall I started breathing again. I published a novel and a photobook. Photo exhibitions followed and there is still one ongoing until February next year. Four days after my birthday on April 18 I was in bed with a bad flu and I found a painting on the internet. I swept me off my feet. I had to know what that painting was and I started researching. I found out it was made by a nineteenth century painter who lived in Kensington, London. ‘Flaming June‘ made me restart my life. Research learned me that there was a dispute about the model who sat for Frederick Leighton for thet specific painting. That dispute led me to a forgotten woman who died in the 1930’s but who was three decades earlier one of the most beautiful women in England. And gradually a story unfolded which was already there waiting to be revealed. More on that can be read here: www.woordenstorm.nl/lachrymae.


It’s end of December now, tomorrow is the last day of this year. I am working hard on my new novel which has evolved in a trilogy about three women, about emancipation, about relationships, war, poverty, wealth, beauty and decay. And about me. It’s the work I will have to write in the coming year, maybe even years. I already know most of the story but I also know that as always it will grow and evolve in a much more detailed and compelling story. My biggest work ever. And tonight I look back. Back to this crazy year.

My life is in many aspects destroyed in the past decade. My body is defect in a very private aspect and I feel deep sadness about that. It actually is the reason why relationships scare me. I don’t think anyone can help me with that, it is very much my own struggle to get some peace over that. My economics are, well they are virtually non-existent. To Dutch standards I am poor and in debt to a level that I will never overcome, no matter what I do and no matter how hard I work. This was the year that I had to learn the harsh reality of not having the money to lead a normal life. I don’t have my own front door anymore, most of my belongings have gone (which for the most of it I don’t mind at all), I can hardly afford transport to anywhere and my social life is becoming smaller and smaller. There are days I do not have food. But this year also learned me that I have the ability to go on and after a year living way below poverty standards I am still here. The most important thing that happend to me this year is that I relearned to make decisions about my own life again. Because I did.

Which brings me to next year.

January will be very difficult. They’re coming to take some of my things away. I won’t be there myself. Complicated story. Pressure is building on me rapidly and life will certainly not improve in January. But important moves are being made. Finance stuff for instance. In the coming months it will all become more transparant and that will inevitable lead me into some sort of debt reduction scheme or bankruptcy. Life won’t end over that. What will happen is that I’m entering a couple of years of very poor living standards but I have the assurance that they won’t be worse than they are now. And yes, that old divorce thing will be corrected in the coming months and that might very well bring a lot of relief. If only because the negative economic part of that will be lifted and redevided in a manner that is fair and making my life easier. It’s all the direct result of the I choice made this year to start rebuilding my life after a downwards spiral that had caught me in the past nine years.

And then there is art. The other major decision I made is that my life will be about writing my books, making my photos and filmwork and focus on the arts as my line of business and the major driving force in my life. It even tops relationships. I know now I can not make any concessions anymore in regard to the art I make and the reason why I do that. Because writing is for me like breathing. There is no way that I can stop that or want to do so. Which made me to choose a pseudonym for writing my future work. Enter Anna Ros. 2012 has brought me a lot on the artistic plane because I’ve grown and made major steps forward but 2013 is even more promising in that. My work improved and so did my writing. I have become confident in that work. I know my abilities and I know where improvement is needed. And there is a lot out there waiting for me to take on. The trilogy being the most important work but there’s also that other loosely related work which I make with a befriended writer. It will surprise a lot of people and is really exciting to make. And of course the film will get finished in 2013, at last. Not as one major work but as a series of three or four short documentaries, portraits of specific people telling the story of forgotten refugees.

And love? Well, that is something else entirely. I am not chasing it to the intensity that I did in the past years. If it happens, it happens. Which doesn’t mean I am not in love because I think I am. To a certain extend. Maybe 2013 will be a good year for love. I would like that but of course that’s uncertain. What is certain is that it will be a great year for friendships. With the few people out there who really know me.

So, this New Years Eve is a very unclear one. Unclear on how my live will continue in 2013, uncertain about where I’ll live and with who. Uncertain about love. But very certain about what defines me: my writings.

I wish all of you a good 2013. With health and love. Skip the economics and other non important things of life, just go for happiness and health. That should suffice.

Alice Anna

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

A joyful death in Deventer.

Today I witnessed a heartbreaking scene in the streets of the old town of Deventer. The two young women were crying their hearts out over their tragic loss who was laid to rest in a simple coffin on a simple handcart pushed over the cobblestones by two grumpy sextons. The two were obviously anxious to get their job of transporting the remains to the graveyard done as quickly as possible but the women weren’t able to say their last goodbyes to the deseized yet.

Death in Deventerphoto © 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

At the first attempt of closing the coffin the two men were interrupted by a loud cry: “No, no!”. The young lady dressed in deep black, obviously the widow, stopped them in their act to gaze at her loved one for the last time. Then, ruthlessly the sextons closed the coffin and soon after weeled the handcart away through the crowd who witnessed what happened. The two young women followed slowly, gazing with tears in their eyes into a distance unknown.

Not far around the corner the coffin opened of course and I suppose they all drank tea happily before replaying it all again. They were a few of the actors and entertainers that populated the successful ‘Dickens Festival’ in the beautiful city center of Deventer. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend there visiting and taking hundreds of photos, having wonderful conversations and enjoying tea, hot wine and the hospitality of the Deventer people. It was a truly amazing weekend and an example of how tens of thousands of people could have a great couple of days enjoying the visual spectacle of past times revived.

Everything was perfect. The clothes were amazing and many – if not all – of the people wearing the Victorian fashion enjoyed themselves as much as the crowd passing in the streets. Everything went smoothly and I didn’t see or hear a false note at all. What a great way to live up to Christmas this was. No matter what will happen I’m sure I’ll visit the Dickens Festival next year again. Maybe in a more perfected Victorian dress than my improvised outfit that I wore this weekend. I came back home with an immense amount of inspiration for the work on my new novel and a lot of new ideas I can use.

Thanks to the organising committee and the people of Deventer. It’s been marvelous!

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij


Booktitles. Finding the proper title for the book one writes is kind of killing. Sometimes it just works. My last book made its own title. This time however I’ve been manipulating titles for quite sometime. Currently third incarnation of my new novels title is there. This one will stay for as I’m concerned. The previous two titles are incorporated in the book, I’ll explain.

My newest novel is titled ‘Lachrymae‘, the Latin word for ‘tears’. The books is actually two books in one. The first part about Mary Lloyd is subtitled ‘The Angel of Kensington‘, because that’s what she was in her time. The second part, subtitled ‘The Improbability of Love‘ is about Lena Dene and her love for Mary. At least, this is what the books seems to be about if one would stay at the surface. But when digging deeper the book is actually about women who were surprisingly emancipated in a non emacipated age. It’s about love and death. The great themes. And it is about relationships between women (and sometimes men) and the consequences of relationships and the state people are in at different points in their life. The book deals with sickness and how to live (and love) with e genital defect. At the turn of the twentieth century in a post Victorian society with the same hangups that our society seems to have fallen back to.

Lachrymae, I am slowly starting to love the inert quality of the word. For the dutch language version it is perfectly ok, in the English language version this a undecided. It’s how languages work, one never knows for sure what to choose.

© 2012 Alice Anna

A postcard from Jane.

Today, to my surprise, I received a postcard from Jane. Jane Morris. She lived in England between 1839 and 1914. She was a model. In those Victorian times she was one of the three grand ladies of painting next to Elisabeth Siddal who was portrayed as Ophelia by the great painter John Everett Millais and Dorothy Dene, one of the three muses I am writing about in my new novel. Dorothy was no doubt the most beautiful of the three but she was a kind of Marilyn Monroe and died at a too early age of 39 presumably of laudanum overdose but probably due to an abortion that went wrong.

Anyway, Jane Morris was as a model rather surprisingly probably the most successful of the three women. She was married to a known and respected painter and by that was wealthy compared to others. And she was the lover of Dante Gabriel Rosetti, the prince charming of the pre Raphaelites. Jane is the most portrayed and Jane was no doubt the least talented of the three models in those days. Dorothy was an actress and Elisabeth Siddal a very talented paintress. Jane however was a model of vry humble working class descent, her talent being a mystifying beauty and an enduring inspiration to both Rosetti as her husband William Morris.

So, Jane wrote me a few days ago from London. Having lunch on a boat not far from the Tate where her portraits hang, in between writing her lifestory. A couple of months ago we’ve met in a café just around the corner where I live. She told me about her life and I told her about mine. You see, I identify as much with Lena Dene as my table partner identifies with Jane. Lena is, as you might already know from my other writings, the younger and unknown sister of the fore mentioned Dorothy and in real life was named Isabell Helena Pullen, a cockney girl by birth. Anyway I talked to Jane, or her reincarnation, that day and was struck by the amazing resemblence of her with the Jane from way back then. During the following months I researched for my book and in the process thought of this Jane many times. I saw her portraits hundreds of times. And now I received this wonderful postcard. Seems she’d been thinking of me too in the past time and as she wrote followed my advice, went back to London and started writing. I wonder what will come of that.

Hopefully we’ll meet again soon.

© 2012 Alice (Lena) Anna Verheij


Yesterday was great. Just like the day before. Traveling, enjoying beauty and friendship. Photographing the beauty of the world. The days gave me images like these:

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And they’re beautiful as you can see.

Today however was an extreme contrast. The mailbox brought mixed surprises. A bad one that clearly demonstrates the complexity of life that to me has become like a Gordian knot, impossible to untie. And it brought me my new ‘business’ cards. The old ones are finished, so I needed new ones. I like the new ones that are more connected with my life now. The front shows my writing desk and the manuscript I work on. The back side shows the two most important things I do. Finishing the documentary and writing the novel.

Looking at the card and thinking about the coming months I know that choices need to be made. About the novel, about the film, about my own future and ultimately about my life. Working on the film will continue until it’s finished, we target at end of year but my co-producer won’t be around in December and I will not make this film the solitary product it has been while filming it. So it might take a few more months and probably be relased about a year later than was intended. I guess that’s how things are when making films on a tight budget with little resources. But we’ll get there and the changed concept has made it a lot easier to get it done.

The novel is something else. I work on it on an almost daily basis now. Sometimes I skip a day. The research is almost done except for some location visits in London. They will probably happen when spring comes near early next year. And I know I now need to isolate myself from the normal daily life to be able to write the book. Everything is there already, story, chracters, scenes, dramatic development and controversial subtopics. So, what I will do is to make a winter writing break starting early December.

Which is a good thing as I hate the fall and winter and the holidays scare me. I detest Christmas and don’t want to be part of it. Every year it is bugging me more. Probably because of the deepfelt lonelyness that catches me in December. So to add things up, I will go in a retreat during December. I’ll skip the traditional festivities because they hurt me and hide myself somewhere in the countryside in a small hideaway without internet. My only connection to the outside world will be the a car that enables me to do the shopping for food and a phone. Which will probably be switched off most of the time. Where exactly I will be is something I will not disclose. And at the end of year around New Years eve I expect to have finished the bulk of the work on the manuscript og my new novel. After that others will correct it and the discussions with publishers will start. Because this book is to be published differently from the previous ones.

So, for anyone concerned, it is no use to try to contact me in December. I won’t be there. Only a handful of people will know my whereabouts and some friends will know my phonenumber which will be different from the one on my card. I expect to return early 2013. This month I will try to get most of the essential things managed to enable me to jump out of the loop. It’s about time I do so.

Alice Anna

The Writing Desk.

Yesterday I did something tremendously important. I created the writing desk for my next book. A couple of months I was lucky when somewhere else in the house I live in a small desk became available. It is the perfect little desk that can be closed to lock away things and opened to give me a writing spot that’s near perfection.

I am writing a novel about the women at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. I live in a late nineteenth century house in a late nineteenth century part of town in a almost cliché writers room. Small and cluttered with my belongings breathing an atmosphere of past times and orientalism. My room connects with my work. The desk is made of wood and comes from the 1950’s or earlier. It is small but big enough for work and for storage of the books I need. It can hold a vase with flowers and my personal things like the little china boxes and perfume bottles. It has a seat for some of the furries that have value for me and – out of sight – is a handmirror I use for morning make up and to look myself in the eyes every now and then.

Writing a novel requires a well arranged location to do that. Every book has it’s own specific spot. The first one was a café, the second one another café. The third was my bed and the fourth was again a café which actually played a significant role in the novel. Novel five was written in a mountain camp on a small terrace with just a small table in complete isolation overlooking the Himalayans. The perfect spot to keep me in the right mood for that book. The result is Headwind, Laxmi’s Story and was published recently. (Buy it here!). That ‘desk’ looked like this:

And as humble as it looks, when the view is unveiled I had while writing one can imagine that writing a novel in such a place is literally a breeze. Sorry for making anyone jealous. Of course Kakani, the place in the Nuwakot area close to Kathmandu is fixed in my memory like a beautiful dream. In fact I quite often dream about that place.
But, my next novel is somethings else. It is a book about beauty and decay, love and limitations, models, painters, sculpters and the occasional poet. It’s about the love between two women that could be labelled as lesbian love but was much more than that and about the need and importance of adjusting ones sexuality to the circumstances in life. And because of that it is a book about myself. Hence the mirror in my desk.

My room has old things in it. A 1910 Underwood typewriter. Little bronzes and books, a lot of books everywhere. There’s a chandelier and the kiss from Klimt is on the wall covering almost all of that wall. And now, there is this little desk that will become like a second home and where I no doubt will spend a lot of my time writing. The desk in Kakani is no longer there as a desk. No traces left. The writing spots in the café’s are just tables for people to have a coffee or a lunch. My bed is what it is, my bed. And what will become of this desk? Will it survive after the work is done? Or will it stay with me and become the basis of work to come?

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

The Improbability of Love.

‘The Improbability of Love’. This is the title of my upcoming novel. In Dutch ‘De Onwaarschijnlijkheid van liefde’. The writing of this novel has just started after over 6 months of research on a few characters who will the protagonists and antagonists in the story. It will be written in Dutch but if possible an Englisch translation will become available soon after the book is finished. How that will be done is yet uncertain but there some possibilities showing their lovely faces at the horizon.

The ‘Improbabilty of Love’ will as it is now no doubt be a step beyond what I have done so far as a writer. The reason why I am certain about that is that this book will have a large autobiographical angle to it. In previous novels I wrote about topics like youngsters being adventurous in a hot air balloon traveling over Africa, women fighting trafficking in Nepal and the Netherlands and in my last work a young refugee woman telling about her past life in a refugee camp and the challenges of integrating in western society and being seperated from her lover who lives in America. All of these topics were about others than myself.

In ‘The Improbability of Love’ I will walk a different path. The story is a tremondous tale about beauty and decay, love and sexuality, art and growing old. It’s told by to women who choose to live together and who developped a deep love for each other, against the morale of the time and against the fate that coloured both of their lives.

Mary, the protagonist of te first part of the book, is one of the most beautiful women in British art at the end of the nineteenth century. She sits as a model for the most famous painters and sculptures but due to her past she remains unknown. Just a face and a body being painted. But she lives and breathes and loves. She falls in love with another female model. And disaster strikes.

Lena, the protagonist of the second part of the book, is also a model. But she has a humble and poor background in contrast with Mary. She is younger and she was born with a defect that defined her life and femininity. Many years after Mary has lost the love of her life, they meet and fall in love.

But can they live together? How do you live as two women, as lovers, together in the first part of the twentieth century in London? And most of all how do you overcome the challenge of sexuality when one is hindered by physical limitations? Lastly, how does life treat you when beauty decays and you grow old.

‘The Improbability of Love’ raises questions about growing old and about female sexuality in a situation where someone cannot love in a traditional manner because of the limitations of a birth defect. It touches upon topics like crossing physical boundaries and accepting that there is more than physical love possible. It discusses the morale of the time between the 1890’s and 1930’s in London. And it takes you on a journey through time to an age where beauty was defined different than nowaways and sexuality was a topic that was only discussed behind closed doors. It takes you to the time of the post Victorian pre Raphaelites, the painters, sculpters, poets and models. To people who lived an avant garde life and a loose sexual morale in contrast to a tied up society. But who were responsible for a new definition of art and aesthetics. But most of all ‘The Improbability of Love’ will let you get acquanted with two beautiful women and their undying love for each other. It will let you become friends with Mary and Lena.

Mary and Lena are not fictituous. They have lived in reality. Many aspects of their characters, their friendships and loves, the social network they lived in, did exist in reality. They can still be seen, portrayed by many famous painters. They are still there, in the Tate Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Leighton House and many musea all over the world. They are still the most beautiful English roses, even almost a hundred years after they died. This story will reintroduce the time of post Victorian and Edwardian art as it was made in Londen, in Holland Park and Kensington.

The challenge for me in writing this novel is that the character of Lena Dene, who is the protagonist in the second part of the book will be transformed and become a mirror of myself. This will make the second part of the book highly autobiographic but in a literary way. Lene experiences what I experience in life. She will ask the questions I ask myself but do not have an answer to. She lives a tragedy similar to the most dark part in my own life. I am not Lena, she is not me. But we share a challenge that has never before be covered in a novel. This alone makes this book a groundbreaking novel that touches on a topic unknown to most people. By this nature it will be the most complicated work I have ever made, but at the same time it is already becoming the summit of literary work until now. And believe me, that a pretty scary thought. Hence the title I’ve chosen.

In the coming months this book will be written and the story of these two women will unfold itself. Next year, you will be able to read it.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Twee onvergetelijke tentoonstellingen op komst.

Vanaf half september tot na sinterklaas worden er twee onvergetelijke tentoonstellingen gehouden door mij en mijn collega Eveline van de Putte.

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Van 15 september tot en met 26 oktober is UNFORGOTTEN te zien in de Domkerk in Utrecht. Daarna zal deze tentoonstelling van 10 november tot 7 december te zien zijn in Café & gallerie Quirky in Den Haag.
UNFORGOTTEN is een tentoonstelling met de beste foto’s uit ons bestand van 18.000 foto’s die we in het kader van het Headwind project gemaakt hebben in Nepal, Sikkim (India) en Nederland. De foto’s laten het leven van de vluchtelingen uit Bhutan zien in de kampen in Nepal en gaat in op de resettlement van hun waardoor zij in enkele jaren in diaspora worden gebracht.

  • 15 september – 26 oktober
    Domkerk Utrecht
    Project presentatie en vernissage met live muziek op zondag 23 september om 12.30u.
  • 10 november – 7 december
    Café & galerie Quirky, Tasmanstraat 128 Den Haag
    Vernissage en fundraising dinner (traditioneel Nepalees-Bhutaanse schotel) met live muziek op zaterdag 10 november om 18.00u.
    Reserveren gewenst. Prijs: €20 waarvan €5 gedoneerd wordt aan de Empowerment Foundation voor het Headwind project.

Reserveren is gewenst en kan op 070 3808502 of info@cafequirky.com

* In English *

From September 15 until October 26 UNFORGOTTEN, the photo exhibition, can be seen at the Domchurch in Utrecht. UNFORGOTTEN will be brought there in co-operation with the Domchurch Citypastoraat.
Special presentation of Headwind and UNFORGOTTEN is on Sunday September 23rd at 1 PM.

From November 10 until December 7 UNFORGOTTEN will travel to Cafe & gallery Quirky in the Tasmanstraat 128 in The Hague. The vernissage on Saturday November 10 will be followed by a fundraising dinner at 6 PM. Cost €20 of which €5 is donated to the Empowerment Foundation’s Headwind project. Reervations needed and can be made at 070 3808502 or info@cafequirky.com.

The Story of Mary Lloyd.

She was a beautiful and praised model at the end of the 19th century. Then she was forgotten.
Until 1933 when a newspaper article told her sad story to it’s readers. The she was forgotten again.
Until 1996 when Dr. Martin Postle, a British art historian discovered photographs of Lord Frederic Leighton’s atelier just after he died showing multiple paintings for which Mary posed. Just like she posed for Frederic Brock when he made the Victoria Memorial years later. Then she was forgotten again.
Until I saw the painting by Frederic Leighton titled ‘Flaming June’ and learned about the dispute regarding the model who sat for Leighton when he painted this painting. That triggered and puzzled me. And when I found out about Mary’s story there was no way back for me.

Mary Lloyd, the forgotten model is the main character in my upcoming Dutch language novel (hopefully to be translated into English later) De Engel van Kensington (The Angel from Kensington). Although large parts of Mary’s life are unknown and impossible to retrieve from the past the story of Mary Lloyd, the upper middle class girl who became a painters model and lived a rather quiet life, is a beautiful story full of 19th century fin de siècle atmosphere, 20th century interbellum excitement and love.

Mary Lloyd who at seventy was still a beautiful woman leading a poor life as a seamstress and housekeeper but looking back at a wonderful modelling career, deep friendships, beautiful art a two loves of her life. So, what really happened in Mary’s life?

The Angel from Kensington is planned for publication before Christmas 2012. The story of Mary Lloyd starts again today.

Alice Anna © 2012

The benefits of being ill (for a while).

Sometimes life travels at lightspeed for some. The reasons why are usually a totally unpredictable combination of events, challenges, situations and probably more known factors like character, emotion, personality, ambition and health. For me it’s not difficult to attach something personal to all of these words but the last one has, for the time being, become like the sand in the machine. And that was about time.

There’s no need or ambition in me to go through that whole string of words but a few things are at this moment determining my life in the short term. That is until expectedly the end of this year.

So I fell ill. An intense flu crossed my path and although that is no drama at all for me it meant that I for the first time in many months was forced to take a break. If only for a week or two. And taking a brake from work, obligations, efforts and ambitions forces one to think. Usually.

In the coming months is a lot of work waiting for me and with a lot of luck I’ll be able to get it done before summer. The long awaited novel is getting printed and so are two photobooks. The latter two however still have to be produced from ground up and that is quite a job even for someone like me who is able to make beautifully layouted work in a relative short timespan. And then of course there’s the big one. The film. Still so much to do and so much of it only possible to be done by me. It was, is and will be the biggest time consumer for at least another couple of months. That isn’t everything on the agenda. Because I am turning this work of writing, filming, photographing and publishing my profession rapidly. I know exactly what I want to do in the next part of my life and in fact I have been doing that already since about two years. It feels good, it is me out there doing what I love.

But there’s also the demonic shadow of the past preventing me to build a business of it in my home country because of a business past gone bad (nothing special there either but the left overs are still quite unmanageable). So if I want to do what I do on a solid basis I will have to work internationally. The good news is, I love that. Still, being stranded by illness for a while does force me to revise plans. Not in the least because when out of the performance loop the mind starts asking questions. Making reality checks. And so plans change.

Sure, I still will start to work from abroad for a large portion of the year as soon as it can be arranged. Economics will decide when, I decide if. But the timelines and the way this will happen shift, turn and change. It is not realistic for me to work from Nepal as a home base. I will however keep visiting the country I love so dearly and keep following, filming and reporting the fate of my Bhutanese friends in and around the refugee camps. Not because I promised but because I see that as an obligation to do so. There are more angles to the Nepalese society and the developments of Nepal that I want to report about. But it will never be my only world.

I am still a novel writer and that will not change, just like my love for writing poetry and songs for entertainment. So there will always be times when I am not in Asia or anywhere else for local reporting or filming but in stead I’ll be somewhere, anywhere, writing a novel. And the topic will not necessarily be connected to previous work because my very being as a literary artist doesn’t allow fixation.

So what does all of this mean for the plans I had and for a part still have?

Well, I am the journalist writer, photographer and filmer interested and focussed on human and women rights in South Asia. No doubt about that. But maybe after finishing the film not for this year anymore. Probably if not almost certainly next year again. But I am also the heremit writer in a soft spot somewhere writing that next novel. The sort of novel is already decided and quietly I am starting up research for it already. It is going to be very different from previous work, a challenge to write (that’s never a surprise) and a very special book. And I will also every now and then take the stage with a song or a short story in whatever show with dear theatre friends.

It will mean that I will not leave my country permanently. It will mean that I will leave my country intermittently, sometimes for long periods. But I’ll always be back for long periods. Like this year. Because this year, after the dust has settled of the books and the film and the two years of work involving the Bhutanese exiles issue, I will take a break for something very different, to keep myself in shape and not loose myself in one topic to work on and to take care that my mind stayes free. (I will not drop the topic of the Bhutanese, I can’t but it will be not the main focus for some time.)

Sometime this summer the real work on my new novel will start in traditional writing style. Designing the essence of the story, the plot if there is one to be, the characters, events, images and emotions. It will be England from roughly the end of the 19th century until the 1930’s. It will be distiguished romantic painters and one specific exquisitly beautiful model. A girl who became a model by fate and lost that work also by fate, never known by the public by her real name because she was not so high class savvy as that other famous painters model in that time but by the names of Greec goddesses or biblical Heroïns and who faded away in history but by her image remained unforgettable. I long to write about the life and loves of that woman who was once ‘Flaming June’. And this novel is one that will take quite some time to write wether I am in the flow or not. But it is a certainty that this will be my next major work.

Alice © 2012

Welcome visitor number 300.000!

Well well, today this site will see it’s 300.000 visit since I started it all. Thanks dear friends. And as I am at a Nepal conference today I have no time to post this at the exact right moment, but who cares. Anyway, this writer / director and professional human being is grateful for the support and continuous flow of readers over here. I love you guys and girls and please keep coming back.


For my fans, if any, just a little picture of me at my best and happiest in beautiful Sikkim not so long ago.

New flyer for Headwind available for immediate distribution.

In a last CALL FOR ACTION the Headwind production team is working together with the new eu1.tv pan European tv channel (available on cable and internet) by Ziggo and UPC. In the coming week both the new trailer as a new way of crowdfunding will be published on the eu1.tv website. To support that effort we will distribute flyers on the Movies That Matter film festival starting off in The Hague on March 22 at the Filmhuis.

director and producer of Headwind 

This is the flyer:

Short trailer of Headwind released today.

Today the short trailer of Headwind is released with a call for support and funding.
More information about the film can be found at http://www.headwindfilm.com.
The trailer will be published on http://www.eu1.tv too later today.

We still need substantial funding for the completion of this film.

director of Headwind

Photo fun.

Today was probably the first good day in the year. For photography that is. So we (me and two of my kids) went to the Gemeentemuseum  in my hometown The Hague. Probably the best museum we have in the Netherlands and certainly the one with the most challenging architecture, designed by Berlage early in the past century. I love the place and it is both an architects as a photographers dream.

And as I have the privilege of being able to work with a magnificent camera and just as magnificent lens it was high time to give the pair a good test. The slideshow on this page is the result and contains some of the best pictures made today. I hope you’ll like them.

Deze slideshow heeft JavaScript nodig.

Obviously I am not so much a portrait photographer but with this equipment and my daughter and youngest son I had a lot of fun making these. The exhibition was about miniatiruzation so there were doll’s houses, dolls, miniature furniture and even miniature real art in a miniature real art gallery. Totally amazing and some of the photos are made in a way that it’s almost impossible to understand that it’s miniatures you’re looking at. So, watch the slideshow and have a little fun.

All photos are of course copyrighted and not for redistribution in any form without my consent.

Alice © 2012

Call for Action: the importance of free Bhutanese journalism in Nepal.

A couple of days ago I wrote an article on this website to advocate the role of journalism for the Bhutanese community in exile. I did that after a fire incident hit the Beldangi 2 refugee camp near Damak in the Jhapa district of Nepal. The whole situation concerning information flow of the events proved the importance of adequate and independent journalism in the region.

Yesterday I received further information on the challenging situation the free journalists focussing on the Bhutanese refugees / exiles are. For many years now they have been covering the situation and major events for this large group of people with almost no financial means. On their own pockets and with little support from abroad. And because these journalists are refugees themselves they have to be careful as they are not issued formal journalists status in Nepal. Refugees are not allowed to do paid work outside the refugee camps.

Journalists and community workers from Bhutan Media Society bringing relief to fire victims in Sanischare camp,
Morang District, Nepal, summer 2011. (Photo © 2011 Alice Verheij)

Their challenges are not only financial. Due to the nature of long term refuge in camps (more than 20 years now) it is only logical that tensions rise frequently inside the refugee community inside the camps and the Nepalese communities around these camps and in nearby villages. Working as a journalist coming from the refugee community means that one has to toe the line quite often. Some of these men (unfortunately only men are doing this work) are threatened or even abused. The work can easily become from relaxed to difficult to dangerous. Only their perseverance and conviction that free journalism is the essence of a free peoples has been and still is keeping them active.

Bhutan is not a free country and threats are often coming from Bhutan to the more active refugees in the community who inevitable critisize the government of their country that has exiled them. Nepal is not a completely democratic and liberal country although much progress has been made in the past six years after the revolution that abolished the monarchy. In present day Nepal there still is an instable government and freedom of press is not something that can be taken for granted. The number of attacked journalists is unfortunately impressive. This poses an extra danger to the work of the Bhutanese journalists in exile.

Lastly there is the massive UN guided resettlement going on. This means that some of the group of active young journalists are leaving the area to be resettled in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmakr, the UK or the Netherlands. So continuous refreshment of resources is essential to keep proper journalistic work alive and news regarding the situation in the refugee camps flowing. It is therefore that a lot of things are needed. Equipment, training and good connections with the journalistic community in Nepal and abroad.

Much of what is needed is still there but to be honest journalism is endangered strongly. These journalists need support. Urgently. Their running cost mounts to some 535 dollars per month to keep the websites online and the journalists at work. That amount of money is needed for transport and media access and normal running costs. Thankfully there is a free news agency setup some years ago. The Bhutan News Service. They as a group are connected with a community aid group the Bhutan Media Society and they keep the websites www.bhutannewsservice.comwww.apfanews.com and www.radiobhutanonline.com alive and kicking.

And now they are about to go down. The funds are exhausted, there are no reserves available and support is low. The exiled community globally is not economically alive to the level that it can be expected that they on their own will be able to cater for the cost.

I myself have been working with these journalists extensively in the past one and a half year. I know their qualities and their sacrifices. I know what they can do and I know that if they can no longer work that the effect will destroy one of the last remains of freedom for the Bhutanese living in the camps in Nepal.


If you want to help them, please contact me through email at alice.verheij@xs4all.nl. I would like to work with anyone who understands the importance of free journalism in refugees communities and am able to channel support to the right people and organizations. Any media organization, Journalistic educational facility or individual journalist is kindly requisted to contact me and step in to build a proper financial backing for these young and strong journalists and to facilitate training facilities for the upcoming generation of free Bhutanese journalists.

Alice Verheij © 2012
director Headwind (www.headwindfilm.com)
friend of Bhutan Media Society

Headwind and bad times.

Within a couple of weeks my world has turned for the worse. I experience a shitload of headwind.

For whatever reason my love left me, the exact reasons are still a bit unclear although some hints are there. No one to blame. After that came creative crisis. Poetry is far away, theatre performance went well but the videorecording failed tragically (can’t do camera and perform at the same time) and a few days ago my allowance was decreased with more than 30% leaving me with not enough money to live. Rent, health care and normal dayli things leave me without enough money for food. Hard times ahead. And to top it all the effort of finishing Headwind is for whatever reason anyone has until now still more than 90% depending on me. Too little support, to little progress, too little co-operation. It is so clear that if I would stop working on this film it will never hit the screens. That alone makes that this is essence a film made by with. With some support but not enough by any length. Financially this film project has made gone all the way into post production with a reasonable balance sheet but also with ruining my personal economic life. Productionwise it still is mainly me effort, no matter what has been tried so far to expand that effort and have others become co-creators. Currently I am doing camera, audio recording, soundtrack building, audio and video editing, directing and 90% of the producing, writing and financing myself. That is not a good feeling at all.

So I have to get back in fighting mode but somehow I really can’t. Too damned tired of it all. Because doing this all on my own is just too much. But ok, I’ll put up another fight, like I’ve always done but there is little pleasure left in my life especially as I feel so very much displaced with my heart and emotions left in Nepal and my body in this cold, grey and cynical country. From whatever perspective my personal life is a total shambles. Single, desolated, technically bankrupt and creatively worn out. This time the fight is extra tough and I have no idea how long it will take to get on my feet again.

A few things are clear however.

I will finish my film no matter what happens and my finished novel will be published. No idea where or how to get thefunds for it, but it will certainly be finalized in the coming two months. After that all I do will be connected with making my personal life manageable, because at this stage it certainly isn’t. And when that point is reached I will be gone. Leaving this country for as long as possible beause I do not want to spend the rest of my life in this land. I cannot survive here and I feel out of place an useless. I hope that some time soon I will be able to go and place my life in the hands of whatever God / Gods and dedicate what’s left of it to writing, filming and showing the western world the gravity of life in South Asia. Because it is high time that that region with all it’s challenges becomes more known to the west.

I feel I am finished here and as always before in my life I know that this means I have to go elsewhere. And no matter what, I will be able to finish what I started and what I love to do when I feel a bit better: finishing Headwind and bringing my work to the screen. And that is not easy, not easy at all. But it certainly is worth all the crap that is happening to me. Because there are people waiting for that film to come to their screens. Unfortunately in the west most people don’t give a damn about knowing the reality of forgotten exiles let alone support the making of a film. In the end it is like with most guerilla filmers: you make it because there is no way not to do that, wether anyone is interested or not.

Alice © 2012

Writer’s Block went global.

Today was a fun day. Valentines day, a day with gifts. Self induced gifts. First there were the wonderful pictures of my love and my best friend in Nepal, a lovely surprise during a long and loving Yahoo chat. Then there was of course the release – finally – of the first official trailer of the film I am making. A milestone for the production team. And on top of that I can say that as of today Writer’s Block has gone global.

Image by Flag Counter based on 1 month of monitoring Writer’s Block.

After a few years of writing on this website and a recent change from Dutch to English as the first and main language on my website I got the visual acknowledgement that Writers Block is being read all over the globe, on all continents. From Europe, to America, to Asia, Australia and even Africa. Obviously the largest audience is in Europe but the US is following strong and there is a great spread happening in South Asia. Not really a surprise but certainly something that I like very much.

Thanks everyone for reading and responding. Thanks for supporting and please keep coming back!

Alice ©  2012

Is resettlement a solution and a success?

As you all know I am pretty much involved with the fate of the Bhutanese exiles and especially with ones who have been resettled to my country and the ones who are left behind in the refugee camps in Nepal.

Today I read the following on Bhutan News Service, the webzine that is the only viable news source from the global Bhutanese community with good access to the refugee camps and the communities in the resettlement countries. They have become a trusted and all important news agency for te Bhutanese people focussing on Bhutanese in exile. No matter what the Bhutanese government is saying by the way. Anyway, this is what was written:

If everything goes as projected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and resettling countries, at least 10.37 percent of exiled Bhutanese are likely to remain in the camps when the ongoing resettlement program ceases by 2015.

The initial camp population of 113, 486 has come down to 54,652 as 58,834 individuals have left for various western countries by January 19 this year, according to the UNHCR.

In total, 49,396 exiled refugees have left for the US, 4,213 for Canada, 3,217 for Australia, 589 for New Zealand, 612 for Denmark, 372 for Norway, 324 for the Netherlands, and 111 for the United Kingdom.

Of the remaining residents, at least 42,873 individuals have declared an interest in resettlement. Once this figure leaves for resettlement, the camp population will come down to 11,779.

The information is – as always – pretty reliable. But honestly, it’s also incomplete. Because the figures do not take into account the reality completely. Thing is, in the refugee camps live another over 3,500 refugees who have for various reasons not been registered as refugee by the Nepal government and therefore do not show up in the UN based statistics. So, if policy doesn’t change and there poor people are not counted and their situation managed properly the real figure of the population in the camps (by 2014 probably only the Beldangi camp will be left) will be closer to 15.000.

Giving a Journalism Training in Beldangi 2 camp, Summer 2011

And that is not all. Not all refugees live in the camps. Some (and their number really is unknown) live outside the camps in Nepal. Often in dire straits as they have no civil rights. And many live in India in Sikkim, Assam and elsewhere. Still they too are refugees, the ones in India obviously not acknowledged as such because there is the 1948 treaty between Bhutan and India stating that Bhutanese are allowed to travel, live and work in India. But these are the ones that can not return to Bhutan. They are just as well refugees and their figure is unknown. Only estimates exist that run upto 20.000.

So the worst case scenario of the number of remaining Bhutanese refugees in the Himalayan region really should be close to 35.000 and not less than 12.000 in 2014.
It is the way figures like these 11,779 in 2014 are communicated by the UN and the international community that assist in the cover up of reality. So the UNHCR statement that the resettlement is a success is based on the reality of the statistics simply not true. Of course it’s also not a failure, but a success is really sometinhg else.

The other thing that’s against the PR from the international community is the thoughts that resettlement is a good solution to the problem. Well, honestly is many cases of young people it certainly is for them. But many resettlers are older than 35. Which means that it is not certain they will be able to adjust to western society and for the elderly it is pretty clear that they never will. The social issues in the resettled communities are diverse and form a heavy burden. Issues like lack of possibilities to exercise religion, home sickness, loss of culture, conflicts in families because age differences and adjustment problems to western society, broken friendships and continuing long distance family ties that are increasingly difficult to handle are but a few of the issues burdening resettled refugees. Life is often a struggle that is not always lessened by resettlement. Because:

Imagine being in 40 years old.
Imagine that in the past you were driven into exile and ended up without any hope for a decent future in a refugee camp.
Imagine living under bamboo roofs and simple soil for most of your life. Next to the river where the dead are being cremated.
Imagine loosing sight of friends and family who have been resettled from your daily existence.
Imagine that one day you might very well resettle to a far away country with a culture that is completely different from your own.
Imagine you have children whom you want to have a better life.
Imagine that in reality you long to return to the country you were born.
Imagine there is no mandir to go to.
Imagine not to be able to eat the food you are used too… because it’s nowhere to be found.
Imagine living a town or village and being the only one from your people, being the alien in the minds of your neighbours and anyone else.
Imagine having to learn another very complicated language in a few years to be able to have some sort of life, and if you don’t succeed you’ll get a penalty or will not ever get a passport meaning you will never really be free.
Imagine all that…

Would that be seen as a success? Western society does a lot for refugees who have been resettled but still it starts of as a completely alien place to live. Surviving there is not easy at all and while in the end most will find their way through perseverence it is never an easy path to go. And western society is not becoming nicer to immigrants. So, where UNHCR speaks of a success it should also push the governments of the resettlement countries to really take their responsibilities and support the immigrants and their communities to find some sort of new life that is acceptable. These responsibilities are certainly not always met because much support is being broken down as an effect of the global financial crisis leaving imigrants more on their own and with less support than is reasonable. And don’t forget, once resettled there is no way back. Ever.

It is for all this that I will have to continue writing, filming an photographing the reality of the Bhutanese resettlement. Because in my country, in the west, most people simply have no idea.

If you feel that you might be able to support me, the Headwind team and the Empowerment Foundation, please make that decision and do so. It’s easy. Buy a Headwind production share or become donor. Help us finishing the documentary that will dive into the issue of the Bhutanese in exile and resettlement. The first feature length film that covers it all and will be screened globally. We need your support and we need it now! Send an email to alice@empowermentfoundation.nl or goto to the Headwind website and check the crowdfunding page!

Alice © 2012