The End.

Beste lezers,

Vandaag is er een einde gekomen aan mijn publicatiestroom op deze website. Writer’s Block is niet meer. Na zeven jaar en zo’n 1550 teksten is het tijd voor iets anders. Het stopzetten van Writer’s Block valt samen met veranderingen in mijn leven en werk die ik al heel lang wens. Soms komen dromen uit.

Mijn werk zal voortaan, voor zover ik daar behoefte aan heb, ontsloten worden via reguliere media en mijn geheel nieuwe persoonlijke website www.aliceannaverheij.nl. Writer’s Block zal als archief van mijn werk tot op heden beschikbaar blijven. Dit echter is de laatste tekst hier, nummer 1548.

Ik dank jullie allemaal voor het bezoek hier, het lezen en reageren en de vele vriendschappen die Writer’s Block mij bracht. Ik zie jullie graag weer tijdens exposities, via mijn boeken, social media of www.aliceannaverheij.nl. Voor informatie over mijn werk en bedrijf verwijs ik graag naar www.woordenstorm.nl.

Den Haag 12 juli 2013,
Alice Anna Verheij

Dear readers,

Today, Writer’s Block has ceased to exist. After seven years of writing in this place and almost 1550 publications its time for something else. Stopping with my Writer’s Block coincides with major changes in my life and work that I’ve always dreamt of. Sometimes dreams do come true.

From now on my work will, when I desire so, be brought to you through regular media and my completely new personal website www.aliceannaverheij.nl. Writer’s Block will stay available as an online archive of my work until this date. This is the last contribution to Writer’s Block, number 1548.

I thank all of you for reading and responding, for the friendships that Writer’s Block has brought me. I would love to see you again at my exhibitions, through my books, social media and www.aliceannaverheij.nl. For information regarding my work and company I gladly refer to www.woordenstorm.nl.

The Hague, July 12, 2013

Advertenties

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story – still available.

In 2011 and early 2012 I wrote the English language novel ‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’ about a young Bhutanese woman who was born in a refugee camp in Nepal after her parents were exiled from the supposed to be Shangri-La country Bhutan. Laxmi was resettled by the UNHCR (United Nations refugee agency) to the Netherlands. In her story she looks back at het past life in the camp and tells about her struggle to create a new life in a society that is alien to her. And all the time she longs for her true love, the boy she grew up with in the camp and who now lives in the United States as a resettler.

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story is about coming of age in between cultures, about the life as a refugee and a migrant. About having to struggle for a decent life and about a love that seems impossible. It’s about the caste system that is a fundament underneath the Hindu society and the changes that come when people are taken from their home, their country, culture an religion and implanted in a modern society. But above all it’s a story about a young woman with a difficult past who fights her way through life, like most refugees do.

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story is still available through mailorder in the Empowerment Foundation’s bookshop or directly through me. Here you’ll find the first chapter of the novel to get a grip with the story of Laxmi. Click here for Headwind, Laxmi’s Story Sample. You can buy the book here. All earnings are donated to the Empowerment Foundation in support of their empowerment project.

headwind front coverHeadwind, Laxmi’s Story Sample

 

 

The greatest show on earth.

I went inside. A small square table right in the center of the mirrored wall. Well, all walls were mirrored but I mean the one facing the Boulevard de Saint Germain-des-Prés.

Paris, Café de Flore. I’m chasing the footsteps and memory of Hemingway. Whenever I go to a place he went I feel some sort of personal connection. Unexplainable I guess. He’s not there anymore and I am too young to have been his lover. If I could have been I probably would have been. Anyway, Café de Flore in the Parisian center of literature and philosophy. Simone de Beauvoir sat here too. Maybe just like me but probably not alone but with Sartre sharing one of these small tables. And a café creme or more likely a glass of wine.

cafe de florePhoto: ‘Café de Flore’ © 2013 Alice Anna Verheij

Hemingway wrote that people who do not allow themselves the hugely overpriced coffee at Café de Flore are missing out on probably the greatest show on earth. I happen to agree. Because this café certainly is an ongoing show. More than it’s equally interesting neighbour Les Deux Magots, which I tried out the day before. One simply has to go in and sit at one of the tables and watch. Watch the waiters moving around. The place is lively even when only a handful of the 40 tables on the gournd floor are occupied and the rest of the guest are outside enjoying the terrace and the spring. The real show is inside. Through the open doors just before lunchtime you will find no less than 20 waiters running in and out with filled and emptied trays. Outside the peak hours their number deminishes to ‘just’ 12 and even they are sometimes pausing to chat with each other lively. But never for long. The waiter flirt with the women, the have a good eye for beauty looking at how the respond when challenged. The Amrican girls don’t notice it. The interior of the café is very art nouveau-ish. Light, lots of glass, squared shapes and ornaments and those little tables placed in an invisible grid in such a manner that it’s possible to travel full speed in between them with filled trays. The chairs are Thonet chairs in the variety with the 6 bars in a waiver shape at the back in between the elongated back legs. Little arcs in between the legs give them enough strength to withstand long term use by gravitational people.

A napkin is draped over the left arm and the tray rests on the right hand. The skirt is whiten and long ending just above the well polished shoes covering black trousers. The vest is as black as the trousers are and the shirt is toothpaste white. A black bow-tie is standard. Waiters really are waiters here. Their smile is tempting and inviting and has just about the same color as their shirts, independent of their age. Interesting. Although there’s the 20 of them running around they form a group of 50 on the café’s payroll. They accept tips with a slight nod and a smile, but tips are rarely given. I suppose the prices prevent people to give tips. In their wallet the waiters seem to have enough change to prevent them from unneeded walks to the cash register inside. Their walking route is twofold. The ones from the side terrace follow a high speed trail with a double wave making them zigzagging in the café, the ones from the Boulevard terrace have just one corner to handle. Both streams end at the right side of the mirrored fake wall behind which the kitchen is located. The connect with the line of waiting waiters who are emptying their trays, passing the orders and refilling their trays with earlier orders to deliver them to the guests after another high speed wave walk to the terrace or inside the café. The cutomers inside the café are left alone. There are just a few of us sitting at a few of the tables. The others are reading a newspaper or a book. I am writing, it’s quiet and I realize that there’s no music distracting us. A stranger stares outside with his mind wandering of to a place unknown.

The café creme is delivered on a silver platter. The cup and saucer, coffejug, milk jug and glass filled with water are all imprinted with ‘Café de Flore’. I guess they’re some sort of collectors item and I presume that because of that they are renewed very frequently. They look brandnew. The whole café is a time machine. From my table position I imagine that the view hasn’t changed much in the past eight or nine decades. There’s an unmatched level of perfection in displaying the past in a beautiful manner, even better then in that other time machine opposite the church. The mosaic of the tiled floor with the little waiver shaped in yellow and brown tints, the dark wooden chairs and tables, the tomato red seats, the mirrored walls divided by marble elements, the copper of theframes around the mirrors and off the illumination and the creamwhhite of the ceiling and the two lonely pillars in the middle of the café split the space in a darkish but interesting underworld and a light upper world. The murmur of talking people is everywhere all the time. Some people are silent.

Around lunchtime the number of inside customers quickly rises to the level that most of the little tables get occupied with cups, saucers, plates, glasses and cutlery. The noise level rises equivalently. The waiters still smile, no matter how hard they have to work. In retrospect I agree with Hemingway’s words. Visiting Paris without having coffee at the Café de Flore is worse than not seeing the Eiffeltower in Paris’ skyline when looking down from the Sacre Coeur. The patron at the door never smiles but shows a presidential expression overseeing his world of customers and waiters. His hands are almost permanently folded in front of him. When I finally leave we greet. A bientôt. I will come back soon I hope.

© 2013 Anna Ros

A lady, some dead poets and a painter’s academy.

Didn’t expect to find the one we did and not to find the one we wanted to. I mean, we were looking for that dead actress but found the lady instead. Lady Wilde to be exact. Oscar’s mom. According to her tombstone she wasn’t just his mother but also a nationalist (which is no surprise) and a women’s rights activist (which is a surprise to me). But also a pretty snobbish character according to Dave. Dave? Yes, Dave. The old guy we met at the graveyard and who visits the place twice a week every week. He likes the quiet atmosphere he said. And he loves to chat about the people who’s remains are lying there under the most fantastic stones, monuments and tombs. Surrounded by stone carved angels frozen in time. It’s a poets place shared with writers, theater people and painters, doctors and officers, gentlemen and their ladies.

lady wilde

So what’s snobbish about lady Wilde? Well, Dave told me that she had some desires concerning the place where her remains were to rest till eternity. A tree for instance. She demanded to be buried under a tree, which I can understand as she would be secured by crows and other creatures inhabiting the trees. Like the squirrels one can see running around the place. The snobbish thing however was her wish not to be born next to ‘commoners’. After all, lady Wilde was a lady and commoners where of the lower species in her opinion, I presume. I guess it’s forgiven by now.

Dave was quite a character and we met him by accident. The old man was about seventy years old I suppose and walking in the muddy paths in between the stones and monuments. He obviously knew his way around because for an hour or so he guided us through the maze of thousands of stones to the likes of William Thackeray, princess Sophia, some poets and writers and peculiar ladies. With stories as a company he clearly enjoyed showing some of the special monuments. From the Egyptian like tomb with the sphinxes around it, to the lady with the veil over het head and the tomb from which a tree grows without any roots in the ground. It made the place magical and the visit most enjoyable.

After the long walk it was nice to rest a bit at the pub just around the corner. A typical Victorian style building with high ceilings, dark wooden panelling, an endlessly long bar and just the right tables and chairs to be comfortable. The Mason’s Arms is an old one, named after the stone masons who would have been working next door carving stones and monuments.

The tube station is near and within minutes the underground brought us right into the heart of London for a non buying shopping spree in Oxford and Carnaby Street, Piccadilly, Soho and with some detours to Burlington House, the wonderful building where the Royal Academy of Arts was and still is seated. It is magnificent with beautifully painted ceilings, impressive stairways and an atmosphere which is inviting. Great exhibitions too but that wasn’t what we came for. It was the building with the seven arches at the entrance looking like enormous teeth in a monsters mouth waiting for people to step inside.

Time warp.

We’re in the Windsor Castle. The pub, not the castle. In Holland Park close to the Kensington area for which this whole visit is intended. The great thing about the place is that’s its still for the most part in its original state. Three areas separated by wooden walls to divide the customers. At the back is the Sherry Bar. In old times for men only. The 1835 pub was first a meeting place for farmers bringing cattle to the market in Hyde Park, then a meeting place for painters and poets and now for trendy and moderately wealthy locals. Most important me is that it is the very location where some of my novels characters used to meet long, long time ago. And it felt good to be there because it was everything I hoped for to find. An ideal spot for some key scenes in the lives of the ladies who have become a part of my life in such an unexpected manner.

A few hours later we’re back at the Mason’s Arms, drawing a bit and writing a bit in anticipation of what’s to waiting for us in the coming days.

© 2013 Alice Anna Verheij

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.

Flaming_June,_by_Fredrick_Lord_Leighton_(1830-1896)

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.

Love,
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

Starting January 2013: Creative Writing Course.

 

Booktitles

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

Retreat

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.

Deze slideshow heeft JavaScript nodig.

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.

Een kadootje voor mijn lezers.

Beste lezers,

soms moet je iets geks doen. Soms is dat heel zo gek niet.
Aangezien de drukkosten tegenwoordig hoog zijn en er geen fondsen zijn voor heruitgave van mijn debuutroman, gegeven dat ik die al lang in een eBook PDF versie klaar heb én gegeven dat ik gezien wat er allemaal dit jaar nog uitkomt aan nieuwe uitgaven, geef ik jullie hierbij een kado.

Daar is een reden voor. Ik ben een tegenstander van het beleid van het inmiddels demissionaire kabinet dat over zijn graf heen regeert en nog steeds allerlei maatregelen er door drukt die de samenleving schaden en de zwakken in de samenleving hard in de portemonnaie treffen. Ik ben een tegenstander van het beleid van de gemeente Den Haag die in navolging van dit cultuurbarbaarse kabinet de kunsten in Den Haag afslachten door intrekking van de steun aan het Koorenhuis waar duizenden Hagenaars met veel plezier tegen redelijke kosten kunst leren beoefenen. En ik ben tegen het intrekken van de subsidies aan kleine theaters als Branoul en de Regentes die een functie hebben in deze stad. Dat soort beleid raakt mij aan alle kanten. Het creeërt een klimaat in de samenleving waarbij kunst als nutteloos, overbodig en zonder waarde wordt gepositioneerd. Als hobby, als tijdverdrijf.

Met het gratis beschikbaar stellen van mijn debuutroman maak ik een statement tegen dat beleid. Tegen de destructie van de kunst, of dat nu amateurkunst of ‘professionele’ kunst is. Het is een statement gemaakt met de wanhoop van de schrijfster en de bohémienne die deze samenleving onderuit ziet gaan en als enig antwoord daar op heeft haar kunst op straat te gooien. Niet omdat die kunst niks waard is, maar omdat het de enige manier is waarop iedereen met of zonder geld daar kennis van kunnen nemen. In de hoop dat de bestuurders ooit hun verstand terug krijgen.

Mijn debuutroman Eén latte, een cappu en een espresso is vanaf vandaag gratis te downloaden vanaf deze website én vanaf GoodReads. Het downloaden hier is natuurlijk het eenvoudigst want dat is als U dit leest precies één klik weg. Klik HIER voor de eBook versie.

Ben ik gek dat ik de eBook versie gratis weggeef? Absoluut!

Alice Anna Verheij

For my English speaking readers: what is written above this is an announcement of the availability of my debuting novel FOR FREE DOWNLOAD. It is in Dutch, so if you’re in for a challenge, please go ahead and download and enjoy the book. And spread the word! To get it, just click on THIS.

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

Confused? You shouldn’t be.

Many years ago there was a television series that started every episode with this great line:

“Confused? You won’t be after this weeks episode of… Soap.”

I love this line as it pretty much describes what I am about to tell and request you, dear readers, fans, lovers, friends and who-evers.

Most, if not all of you, know that I am an open and out transgender lesbian woman. Proud on all three labels and at the same time disgusted by the fact that labels exist because they discriminate, set people apart and make them vulnerable to ridicule. The thing is that I am very aware of the fact that I confuse people. Because I am who I am. Wether it is in a café or bar where sometimes a guy gets swept of his feet and starts asking indecent questions (yes, it happened again last week) or online where without asking people sometimes refer to me as a transsexual writer and film maker. As if my writing and film making has anything to do with my past and current gender.

The problem is that I am lesbian and transgender. This is socially a deadly combination in the lesbian community which is by it’s nature my natural hunting ground (pun intended). No really, I love and prefer women so it’s all perfectly natural being a woman myself and being single that I frequently move in the lesbian scene. Like hetero’s move around and meet people in their little part of this gendered world and gay men move around in their little dark rooms. I do not so much differentiate between transwomen and ciswomen, as long as they are gay and can connect with me I will find them interesting. And when attraction hits me the only thing that really counts is the fact that they’re women and not men.

Now why do I write all this and what has that to do with others being confused? It is all quite simple but for some people obviously too darn complex to grab. So let me explain.

I for one don’t give a damn that my past is influenced by transsexuality. And I also don’t give a damn that I happen to be lesbian (although I did hit up some guys in past years like most other lesbians do although some of them are to zealot to admit that). It’s always the others who seem to care. It’s the others who are ‘interested’ in my transsexual past and show that by indecent questions (and sometimes proposals) and a weird interest in how the plumming is inside my pants / skirt / dress / sarwal… I never ask them the same questions. It’s always the others who do.

So I often wonder why people can not just let things be as they are. Simply accept the fact that lesbians do exist and are as much female as any heterosexual woman and that transwomen (transgender or transsexual) are also just as much a woman as any cis gendered (genitalwise born) woman. And I also wonder why people seem to have the urge to think or advocate for me that transwomen should be treated just like anyone else. I don’t need others to speak for me. I don’t need others to advocate my rights to be who I am. And I certainly do not need any promotion for myself and my books and films with a fat line underneath the words trans and lesbian. If I want to use my sexuality and gender for promotion of myself and my work I can very well do that myself, thank you very much!

And as I don’t want to do that and am only interested to play the transgender and lesbian cards when that support emancipation of any of these groups I want to decide when those labels are used in connection with me. So please, please, please, just forget about all the crap concerning gender and sexuality when it comes to me and my work. If you haven’t noticed it by now let me tell you who I really am:

I am Alice Anna. I write. I make photos. I make films. I love women. I love South Asia. I love me.
(And maybe you if you’re lucky!)

That’s all there is to say about me. And if any of you ever want to refer to me as a transsexual or lesbian: ask me first! Because after all, that is none of your business until I allow you to make it such. Don’t abuse my identity, my gender or sexuality. Don’t abuse me. Because I have had it with that completely. And believe me that has everything to do with the general behaviour and transphobia in the lesbian and hetero scenes where a lot is said about acceptance and tolerance but much less is done to allow women like me to fully participate. My dear people, if not specifically requested by me in person, stay the fuck out of my knickers!

I rather see you buying my books, photos or come and watch my film when that’s coming out of the closet in a couple of months because you like them!

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.

Alice

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