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

NaNoWriMo 2011 gaat vannacht van start.

Na in 2008 mee te hebben gedaan en het niet gehaald te hebben met het Engelstalige manuscript voor ‘Cairo Scent‘, in 2009 te hebben meegedaan met als resultaat het manuscript voor ‘Droomvlucht Afrika‘, in 2010 te hebben meegedaan met als onontkoombaar gevolg de uitgave van ‘Eén latte, een cappu en een espresso‘ als mijn debuutroman, kan ik het niet laten om dit jaar wéér mee te doen met NaNoWriMo. De National Novel Writing Month die alles behalve ‘national’ is. Een roman schrijven in dertig dagen. Gekkenwerk.

Ware het niet dat ik eerder dit jaar in de maand juni al een roman geschreven heb toen ik in de bergen in Nepal verkeerde. ‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story‘ is inmiddels in manuscript gereed en ligt bij de uitgever in Kathmandu, Nepal ter lezing en correctie. Het boek zal rond de jaarwisseling uit moeten gaan komen en wordt mijn eerste Engelstalige werk dat gepubliceerd gaat worden.

Maar zomaar meedoen met NaNoWriMo is niet genoeg. Ik weet dat ik een roman in een maand kan schrijven (dat wil zeggen, mijn brein legen op het virtuele papier van mijn geduldige laptop nadat het eerste weken of maanden is gevuld met een verhaallijn, personages, locaties en situaties). En dus moet het dit jaar maar anders dan anders verlopen.

Vanaf de eerste keer dat ik mij op NaNoWriMo stortte deed ik dat in het gezelschap van mijn beste vriendin. En dit jaar is dat niet anders. Sterker nog, er is sprake van coproductie. En daarmee houdt het dan ook op als het gaat om de publieke beschrijving van wat er gaat gebeuren want het boek dat er uit rolt over enige tijd is niet alleen leuk maar ook spannend en schokkend en zal zeker de media weten te bereiken door de onthullingen die er in komen te staan. Onthullingen die de natie zullen schokken en de weerslag zijn van veel research, uren zoekwerk in archieven, kranten, boeken en verschillende locatie bezoeken.

Ik heb er zin in.

Alice © 2011