When you tell people you are writing a book everyone assumes that the hard part is sitting down and writing. Working on your inspiration, your daily discipline, your storyline and your grammar.
Nobody is more surprised than I am that that is in fact the easy part. The part when it is just you and your words.
Now that my Dutch selection of columns is very close to getting published I am discovering a whole new field. Without wanting to sound dramatic but with the intention of being completely honest, 'anxiety' is the only word that sums it up. It's all very well when my friends and loved ones tell me they enjoy what I write, but what about all those other people that don't get my jokes? can't read between my lines? think I'm a a fraud?
It is not by chance that Liz Gilbert has been on my bedside table with her Big Magic for the last year giving me inspiration when I needed it, trust when I was in doubt or a sense of trickster when I was taking myself far too seriously.
And then there is always the universe when all else fails.
I just came across, purely coincidentally, the life story that my father wrote about ten years ago. He was a great writer and started a book, intended for his grandchildren, about the Netherlands and his life with Dutch history as a backdrop. As ours grew up in Spain and my nephew and niece in Sweden, he felt responsible for giving them the missing links in their Dutch heritage. He never finished it though, I think he got to a stage in his childhood that was too emotional to remember and he blocked. It frustrated him that he couldn't get his pen back onto the paper. That he couldn't finish what he started.
He did however, write a shortened version for a friend he had lost touch with since elementary school. Finding it now, amongst a pile of paper, is so special. I can sense his sense of humour through the lines and feel such compassion for him having grown up in rather harsh circumstances. He was determined to live his life his way, and he did. My mother, as he describes so endearingly, compensated his missing traits. They were a perfect team.
He was a very successful restaurateur in Holland and when we moved to Spain he seemed to have nowhere to go with his ambition. He kept busy but looking back I think he missed the years of business challenges. His main mission was to be there for my brother and I, which he had had little time for when we had the restaurant in Holland. He helped us with everything we needed, inspired us to think big and taught us to not be limited by other people's opinions. The last ten years of his life he was often depressed. This was tough on us all especially my mother, but she always remained by his side.
Now reading his story again I think: I wish I could just tell him one more time that I understand and that I forgive him…
But mostly it convinces me of the power of our story and that we must share it. I have been suffering with the thought of the amount of criticism I may get from people that don’t get my book, don’t get my sense of humour, my cynicism meant as a wake up call. My emotions and my drama. My stubbornness and my obsession with wanting to understand everything and everyone.
It feels as if my dad is trying to tell me something by just appearing with his text somewhere in between a forgotten pile of papers.
"Tell your story because those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.”
Thank you dad, perfect timing once again.
Inspired by everything that matters and convinced that creative living is on top of the list.