March 18, 2014

His First (Bilingual) Words

I love watching – or perhaps a better word, listening – to my son learn his first words. I’m amazed at how quickly he learns it all. Everyday he learns a couple of new words. I know that it’s perfectly normal and not at all exceptional but it’s the first time that I’m actually experiencing a child learning his first words and sentences. And, as a language buff, I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride.

We’re raising our son bilingually, which makes experiencing his first words – for me – even more fun. I speak English, and my husband and pretty much everyone else in my son’s life speaks Dutch. About ninety percent of the words he says are Dutch, yet he understands the English words I say  just as well as when his father says it in Dutch. So, passively, the two languages are equal to one another.

What I find most interesting is that he translates. I say to him in English, “Why don’t you go stroke the dog.” And he’ll run up to the dog and say “aaien” (Dutch word for stroking.) Why not simply parrot me and use the English word?

He’ll also change languages if he thinks that will get him more attention. He was pointing at a book saying “paard” repeatedly, but I was busy with something so I didn’t respond. He stopped for a moment and then tried again, but this time in English, “Mama, horse.” Then he did get my attention because it was the first time he’d used the English word.

Also peculiar is his counting. In English he counts correctly up to five, but in Dutch he skips the number three. I’m not sure why as the Dutch word (drie) sounds similar to the English word. I know that it will soon sort itself out; I just wonder what goes on in his little brain on that issue.

And so his story continues.


March 10, 2014

Bring It To the 21st Century

Classics have often been used as a basis for new, and sometimes quite popular, stories.

They can be given a modern twist like these:

  1. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice)
  2. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet)
  3. The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesy (based on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre)

Or the story can be retold from another perspective:

Continue reading

February 23, 2014

I Miss the Train

A little over a year ago, I bought my first car. For the first time I felt like a grown-up, even more so than when I had a child (strange, but true). I can now go wherever I like, whenever I like. No more looking at the clock when leaving, five minutes doesn’t make a whole lot of difference when travelling by car. I don’t have to keep the weather in mind as much when going out – there’s always an umbrella in the trunk and I don’t have wear shoes in which I can do a lot of walking in.

But, a year on, I realise that I really miss the train and other modes of public transport. Continue reading

January 30, 2014

New Year’s Resolution

The second edition of Cecile’s Writers Magazine has just been published. In this edition we have three new and unique stories. You can read all the stories on our website: or you can see the complete magazine online by going to

Sign-up-bannerDue to personal reasons, mainly positive life changing events within our team, we have not been as active as we would have liked to with publishing this second volume of Cecile’s Writers Magazine and on our blog. However, the good aspect about a new year is that it is a great incentive to pick up all the loose ends and refocus on one’s goals, so, our New Year’s Resolution: back on track with publishing fresh content for Cecile’s Writers. Join us in our New Year’s Resolution and help us spread the word of Cecile’s Writers, so that the intercultural writers and their stories can get the attention that they deserve.

Cecile, Samir, Sofia and Vanessa
Cecile’s Writers Magazine editorial team

January 29, 2014

Steinbeck Reflects on Reality



On the long journey doubts were often my companions. I’ve always admired those reporters who can descend on an area, talk to key people, ask questions, take samplings of opinions, and then set down an orderly report very like a road map. I envy this technique and at the same time do not trust it as a mirror of reality. I feel that there are too may realities. What I set down here is true until someone else passes that way and rearranges the world in his own style. In literary criticism the critic has no choice but to make over the victim of his attention into something the size and shape of himself.

John Steinbeck from Travels with Charley

A recommended read for any Steinbeck admirer, fan of literary reflection and autobiographical works, or the enthused reader of high quality ‘on the road’ texts. Steinbeck sets out in a camper to rediscover America, which he believed had changed and that he had lost touch with it. Steinbeck’s use of language, descriptions and imagery of the unfolding landscape and the hubbub of cities are a testimony to his keen observations and his style of writing.


January 10, 2014

Virginia Woolf: A Snippet on Writing and Melancholy

I’m presently reading Virginia Woolf’s Diaries vol. 1, when I stumbled on the following  passage that I figured would be nice to quote and share. It’s about her husband, Leonard Woolf, having a melancholic day where he’s unable to write:

It’s a bad habit writing novels – it falsifies life, I think. However, after praising L’s writing very sincerely for 5 minutes, he says “Stop”; whereupon I stop, & theres no more to be said. When I analyse his mood, I attribute much of it to sheer lack of self confidence in his power of writing; as if he mightn’t be a writer, after all; & being a practical man, his melancholy sinks far deeper than the half assumed melancholy of self conscious people… There’s no arguing with him.

The Diary of Virginia Woolf vol. 1 1915-1919

How easy is it for writers to become melancholic, much less due to a lack of self confidence? I personally find it a daunting profession where one constantly battles one’s own self in terms of memory, beliefs, experience and abilities. I suppose it gives me a measure of joy to know that many greats also suffer. In the end though, one has to keep writing.


December 20, 2013

A Cure for the Reading Blues?

While I certainly enjoy reading a lot of books, for some reason I haven’t read as much as I’d like the past few weeks. Even worse, I’ve hardly noted down my reactions to the books I’d finished on my last good reading spree, much less written the extensive reviews that some of you know me to write and are kind enough to read and comment on. I guess I’m having a reading blues, if there is such a thing. Then again, maybe I’ve just not picked up the ‘right’ book, if you know what I mean. The kind of book that makes me fall in love with it and gives me sheer joy from reading something so beautifully written. Continue reading

December 13, 2013

Another 13 Goodreads Quotes

As my post Top-13 Goodreads Quotes still gets a lot of hits, I thought it was time for an update. So, in honour of Friday the 13th, another 13 quotes that I like that were emailed to me by Goodreads. All of them are about writing or reading in one way or another.

“There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.”
– Christopher Morley

“O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales.”
– Leo Rosten Continue reading

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