March 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

This year there are three Friday the 13ths.  The first one was in February, the second is today and the third will be in November.  Three Fridays to avoid ladders, black cats, breaking mirrors (that’s generally a good idea), and opening umbrellas while being indoors.  The list of things that are best to be postponed is long, depending on how serious you take it.

Jeopardizing the Future

The superstition about umbrellas is one I enjoy in particular.  They’re handy objects on rainy days, but they can bring some bad luck, too, by opening them indoors, or picking them up after dropping them.  And apparently, umbrellas aren’t gift material either.  (I wonder if I should be worried. I ended up with one at my wedding.  Although I’m not sure it was actually a gift; it was in a plastic wrapper, but not wrapped as a gift.)

Another one I should have known before getting married is that as a single woman you should never drop your umbrella, the chances of getting married in the future will be in jeopardy.  It’s an interesting take for  a story.

©Bonnybxx @

Got You

Mirrors are mystic, eerie and practical.  As an object they are hard to avoid.  Even if you refuse to have one at home, nearly all bathrooms in public spaces have them.  I have at least five of them, and use them especially in the morning.  It’s good to know I don’t leave the house with toothpaste somewhere smeared on my face (or somewhere I’m positive I didn’t put it, but it still miraculously appears).

Besides having positive attributes like reflecting  positive energy, doubling your health, increasing your happiness  and warding off unwanted spirits, mirrors have also less fortunate effects.  For instance, mirrors are able to capture the wandering souls of the sick and the lost souls of the dead.  It was believed that during sickness, the souls of the patients were prone to leave the body.  To prevent these hapless souls from being trapped, the mirrors in the room and house of a patient were covered.  And to assist them, windows were kept open.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

In stories, mirrors play dubious roles, and are sometimes downright creepy (think of the story Bloody Mary).  But even in Snow White, the mirror isn’t exactly ordinary.  And that’s what I don’t like about them.

Despite my common sense, that the chance of witnessing horrifying, screaming faces are low, I still don’t like to enter my bathroom in the dark. The lights are always switched on before going in.  It feels more comfortable that way.

Story Material

Still, superstitions can work quite nicely as characteristics of characters, act as muses for writing, or function as writing prompts.

Best of luck today!


March 11, 2015

Our Digital Writers’ Café

When we were still at uni, Cecile, Sofia and I would meet up in the library, study hall or café to write together, or better said, we would sit together and each work on our own story.  This motivated us to write, and we wrote a lot!  We could pick each other’s brain if we got stuck, or have a little break from writing and laugh together.

But… times have changed.  We no longer live, study or work in the same city any more, and having children means we are a lot less mobile.  So where to find the time, energy or motivation to write?  The days slip by and the number of unwritten stories in my brain pile up.



Well, we seem to have found a solution.  We now have a digital meeting one evening a week via Google Hangouts.  We don’t waste time having to go somewhere, but we can motivate each other to make time to write.  It’s a bit like sports: if your friends are waiting for you, you’re more likely to get up and do it.  Or in our case, sit down and do it.  And it helps that we’re three, because if one of us can’t make it, the other two will still meet up and write.



Just sitting down to write for two hours straight is great.  It might not seem like a lot but it’s enough to get a story going, and that in turn motivates me to write at other times in the week on my own.  It would be nicer to be together in person of course, but this is better than not meeting at all or not writing.  I can recommend it to anyone struggling to find the time to write.



Just remember: “You can’t wait for inspiration.  Inspiration is waiting for you.”

Good writings, everyone.



March 6, 2015

Reading Is for Girls

Reading, as a past-time activity, is still regarded as something girls do, and as something bothersome that has to be done for school (i.e. the marvellous and intriguing book reports).  Looking back at my schooldays, I have to say this is quite accurate.  During the primary school days reading was fun; it became a bit more serious by the time we had to give presentations on the book we had read, but it was still enjoyable.  It changed with my A-level years, where reading books was mainly a school related activity.  The choices were limited, the assignments predictable, and, basically, just enjoying a book was not much of an option.

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February 23, 2015

A Total Paper Book Lover

Vanessa's bookshelvesI choose bringing extra books instead of extra shoes when I go on holiday.  My husband, however, is more modern.  He simply takes his e-reader filled with a dozen books, giving him ample choice while sitting by the swimming pool.

I know all the advantages of an e-reader: lightweight, adaptable font size, etc.  I even know that they are technologically well created, your eyes won’t tire as they do when reading on a regular screen.  And yet, I can’t give up my paper books.  There’s something special about curling up on the couch with a paper book: the smell, the heft, the feel.  It’s more than just nostalgia speaking! Continue reading

February 21, 2015

Curiosity Kills

Whether it’s Christmas gifts or birthday presents, the hunt to find them has always been a lot of fun.  But then the fun instantly stopped the moment the gifts were discovered (or at least I was convinced I had), the excitement replaced by a sense of guilt (I wasn’t supposed to find them) and disappointment (the new hunt wouldn’t be for another year).

©Action Press/ Rex Features

These days I’m no longer hunting, instead I fish by asking questions about the possible gift.  In return, I receive only cryptic answers that really could be about anything.  The vagueness keeps me going, nurturing the hope that I might figure it out, and at the same the desire that I don’t.

It’s a bit contradicting.

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February 14, 2015

Getting the Hang of My Own Culture

(Courtesy of

(Courtesy of

Although I’m not an expat, I enjoy reading the blogs written by expats about the Netherlands.  It’s insightful to know about their experiences, especially when it comes down to Dutch habits like directness, or birthday well-wishing.

Rude, direct of efficient?

The most re-occurring experience is the rude attitude we have.  (See for example Netherlands by Numbers.  They dedicated an entire blog to this topic.)  We prefer to call this directness, but I suppose it all depends on the point of view.  Yet whether it’s rudeness, directness or maybe just efficiency, it all comes down to how it’s experienced by someone unfamiliar to it.

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February 10, 2015

What I Want to Read

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

It’s funny how I ended up a student of literature and an editor because of my love of reading, only to realise that being at the position I’m now in, I seldom have time to read for pleasure anymore.  What with all the study texts, required reading, journals and literary criticism for research and essay writing; not to mention the ever present slush pile to go through and to work on several drafts of the ones that make the cut, my to-read shelf grows faster than I can ever hope to tackle.

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February 7, 2015

Eliot’s: Prufrock & Other Observations (Part 1)

T.S. EliotPrufrock & Other Observations is a thin volume of T.S. Eliot’s first poetry collection, which is perfect in is own way because what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up in quality.  The poems are difficult to understand and they require close reading, contextual information is certainly helpful, too.  The difficulty is not necessarily pretentious – depending on your definition of what constitutes pretentious literature – but a result of several influences on Eliot.  This early collection is influenced by the French Symbolists, particularly the poetry of Jules Laforgue, whom Eliot borrows heavily from in terms of technique and subject matter.  But the influences go further, the philosophy of Henri Bergson on space and time, as well as by Ezra Pound’s and F. S. Flint’s Imagism.

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