Monthly Archives: November 2015

Music moves you

image1-3It is almost five years ago that we moved from the Netherlands to South Africa for Joost’s work. I remember arriving at Johannesburg airport after a very long flight with a five year old, an almost two year old and a five months old baby; we were beyond exhausted. When we entered Jo’burg airport the people were happy and friendly and music surrounded us. I instantly felt more energetic. Music thrives you, music influences your mood, music fuels your fire.

South Africa was the country of Adele’s 21. She accompanied me everywhere I went on a CD in my car. She sang, I sang, and I definitely sang louder. She dragged me through my first weeks (could have been months) of denial: ‘I’m not going to be able to live here, this is horrible, let’s go back home’. She encouraged me to go to the gym and comforted me when I was homesick. She celebrated with me when I drove to dinner dates and I ran my first (which was also my last) half marathon with her. We partied together, I cried with her and she made me happy. Adele and South Africa are forever connected.

Three years later we moved to the United States and I kind of forgot about her. I couldn’t find the CD and I listened to the radio. Not only because I wanted to, but because the children did too. They were older and the popular songs the American radio mainly plays were exactly their cup of tea. My white minivan turned into an American style lyp synching car with everyone singing to modern beats. If you’d ask me which artist will forever remind me of the United States, it would be a tie between Sam Smith and Iggy Azelea. The latter because nothing beats running or cycling to her uptempo beats.

Adele must have missed our duets as she suddenly announced the release of a new album. It made me a bit suspicious. What did this say about our stay in the United States? Well…. definitely something. About two months ago another opportunity in Joost’s field of work unveiled itself. We decided to go for it, to move again and this time we’re moving back. Back to the Netherlands. One of the main reasons for that decision is that the children are getting older and saying goodbye to your best friends every two years is too much for all our hearts to bear. Way too much.

I’m sure Adele will help us, I’m sure she will comfort us when we miss our friends and different homes around the globe. I’m sure she will be there to guide us integrating in a well known place, but with different versions of ourselves. Adele was there when we left and she will be there when we return; when we say goodbye, she says Hello.

Writing a book? Ha ha! (Step 4: Where would I be without Saar)

Book Lilian, writing a bookThis piece is not written by me, it’s written by Sarah Breimer (Saar) who – amongst a few others – helps me writing
my book . Skyping with Sarah gives me a deadline, a reason to focus and she helps me further in my process. Apart from this, she is a fun and bubbly person and great to talk with. Oh, we never Skype with video btw as your own head is very distracting.

The writing process

When Eva and I ‘met’ online and started talking about the book she was about to write, she immediately impressed me with her energy and her open mind towards my role in the process. As a writer, it can be hard to take a step back and look at your own work. It is almost impossible, but, especially with non-fiction, it is very important that you do. It can be useful to see if you are still doing what you set out to do. And if you are not, if that change is for the better or should you refocus?

Eva asked me to be her first reader. This basically means that every once in a while I read along with her and together we discuss the challenges she faces in this process. She decides when she needs us to meet for a next round. We pick a day, she sends me her work and I read it.

While reading, I always have a few questions at the back of my mind. Is this still the story Eva intends to write or is she drifting in other directions? Is it evocative enough, does it have the right tone, does it tickle my mind as a reader or am I slowly falling asleep? Afterwards, when we meet for our Tuesday morning/evening Skype meet-up, we talk endlessly. Is this the right track? Why is there so much information on this and so little focus on that? Where is this all leading to, why did you decide to add this element or leave out something else?

Not all of those questions need immediate answers. They merely function as pointers for Eva to think about and to take on as she goes along in the process. Most of the time it already helps to talk about the story to clear your writers’ mind or to remember what you had set out to do originally.

As a writer, I know how challenging it is to talk about the story you have been working on so intensely. It takes a strong and open mind to be able to talk about your own writing without feeling criticized or doubted. Eva has that mind and that is sheer pleasure for an editor. I have grown to love our Tuesday morning/evening meetings, as for me they are so full of inspiration, recognition and good talk. I can’t wait for Eva to finish her book and be extremely proud of herself. I know I already am.