Trial by Hiccups
Finally, it's over! 

I can't tell you how depressing it is to have almost non-stop hiccups for a such a long period. Because just saying that I am ecstatic now that they've gone doesn't say it all. What I will tell you is that if you have enemies and want to cripple them mentally and physically, hiccups is the way to go. And they can't be traced back to you either. The perfect weapon in fact.

There's also a lot of cures on the web, of course, including this little cracker which worked well for the milder attacks I had.

After 48 hours worth of chest-busting, rib-cracking hilarity/misery I finally went to the hospital where I was given muscle relaxing pills. So far they seem to be working; I haven't hiccuped now for nearly 24 hours, so fingers crossed that it's all over.

Hiccups are mysterious beings, they come from out of nowhere outstay their welcome, then disappear into the night without so much as a handshake or a peck on the cheek. To have them stay for so long is even more mysterious and needs to be checked out by a doctor. Which is where I'll be spending some of tomorrow.

Death by Books
Yet another book has fallen victim of my 'If you can't be bothered to write, I'm not bothering to read' intolerance/law. Sadly, and I have to say that it is, another book slipped into my life purporting to have been a) well written and b) edited when in fact neither are true. I won't name names, but if the people who say it is 'a real page-turner' actually believe that, then they have obviously never read 'a real page-turner' or have never actually read a good book.

I'm not going into the details but the main character is an idiot who couldn't think his way into a public toilet let alone run an international research organisation. He annoys and is suspect almost from the beginning and gets worse the further you drag yourself through the pages. Also, character and location background material should be quietly and carefully slipped into the story, not parachuted in with all guns blazing. If you don't know what I mean try reading The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Echo. Finally, short sentences can either speed up the action or, as in this example, sound like a very dull shopping list. 

And don't tell me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is a matter of taste: that's bollocks. Poor writing is poor writing and the same goes for poor editing - and there is no excuse for either.

I've ditched the second-rate for something entirely first rate and, so far, faultless on all fronts, namely Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. This is not only well researched it is really well written and a joy to read. It manages to combine the modern with the old, the foreign with the local and all told with a real ear and flair for language. This is a book that you need on your bookshelf.
 
 
For the last two years I've been waiting for the British and Dutch tax offices to sort out my tax situation, which is pretty bad and only going to get worse. 

No, I'm not giving you the details, but let's just say the problem is five zeros long and multiple €ks high.

You wouldn't want it, but any donations will be gratefully received. 

Despite this, I'm remarkably chipper and upbeat, but that might be because I still don't know how heavy the train I'm standing in front of is: I find this weird.

Like anyone else, I can get down about a bad situation, but so far it's been just the opposite. Not that I'm wildly happy - don't picture my life as one long beach party (actually it's snowing here at the moment...) but I feel a sort of resistance to being down and a determination to not allow life and taxes to break my spirit.

I will know for sure how bad it's going to be within the next two weeks so my attitude might change and you may well find me drunk in a gutter somewhere, but that is not my plan.

So why is it that I'm not already seeking professional help? Why has the weight of the last two years (longer actually) not pressed me down so far into the mud that I'm already buried.

Ignorance is helpful: I can't really see how badly life will change, and I seek refuge in my writing, books and the TV, so perhaps that helps. Or is it something else? Am I tapping into a deeper human response that makes us stand up and fight when necessary?

I can't say and only time will tell. I've always been someone who takes the easier route, I frequently travel the green fields of dreams - indeed I've spent so long staring out of windows lost in other worlds of possibilities that I was a qualified  writer long before I put pen to paper.

(And I recommend writing with a pen to all writers who don't - I'd write everything by hand if I had the time and whoever had to type it out could actually read it.)

Of course, I hope that my new found resistance isn't just hot air and bluster because life is going to get very tricky, very soon and I need to get through it somehow. I do have a light at the end of the tunnel, and one day I'll tell you about how brightly that shines: I'm going to need to stay focussed on that beautiful light because I'm sure I'll be in the shit for the next two years, maybe more. 

In the meantime I shall fall back on assuming that I will make it back to the sunshine and that if I continue writing and submitting I will be published, that my books will become best-sellers and that I will earn lots of money and I will buy myself out of this dark corner. 

As you can see, my imagination hasn't stopped working and I'm still delusional and wildly optimistic about being enslaved to the literary world as I ever was; qualities every writer worth their salt has to have.

Fed Up Reading the same old Guff?
Banish those fed-up blues by reading the first three chapters of my second novel, an Anglo-Dutch bike-based romance, here.
 
 
Manage the Manic
A few weeks ago I was as happy as a lamb enjoying the sunshine in Melbourne, Australia. It was warm, it was new and was/is populated by some very lovely people.

But then I came back to northern Europe and my mood dropped like an icy stone as the temperature plummeted and all the world's problems alighted on my shoulders.

Then I was off to the UK where I was able to forget again as tiredness and work overwhelmed my senses. I loved it: then I was back home again and unable to escape the horrors that surround me. My mood swooped down into subterranean depths again, my only escape being sleep.

I'm not going into the details of why this is happening, they're far too complicated and personal, but I will say that they involve every major area of life. In other words money, work and my private life.

If you're like me and seem to be trapped in an ever-spinning world of negativity, what do you do to get through it? The best I can do is to try not to think about it and keep putting one foot in front of the other - which works when you're desperate, but it isn't a long term answer it?

On a good day I can cheerfully laugh at all the bollox that comes my way, but that's just bravado. It ain't going to cure nothing. On a good day I try to work my way out of it by taking action, but without someone there with a whip, it's very hard to stick to the plan. Hopelessness creeps in to my head and paralyses me and the best I can do is hide in a book or tune out in front of the TV. And working from home and being an amateur novelist don't make it any easier either. Both contribute hugely to feelings of isolation, and if any of you have or are trying to get published, you'll know exactly how tough inhabiting the world of the unpublished author can be.

I'm not expecting any sympathy here, but I would like to know how people break through negativity and the loneliness it brings. 

My latest plan is to rise at 0600 every day and get on with writing my 2nd novel (working title: Life Cycle) but that means getting to bed by midnight. And getting to bed at the time (and going to sleep) is not something I'm good at.

I can do it, but I'm sure many people will know that going to sleep means waking up, and waking up means facing the day again: at night nothing can touch you.
 
 
Australia - you can't beat it! Of course, I'm biased as I have several lovely friends there. But the country itself, the people and the geography are fantastic. You should visit at your earliest possible convenience. (And as an aside to that, yes, for many of us it IS a long way away, but it ain't that far: most of the distance is in our heads not on the plane.)

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend three weeks there in January and enjoyed not only the very warm hospitality from everyone I met, but also the warmth of the sun and even the sea. I can't tell you how much I loved escaping the winter in northern Europe! This was brought home to me by the icy blast that hit me as I emerged from the plane in Schipol airport when I returned to NL after three weeks of glorious heat. And was further underlined by the snow that fell the next day. By the end of the same week, a week I spent in the UK, it was falling with a vengeance and I was lucky to get home.

One of the things that struck me about Oz is how like any other big and hot country it is. I've been to many in Latin America and have seen loads in the USA via films and TV. The all have common characteristics: towns tend to sprawl; electricity cables hang like Death's washing line everywhere; the streets are parched and bleached and everything that can't escape the sun is really no more than an apparition; no one can be seen when midday arrives and the sun blasts everything into oblivion. The only things that move are the tourists who drag their reluctant suitcases behind them as they look for lodgings or somewhere to eat. Them and the occasional foolish photographer out hunting down the graffiti.

Oz is no exception. But despite that, I love those sorts of places: places where the sweat rolls down your face because you had the audacity to move, places where the rain soaks you but five minutes later you're dry again, where cicadas scratch away night and day providing a snare drum roll to the creaking off-beat of the wobbly fan in your dirt-cheap hotel room.

Oz is also very MASSIVE - something that's hard for us western Europeans to understand. It is a country of huge cities with very little in between, except a countryside that rolls off into the distance. A countryside that will eat you for breakfast if you put one foot out of place. It is a place I cannot help but love. 

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you can see many of the day to day photos I took in my albums there (see public links below). I've also put a load of pics of the graffiti I saw there on my other other website.

Links to Public Folders on Facebook