Marion Driessen joins the spotlight this week. Driessen snatches time to write in English and Dutch while holding down a full-time position at a university in Holland. An information manager by day, she switches roles after hours to become writer, blogger, gamer and mother to two sons. Did I mention in her spare time she translates text from Dutch to English, and from English to Dutch? She shares here about her creativity, contextual anecdotes, and magical Lambrusco.
Q) Tell us a bit about what you do (writer, translator, gamer, etc) and how/if each of these compliments your creativity.
A) In my daily life I work as information manager, e-learning coach and coordinator of the Academy administration at a university in the south of Holland. I’m mostly busy with planning, organizing and communicating, and trying to keep my team of five lively women in check – at least a bit. Things are never dull or boring, believe me. This fulltime job uses up a lot of my energy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
When I come home two hungry teenagers and ditto cats are waiting for my culinary creativity, and often my partner too. But at times supper has to wait until I’m done basking in the sun in my porch swing, my favorite writing and reading spot. The few times it’s sunny in Holland, we have to take advantage of it, right? And it’s very easy to forget the time then. It happened more than once that my sons came out to ask me “Are we going to eat tonight or…?” and when I check the clock, it’s 8 PM!
Also I’m still secretary of our Karate club, but due to severe back problems alas not active as karateka (brown belt) anymore – and I still miss it after ten years. From training three times a week to nothing.
That’s when I started writing: I joined the community The One Ring, a forum dedicated to Tolkien and fantasy. Together with a group of people, we wrote a really wonderful story called ‘Neverwinter Nights’, where everyone chose a character to play. My nickname there is drieske. My friend and mentor Rwhen stimulated me and gave me confidence to continue writing in English. By the way, I’ve been reading books in English since I was 18 years old, starting with ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and I never stopped. Hell, that’s a long time!
To forget the stress of my work I play games on my PC, mostly RPG’s (Role Playing Games) like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age. When I’m playing, I forget everything around me and take a dive into a fantasy world where borders disappear and all things are possible. Inspiration for my writing wells up after each session, but by then it’s time to go to sleep. Yes, I dream a lot!
Writing my poems, little stories about my life and reports of our Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) sessions gives me so much energy and contentment. Also I’m investigating background material for a (Dutch) novel situated in the region where I was born. The ideas are all in my head and need to get out or it will burst. And that would be messy.
Since I’m always torn between English and Dutch, I have started a blog in both languages. Well, also because I would be lynched by my parents who were muttering about me ‘always writing in English and neglecting my own language’. Feel welcome to take a look.
My English blog: Figments of a Dutchess (poems & stories)
My Dutch blog: Drieske’s Blog
My website: Drieske’s Place (D&D plus the poems & stories combined)
Q) What funny, or not-so-funny at the time, anecdote inspired a writing piece?
A) Events that touch my emotions mostly trigger the muse. When something weird happens, I just NEED to get it out of my system, I have to write about it.
Like that appointment at my dentist. I have no idea why this man decided to choose the most horrid profession in the world, but he simply freaks me out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing personal, but all this fuss in the back of my throat sends me into a state of panic. And to mask that, I just keep on talking when I enter his practice: about holidays, about his skiing adventures, anything, as long as it keeps me out of that chair. I’m an awesome dentist-procrastinating talent. Too bad he has known me and my tactics for over twenty years already, so soon he’ll order me in the chair and stretch me out flat.
Did I mention the anesthetic injection that appears miraculously in his hand the minute he sees my white face? Plus the millions of times I asked for a complete anesthesia, which of course he can’t give? I’m not worried about the pain, because he’s very careful with me. I am terrified of the ultimate gagging experience though. I have crawled out of the dentist’s chair with a severe hernia, and even grabbed his arm a few times while he was drilling. No, I’m not a hero when it comes to facing this dental ‘fun’.
Determined to make this appointment as uneventful as possible, I asked the dentist in my most courageous voice if he could please hang “his little suction thingie in my mouth”. The guy stared at me, baffled… then his eyes started twinkling, after which he roared with laughter. Stupefied I stared up at him from my lying position and then it dawned on me. I screamed “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo, not THAT, I mean the blue instrument!!!”. Oh my god, we laughed so loud that the assistant came running to see what the spectacle was about. Tears streamed down my face and I just couldn’t stop laughing. That did a lot of good to lift the tension. But the moment I was calm enough to open my mouth, he would start grinning again so he had to stop the dental treatment every few minutes. Can you imagine I just HAD to write about this when I came home?
Then there was this day that I got lost on my way to work. I mean, come on, I’ve been working in that same building for over 10 years now and this silly Dutchie gets lost?! I hardly was able to work that day, because the story just had to be written. You’ll find it in the post ‘Lost on highway’.
And have you ever used a Harley to go on holiday? You see those gorgeous women step off a bike, casually shake their hair loose and then walk on with a smile, looking tiptop? Well, it seems I’m not one of those women. My hair is wet, my head is red, my clothes are rumpled and sticky, my butt hurts and my feet are swollen from the heat of the exhaust pipe. And I wrote about that too in ‘Alien on a bike’. Those kind of things activate the creative part of my brain. During this trip Vman (my partner) had to stop several times because I had to write new ideas down in a little book I carry with me for exactly that purpose. But he understands this urge perfectly.
Q) If you could fast-forward your life button, at what year would you stop, and what would be happening in your life and the world around you?
A) Definitely this button would take me to Tuscany, where Vman and me are living together in a little cottage: after years of working for others, we are now retired and spend our days in the sun, swinging in the cool shade, talking, inviting friends, enjoying the quiet. And of course my days would be filled with writing. During my working life I have always longed for time to think, to be alone, time to write. And now, in this Italian paradise, this dream finally has come true. But first it is supper time! Think of ingredients like olive oil, onions, garlic, rice, fish and vegetables, with a touch of Indonesian hot spices.
When dusk falls, footsteps crunch on the meandering garden path: it’s my publicist George C., who wants to discuss my latest creation. He’s staying for dinner; not even ten dogs would be able to chase him away. The table is set with candles and a bubbly Lambrusco wine fills the glasses. We toast to my new book ‘Osiris’, a mystery novel set in Egypt. In this novel I combine modern archaeology with fantasy elements. Fantasy has been present in most of my writing. ‘Magic exists, you only have to believe.’ What a wonderful thought.
“And my next project will be about a good friend of ours!” I wink to George. This ‘good friend’, the main character of a series I’ve written during the last ten years, has been with me in my mind for a long time. She’s very shy, but every now and then she darts around the corner and I simply have to follow her on her adventures. My publicist nods eagerly, not able to hide an excited grin. Casually he enquires after the name of this newest sequel, which of course I won’t give him.
In the evening we watch the sun set, enjoying each other’s company. We feel happy with the little things in life; little things that can make such a big difference. Because this is what really counts: make each and every day a time to remember with a smile, grab new opportunities that will appear if you have an open eye. The world will suddenly become a better place.
The moon shines over a deserted garden, all is quiet… except for the cat. It’s on the hunt.