Writing a book can get lonely. And when you’re confronted with the critical questions and remarks of a respected editor, it gets demoralising to have to press that delete button all too often. Kill your “darlings” -the passages you love most- they tell us writers. I do, but it hurts. So every now and then I feel I deserve, no, need a change of scene. But to go to a party on the eve of one’s deadline? I knew that would be dangerous.
Yet, it’s hard to resist an invitation to the Palais d’ Hollande in Istanbul that says: ‘Don’t be bitter, just glitter!’
A lot has changed since I, in 1990, set up the cultural department of the diplomatic post of the Netherlands in Istanbul. Back then the Foreign Ministry didn’t even give me a budget to discuss joint activities over a coffee with my cultural colleagues from the other European countries. It was so miserable that I ran away to become a journalist. Gradually, the importance of targeted diplomacy for Istanbul was understood both by The Hague and the business community. Nowadays, even in these times of austerity, Dutch companies are ready to sponsor many events, including now famous parties of which the old sponsors of the mission, Amsterdam’s Board of the Levant Trade, would be proud.
The galas that Consul General Marco Hennis used to give were so elegant and splendid that they were fit for a king. Indeed, after her 2007 visit to Istanbul Queen Beatrix asked him to become the head of her Royal Household. Now ‘our’ Marco serves the new King, Willem-Alexander.
Then there were the memorable parties organised by Daniel Stork, the flamboyant Cultural Attaché who charmed many an Istanbul lady and now turns diplomatic heads in Paris.
So the new Consul General, Robert Schuddeboom, had quite a reputation to keep up. Well. He passed with flying colors. It was a wonderful party with many beautifully glittering ladies, and gentlemen too. Waiters kept floating by with trays of champagne, sushi and other delicacies, and until deep in the night we danced away whatever blues we may have had.
That next morning. Oh, that next morning. All of a sudden my book seemed terrible and pointless and stupid. Or was it me?
The body’s ability to recover keeps amazing me. After a good night’s sleep I set to work again with renewed energy and a refreshed mind. I’m proud to report that the manuscript of ‘De Bruid’ (The Bride) is back with the publisher on time. I’m ready for the next round, and you’ll be able to enjoy the result in Spring 2014.