Week 751

What’s this? I’m blogging about my work on a weekly basis – a simple way to track and archive whatever it is I spend my time on.

De verdwijners

Last week my editor gave me an update on my new novel De verdwijners, which was supposed to come out in April. Well, it didn’t, and I wasn’t sure why, although I was asked to tweak it (and tweak it again). Now, I was finally told that there’d been some debate at my publishing house about whether it should be released at all.

The good news is that Atlas Contact is publishing my book. The publisher has personally said there is now “no doubt” about this. Additionally, the production has now started, even though the release is still a couple of months away: the cover designer polished the artwork, the typesetter has been put to work and I even applied another handful of tweaks to the manuscript.

What kind of spin can I put on this? I have to say that by its nature, De verdwijners is pretty offbeat, the kind of book that’s supposed to cause strong reactions. The opposing views within the publisher may in fact be a healthy sign. (If anything, I’d say book publishers should put out risky books more often, if they want to have the admittedly small chance of a breakout success. But what do I know about book publishing?)

Maybe I’m being too honest here, but of course I sometimes fear that the book is simply no good, and that my unmasking is only a matter of time. At the same time, I know I’ve given it my all. I poured a huge amount of time and energy into this project, and there’s virtually no way I could’ve put out a better book this year. Whether people will appreciate what I created will be a matter of them liking the concept, and liking the execution. In a postmodern universe, that’s all I can make of it.

There’s a complication: despite the vote of “no doubt”, my publisher has decided not to provide me with the letter of intent I need to apply for a grant to write my next novel, Sexy Sadie. This is terrible news for the large-scale book I’ve worked on for years and years. It may sound weird, but I really wrote De verdwijners to breathe new life into Sexy Sadie (and also, my ‘career’ as a ‘novelist’).

Half of that plan worked splendidly: I think I’ve found a modus operandi in which I can write novels despite an already busy life, along the way I came up with some potent new ideas, and I’m really psyched about pausing everything non-essential and writing down that all-important first draft. The other half of my plan seems to be a bit harder: enthusing the rest of the world about me and my writings. But all is not lost. I’ll just have to think of a more creative way to subsidize Sexy Sadie.

So what else happened last week? Well, with the idea of a writing grant out of the window, I worked on proposals for various newspaper and magazine articles. I set up some interviews with indie game developers and started playing The Last of Us on PlayStation 3, perhaps the most polished cinematic blockbuster type game I’ve seen so far.

The Last of Us

I also felt a strong urge to work on something completely unnecessary. So I copy-pasted all of 2012’s weeknotes into a Pages document, and started adding footnotes with a healthy amount of hindsight. I’m thinking of publishing the finished doc as a ‘yearnotes’ book via something like Lulu.

On Tuesday, I met up with fellow games journalist Stefan Keerssemeeckers for coffee and gossip.

On Wednesday, I visited Two Tribes, where I made a plan for a ‘documentary trailer’ for the upcoming Steam version of Toki Tori 2.


That night, I had my weekly game development hobby night with Hessel Bonenkamp. I didn’t get a lot done in Game Maker, getting stuck on collision and, then, too complex example code from around the web. However, I woke up the next day with a good idea of how to fix my problem and managed to find some time to advance my game prototype.

On Friday, I met up with HVA student Erwin Klijn to talk about narrative in games, which he’s researching for his thesis.

After that, I attended the weekly editorial meeting for Your Daily Victory Boogie Woogie, the experimental writing game, which is inching towards its spectacular finale. Over the weekend, I finished my penultimate contribution to the game (in Dutch): Six Degrees of Arie Boomsma. It takes the shape of an infographic, mapping the relationships of artist Godfried de Ridder.

I also finished a PlayStation 2 retro column for the Dutch Official PlayStation Magazine over the weekend. It was about EyeToy, SingStar and Buzz.