Writer, that’s what I am since I was born. I can not do anything about it or against it. Do not want that either! It’s in my genes. All my life I tried to put what I saw or experienced on paper. Not to become famous and rich. It is my way to make the world feel meaningful and to create clarity for myself. Some people have that.
Because they are a bit of an outsider, einzelgänger, everything must be internalised through the pen. Is that weird? Maybe a little. Many a psychiatrist has earned a fair share of it while the writer rarely has anything left. So writing is more of a “state of mind” than something I wanted to be. Many other jobs would have made me happier and my purse better filled. But, I am who I am, and that is a writer. I want to tell things. One problem is that “things” are becoming more numerous and the persons I want to do that for too. Fortunately, Grammarly helps me with the latter. It’s my little helper!
The discovery of my writing started quite dangerous. As a child, I was crazy about reading. I spent every free moment there. Even when I had been put to bed by my mother, I could not resist. With a candle under my blanket, I devoured many a book. Fortunately, it has never come to the writer’s incineration. I did read about book burning, which made me realise that books were written that produced such reactions. I wanted that too. Writing a book in which everything was said and that would make all other books superfluous. The bar was therefore high. To achieve that goal I could only go to other writers. Reading, reading a lot, was the message. Early on I read the Dutch writers Mulisch, Wolkers, Reve, Hermans and many others. And not one book but complete oeuvres.
Then the world literature: Dostoevsky, “The idiot” appealed to me very much. Tolstoy, especially the person Fjodor Karamazov, made me think. Sartre, de Beauvoir, Jung, Brecht and other human observers also made me think. They all had their influence on my short stories, poems and the unsuccessful short story I wrote. I stopped writing fiction after I had devoured “The world according to Carp” and “Hotel New Hampshire” by John Irving. Because of his humanism, humour and storytelling, I realised that I still had to look and internalise a lot. I chose the other branch of writing: non-fiction.
I came across Koi, the Japanese ornamental carp. Since the nineties of the last century, the “keeping” of these empresses of the pond became a hobby for millions of people. No matter which country you visit, anywhere in the world, you find a koi pond there. Call the local koi association, and soon you have a good conversation while looking at the beautiful fish. I wrote hundreds of stories about it. I always tried to get behind the culture. The people who practised the hobby fascinated me the most. Writing about it brought me to Germany, Belgium, France, Israel, Japan and most importantly, to Korea.
There I found my great love: the Land of the Morning Calm. Korean culture, its history, philosophy, I read everything about it. The Dae Han Minguk became my second country. Kim Young Soo owner of the www.baedagol.com allowed me to visit the country numerous times.
I was his adviser and acted as his mirror. He showed me the whole country. I visited not only the tourist hotspots but also met many Koreans of all kinds. From top official to flower grower, from ceramics artist to mandarin grower, from a Buddhist monk to fisherman, I made them all during their daily activities.
I internalised their worries, their love and especially their positive approach to everyday life. So that is what I want to write about now. That is what I want the world to know: the beauty and positivity of everything that has to do with Korea. That’s why I started www.mantifang.com. Korea can only be described in associating with China and Japan, which is why the site focuses on East Asia.
The Mantifang attracts a wide audience. There is also much to tell. Time and knowledge are the biggest challenges here. I overcome the latter by appointing correspondents. Are you a correspondent? You can not know everything. In the first Grammarly helps me.
How do I proceed?
Writing is a little bit of inspiration and much hard work. The first I have enough and the second takes much time. So you have to spend that well. I first write the story in Dutch. There are about 24 million people on this earth who can read my mother tongue. A big target group would you think but how many are interested in East Asian culture? Then I translate my text with the program “Translator HD” from Tensift. I have tried many translation programs, but with this app, I achieved the best results. Then I read the text carefully because of course rarities enter the text. Then I use Grammarly.
I never learned English at school. I gained my knowledge of it by listening, reading and speaking. In the latter, it is especially important that you are not afraid to look foolish once in a while.
That is, of course, different when publishing English texts. You can not laugh at the blunder with the reader. You won’t get the chance to try again. The version must arrive well in one go. Asking myself if I accurately did that makes me somewhat insecure. This hesitation is already taken away by using the free Grammarly software. All typos, wrong conjugations, misplaced comma’s and the like are screened and can be improved. The software even determines when you commit plagiarism. Little seems unnecessary because you would, of course, know that yourself. I ‘m curious what the paid version gives me because I am going to use it for the first time.
It only took me half an hour to translate the text and have Grammarly edit it. When you open the app, you come to a page where you can determine the style of your writing. So it is always useful when you know who you are writing for. After the introduction of the text, it goes without saying. Grammarly alerts you to spelling and style errors and even gives directions when a particular word does not suit the chosen audience.
Half an hour! At that time my potential readers increased publicly with 378 million English speaking persons, and I also know that they will take me seriously. I have avoided stupid mistakes with Grammarly.