One of the people I admire immensely is Belgian author and poet Bart Moeyaert, so when my teacher, prize-winning author Benny Lindelauf, read a chapter from Moeyaert’s much-praised book Brothers (Broere), last Saturday, I sat back and let his beautiful prose seep into my inner world. In Brothers Moeyaert gives the reader a touching peek into his childhood as the youngest of seven brothers.

Good things never come in ones, is my experience. And indeed this one didn’t either, for Bart Moeyaert turned out to be scheduled for a talk, an interview and a debate in Amsterdam. Needless to say that I rushed over to the Balie right away. I have to thank my dear friend Daphne de Heer of the SLAA — the association that organizes literary activities in Amsterdam — for once again organizing a fabulous evening.
In the intimacy of a small theater room, Moeyaert told us how he came to be a writer. He told us about quietness and about din, about the facades we hide our secrets behind, about the world of inspiration around us that you will find if you listen intently and look with an open mind. He touched upon the fact that the ‘literary world’ often regards children’s book writers as irrelevant. We’re not! We’re the solid grounds on which the tuition of every child is built.

Anyway, Moeyaert told us he was labeled a dreamer in school and that struck a chord with me. I still have my old school reports. They are stashed away somewhere, but it doesn’t take me much to call them to mind, every single one marred by variations of the same line in that grim school teacher’s handwriting: ‘Mina could do so much better if she would stop dreaming.’
No matter how hard those teachers tried to grab my attention, I never did stop dreaming. It took me years before I figured out why I was destined to dream. Dreaming is what makes me a writer. Dreaming is what makes me me. I dream up stories and characters and lives and worlds. Something flashing by in the corner of my eye can spark a new plot. A ripple in the water can cause a wave of new stories.
If you ever meet me and I drift off, don’t be alarmed. Or offended. It’s not because I think you’re boring. It’s because you kindle my writing fire. Your voice might be the voice of a character in my next book, your story might offer me just that turn or twist of a plot that I need. Let me dream and I will give you stories.

My next story, ‘Opa is de weg kwijt’ (‘Grandpa’s Lost’) is scheduled to appear in May 2012 in the read-aloud anthology Het grote voorleesboek voor opa’s en oma’s (The Big Read-Aloud Book for Grandpa’s and Grandma’s) by Ploegsma children’s book publishers.