Posted by: Corri van de Stege | July 11, 2007

From workaholic to bookaholic

Over the past ten years or so I’ve had to focus on work, work, work so that there’s been little time left for my passion: reading books.  Starting the blog was a conscious decision to move away from all of that and at long last do what I like best, creative writing, rather than compiling  endless reports, strategies and briefings, including writing a dissertation and some research stuff.  The latter was interesting though and gave me a real kick.  So I am now reverting back to becoming a bookaholic again, as I used to be in my teens, twenties and even thirties. 

There are not enough hours in the day to read everything I want to read and to muse about all the things that I want to write about.  I’ve finished my ‘Helena’s story’, ready for submission to my Creative Writing Tutor and I must say I was greatly heartened by the advice provided by the Baroque in Hackney   (a thoughtful piece of advice about writing, editing etc.).  Sometimes your first trial is the best and stories/novels don’t always improve through endless editing.  I felt my first attempt was the best, then I began to doubt myself and started cutting and pasting and chopping and adding.  Some of this was necessary.  However, I now think I’ve just got to trust what I’ve got there and submit (scary though this is).

The challenge to read 6 ‘travel books’ got me thinking about what I wanted to enter there (see previous blog) and then I found myself picking up Amin Maalouf’s Leo the African, which has been sitting on my shelf to be read for a couple of months now. It’s a great read (especially if you like ‘stories’) and really appropriate to include in the list.  So I will make some changes.  The first part of the book is about what happens to ‘Leo the African’ and his family in Spain (in the 15th century mind!)  ‘The book of Granada’ and it reminded me of a trip I made to that part of the world for work, some ten years ago.  There was a  meeting on working together on ‘sustainability in education and training’ or some such title, with representatives from across Europe, working together on a joint project (that was in the time when there still seemed to be a flush of funding for these kind of activities, not sure whether that is still the case).  Anyway, I had a flight to Malaga, arriving around 9 in the evening and had a car booked to drive to Ronda.  I had never been to this part of Spain so was not sure why the car hire agents looked questioningly at me when I said I was going to drive straight on to Ronda from the airport, even though it was late (and dark).  By the time I got in the car it was pitch black, not so bad on the first stretch but then I began to realise that the road became quite steep, with limited street lighting.  There were very few cars on the road and there were some hairpin bends as well during the constant climb, which I did notice!  I arrived in Ronda around midnight and at first had difficulty finding the hotel (and car parking space) but eventually got to my hotel room and bed.  The next morning I related to some colleagues that I had found it quite difficult driving so they laughed and said it had been just as well I had not been aware of where I was driving because I would not have been so self-assured: we were of course at the top of the mountain, the road winding its way up alongside quite steep precipes, in places without any barriers whatsoever. 

Ronda is beautiful however with the famous bridges and I greatly enjoyed my stay there, although it was only for a very few days  and most of the time was spent in meeting rooms.  We had some walks around, including a guided tour of some of the bridges, the parks and little streets and nookies and crannies.  I keep telling myself that I must go again and spend some more time there.

After Ronda some of us went on to Madrid for additional meetings.  I’d been to Madrid before, a few times in fact, but cannot claim I know my way around off the top of my head.  So when a number of us arrived, Germans, Dutch and a Norwegian we had to puzzle our way through the underground and stood debating in front of a map, realised which train to get on and ran for it.  As we got on, another group of mainly young men got on at the same time and then two of them grabbed two of my German colleagues.  We looked dumbfounded and puzzled and they all protected their pockets and bags whilst I (the only female) stood slightly aside watching what was going on.  As sudden as they had come on the train, they disappeared again, just as the door was closing: the obvious pickpocket game: whilst I stood watching what was happening, a quiet guy stood next to me and lifted my wallet out of my bag!  Fortunately, it only had cash, I kept my credit cards separately.  That was not such a nice experience, however, not typically Spanish of course as my whole bag plus contents was stolen on a separate working trip to Amsterdam some years later, whilst having dinner in a restaurant!  And that was home territory! 



  1. Amin Maalouf Website

    Have a nice visit!

  2. […] there is actually a website for Amin Maalouf – a comment was left on one of my previous blogs, from workaholic to bookaholic, when I first started writing about Leo the African.  I am halfway through the book now and it is […]

  3. The workaholic has an unhealthy addiction, a workaholic is a person who is addicted to work and his/her career. There is no commonly accepted medical definition of such a condition, although some forms of stress and obsessive-compulsive disorder can be work-related.

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