Welcome to Lin Treadgold who has returned to these shores after a long spell living in Holland. Lin tells us how her world has changed since settling back in England.
After travelling around the world, several times, I can honestly say I’ve probably done it all and have the t-shirt to prove it. My life has been a wonderful journey. However, after fourteen years of living in Holland, I couldn’t get my head around not working any more. I owned a successful business, but with time it was a case of ‘have husband – will travel’ and I had to leave it all behind.
I gave up my instructor training profession in 2001, with the news that Corus Steel was closing its doors in research and my husband had limited choice. However, there was a job waiting within the Dutch company and a higher salary. How could we refuse?
Writing stories has always been second nature. Writing a novel gave me the chance to sit at a computer and relax in my own fictional world; I found it therapeutic and relaxing. I could shut out all the ‘Dutchness’ in my life and have my characters lead the way.
My first novel, Goodbye Henrietta Street was published in 2013. Despite problems with the publisher, I had much support with my RNA colleagues and was encouraged to write my second book. The Tanglewood Affair has had a couple of rejections but only two? I have to keep trying as I had a wonderful report from Cornerstones. My editor said the opening is vivid and engaging and I have drawn the reader into the setting and characters really well. She said I have created a subtle layer of emotional conflict and a sense of anticipation. She emphasised my ability to describe the imposing scene and loved the way the characters are drawn into the story. So I know a professional editor likes it. I realise, that based on this report, I have to keep going. This is what writing is all about. Unless you are lucky enough to be famous and talented anyway, then it’s an uphill slog and also a good excuse to get out of doing the housework because you have to get a book out on time. I actually love writing. What I like best is the ability to change things around and think about what I write. When I speak I can often say the wrong things in the wrong place, but with writing I get a chance to change all that and not offend anyone. My third novel is a work in progress based on life in a prisoner of war camp and the girl the solder left behind in Yorkshire.
In March this year, my first book was republished with Silverwood Books. However, I did find it hard to start promoting my novel. I had lost enthusiasm because of having to edit the book all over again for the umpteenth time, which has paid off with a new cover and helpful publishing staff. I am good at promotion, having owned by own business. The problem came when I found a house in England and we decided to buy it in preparation for my husband’s retirement. I reckon it takes a good six months to put your life back on track after moving countries; book promotion had to go on hold.
Someone asked me about life in Holland. Did I belong to a writer’s group or the library? I lived in a remote part of Holland where English was almost a third language and the second language was German. Joining in with the Dutch society was more difficult that I thought it would be. Although I speak the language now, I have found it very hard-going, as Dutch is not an easy language to the untrained ear. I think I was a very lonely writer in need of British support. If it hadn’t been for Facebook and the RNA parties, I don’t think I would have survived as well as I did. The Dutch people rarely invited me into their homes during my fourteen years of living in Holland. If you live in Amsterdam or Haarlem, it’s more of an expat society, but in the North of Holland, they are farmers and villagers and I had nothing in common and only had writing to keep me sane. I tried opening a new writers group, but we only had two people who were Dutch and lost interest. The English Book shop is in Amsterdam and I did manage a book signing there, but it was almost a two hour journey to get to my destination and didn’t do anything for my book. Looking back, the only good thing for me was that I had time to sit and write a novel.
In January this year, we came to England in preparation for retirement. We found the most wonderful barn conversion in Devon on the bank of the river Taw. When I saw it, I realised the potential for a writing retreat. It was going to be far too early to buy it, but what if we bought it sooner rather than later? I could prepare for when my husband retires at Christmas. In May this year I moved in and by June all the furniture had arrived and it seems I have been unpacking boxes ever since. I have now had to learn how to be British again; it’s been too long.
Since my return, life has changed beyond all expectation. I have joined the local community and become an amateur actress with the local drama group, playing the part of Edna in Slim Chance, a comedy by Peter Gordon. I have received far more phone calls inviting me to events and everyone is so friendly and helpful. I have two venues for book signings. 24 October at Okehampton Library 10-12.30 and on 5 November I am at Bow Garden Centre during the early afternoon.
Devon is a wonderful place and I feel my life has changed. I can’t wait to begin promoting my second novel when I find a publisher and my third book is presently with an agent awaiting perusal. This is all thanks to the RNA and their wonderful networking parties. If I was asked for my advice I would say, if life isn’t working for you – change it!
Thank you, Lin. We hope you enjoy your new life in Devon.
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