DOETINCHEM – Vera Visser initially wrote ‘The Seed Test’ for her children and grandchildren. But the book about her childhood demands a wider audience: seniors who have lived through the sixties and seventies and young people who are curious about the time and want to immerse themselves in the life of a Catholic girl who chooses to go to housekeeping school. go.
By Josee Gruwel
Vera Visser was born in 1952 into a large, Catholic horticultural family in the North Dutch village of Graft, which is located near Alkmaar and at that time had about eight hundred inhabitants. She was the seventh of eight children. At the age of 24, she moved to Doetinchem. There, she evolved from a housekeeping schoolgirl to an HBO student. She went to the social academy and ended her working life in 2015 as a full-time manager at the housing association Vivare in Arnhem.
During her working life, she had a desire to write a book about her childhood when she retired. Just relaxed, without a deadline, without having to make concessions and without having to make a career as a writer. “My plan was to write a book from the perspective of a ten-year-old girl, because at that age my father died and it had a big impact on our family.”
But when she retired, she did not feel like a writer. “What I had written in my life, such as policy notes and letters to residents, was always work-related. Few people had ever received a card or letter from me. Still, I have something with language and communication, I used to be a linguistic child. ”
The blood creeps where it can not go, and in 2017 Visser took a writing course with Gemma van Dalen at Gruitpoort in Doetinchem. “Ten lessons, it was manageable. As it goes with the bakers: ‘Bakers … just bake’, so it went on the course: ‘Authors … just write.’ We wrote different kinds of stories, such as short stories and columns. I enjoyed writing and thought it was easy. ”
However, due to sad private circumstances, it took some years before the writing of her book began.
When the time came, Visser took no chances: She went looking for a writing coach and found Jacqueline Zirkzee via Google. She sat in silence many weekdays, working behind the computer at the large table in her living room. She forgot the time, got into a flow.
In chronological order, from her birth until she was almost eighteen, her story took shape. “I did not have to invent anything, I drew on memories.” She wrote in the present and in the I-form. “For nowadays, when you read it, it is as if you are experiencing it now, and in the I-form you come closest to yourself as a writer.”
She abandoned the previous premise of writing from a 10-year-old. Each month, she texted her coach and based on that, a coaching conversation ensued. “It was so penetrating after I was often off the map for a week.”
A private road
In ten months’ time, the story arose of the girl who, as the youngest child, survives in the large family and experiences that grandmother – who lives with it – suddenly dies, and father becomes seriously ill and dies.
Communication was not the strongest thing in the family at the time, and after the death of the father, all the attention from the outside world does not also go to the children, but only the mother. The grieving mother, as a victim, does her best to take care of her children, but not strong enough and unable to take them emotionally. It leaves the family out of control.
From the age of ten, Vera is mainly governed by everyday events, customs and rituals in the village. Not really her mother, but primarily friends and a boyfriend play a role in this. She begins to question the important role the Church played in Vera’s early years. Sunday dresses In clear pictures, with many facts and sometimes tangible emotions, Vera’s life unfolds in the time of Sunday dresses, Okki Trooy, glasses by Exota, breast skirts with a Maria medal on, shoes from Bata, swing boats at. the mass, the first communion and the first television, closed curtains when there is a death in the house, the Lent, the courtship and the girls with the ‘musts’ (must be married because they are pregnant). And then there’s the seed test, the pregnancy test back then, that suddenly changed Vera’s life when she was seventeen.
What is remarkable about reading is that the story is not actually location-bound. The picture of the time is so recognizable that the changes could also have taken place in a village in Achterhoek. Precisely the recognizable, trigger to read on.
As a result of the book, Vera Visser was invited by the Graft Archaeological Association to give a presentation in the old town hall in Graft. She is also ready to hold this presentation in Achterhoek. “Imagine: a girl who went to a housekeeping school and wrote a book about it is giving a talk to women who also went to a housekeeping school.”
‘Seed test’ is published by aquaZZ publishing house and costs 18 euros.
The book can be ordered through local bookstores and bol.com. You can contact the author via: email@example.com.