A new book, a new blog

The last 1.5 years I’ve been home in the Netherlands and hardly been traveling. There are two reasons for that.

The first reason I went home was a financial one: I had invested all my money in a trip of 27,000 kilometers, traveling overland from the polar bears in Canada to the penguins in southern Chile. It was a grand adventure, and I undertook the trip deliberately to write about it.

When I came home, I moved back in with my parents. I’m still living there. The first few months I had a truly hard time figuring out what to do next. Yes, I had a book to write, and I worked hard on it, but the financial situation required my getting a job.

It’s hard to go back to a working life after having lived a life of self-sufficiency that comes with so many lessons, epiphanies, and freedom. You feel like doing a step back. I’d been telling myself I was a travel writer now. I was traveling, taking notes, chatting with people. But you go home and it all feels so… I don’t know, like you took a break while the rest of the world has moved on.

Oh, yes. The weddings and mortgages and babies were everywhere! And there I was – jobless, living with the folks, always reminding myself that I’d been on the road.

But I took a job, kept working on the book, got a Dutch health insurance, went to the dentist, and built up an emergency fund that I’m not to touch – just in case I run out of money again.

The second reason was the book, and then all the other books. I’d self-published several books, throwing English-written books on-line to be bought on Amazon and other on-line bookstores without even thinking of hiring an editor. I suppose I was groping in the dark, taking things too lightly. I even photoshopped my own covers.

I reached a point where I thought: if you want to be taken serious, you got to take things seriously. And so all the books went off-line. My old blog stalled. I went back to square one, deliberately, and started work on a number of projects, which are now one-by-one materializing, slowly but surely.

The book on the Americas came back from the editor two days ago; I’ve just created a Kindle version and it’s now “in review” – the last step for a book before becoming available on Amazon. This means that American Safari, the book that combines a grand and adventurous journey in the spirit of Paul Theroux with the wit and kind of humor of Bill Bryson, should be available tomorrow.

UPDATE: It’s available! Check it out here!

As a writer, I’m ambitious enough to try and write a story (but preferably a book) about every country in the world. And because I’m in the Netherlands now, I decided to take on my home country. Normally in travelogues, the writer/traveler is an alien walking around like Alice in Wonderland, getting into situations that would never occur back home. But as a Dutchman in the Netherlands, I’m not mesmerized by strange things – everything is familiar.

And therefore I had to come up with a different approach: I decided to go in-depth, recording personal stories, interviewing famous Dutch people, visiting places that are significant in Dutch history, and in doing so create not so much a travelogue as a national portrait, if you will, of the Netherlands.

But remember that I’d taken everything off-line? Well, imagine a museum director getting an email from one Jeroen Vogel, who says he’s writing a book but has nothing to show for it. How could I expect him to take me seriously?

And so I decided to translate my books In Australia and In Vietnam into Dutch. With these two titles behind my name, I could rightly say that In Holland is the third title in the series. And it has worked in my favor so far: the book on the Netherlands is now a work in progress, and the project is going really well.

And in between I reworked a smaller book, Baffling Banff, which was edited and published in August.

In short, there are four titles on the market now. Two English-written titles, and the Dutch versions of In Australia and In Vietnam. The English versions of the latter two will be available by the end of this year, but I did so much improving as I was translating, that especially the book on Australia needs a lot of rewriting. With these two titles back on the shelves, there will be six professionally edited books available.

A new blog
Because I was working full-time and did the books in my spare time, I did not have much time for blogging. But here we are. I cut down my working hours in order to work harder on all the writing. Including a Dutch-written and an English-written blog. Two new blogs!

What can you expect on this blog? Anything related to travel, with an emphasis on travel advice and travel stories.

Normally, people start out with a blog, and then write books they can sell to their blog readers. Well, I do it the other way around. I’m starting from scratch, but with four books under my belt. Everything takes time, but I’m confident that this is the start of something great and beautiful.

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