Karlijn Stoffels's career.
I ran away from kindergarten. You had to prick a small mat with a sharp pen and I thought that wasn't fair on the mat. What's more, the people there treated you like a little child.
I wrote my first play at primary school. It was called 'Misunderstanding', and the idea behind it was to let everyone know how many long words I could use. Actually, I thought that 'misunderstanding' meant something like 'no brains'. Form Two performed the play and it was a great success. I directed it. Our teacher thought it was a shame that I kept leaping on the stage shouting at the actors, "Don't forget your lines, dummy!"
Then I went to Grammar School. Our Dutch teacher told me I ought to be a writer, but I hated the idea of living in a garret all alone and eating out of a tin. I put it off as long as possible, but I did become a writer after all.
I studied French at Leiden University. This wasn't much fun. The lecturers were old and dull and repeated themselves every year. You had to do your exams at their homes with them sitting in their pyjamas. They did wear a dressing-gown, admittedly. You could see their thin white hairy legs under the desk. And you had to name forty scholars who had written a grammar in the sixteenth century. Plus their dates.
Teaching was a lot more fun. And I was making some money. This was in the 1970s when the teachers were tougher and had longer hair than their pupils. When a couple of these young blades got fired, we all went on strike. It was my idea, I remember. It led to the Leiden School Action Group, now a nation-wide organisation. Later I went to Russia and - hardly a coincidence - Perestroika occurred straight afterwards. But that's another story.
On deciding to
be a writer, I took a course at the Writers Training College for a couple of
years. This was enjoyable - and useful, as I still dreaded that lonely garret.
I received my first commission for a radio play through the college. "It
doesn't matter if you write rubbish," the director said, "I'll turn
it into something good." And he did.