This Monday bank holiday Ayke and I decided to do something useful for once so we dragged ourselves out of bed in the morning and crawled towards the Antwerp Expo Centre for the book fair they organised over the weekend.
I’ve been to other book fairs before but this one surprised me, I must say.
From the moment you walk in, you get totally lost in the crowd of people with bags, kids running around all excited, maps everywhere and those rooms…! When I say room I fall short, each and single one of them was bigger than a tennis court.
…So I finally found the ‘English people’ corner. It was quite small but they actually had some good stuff there. Between the dozens of girlie series of books such as 50 Shades of Grey (that after hearing so much about I’ll have to give up and read), some classic authors and few books about self-help – my guilty pleasure –, I dug out few copies of my favourite author, Paulo Coelho. I came across his books during my last trip to Russia and it truly made my holidays. He has a way of writing that gives me goose bumps on every single page I read. His stories are unique and beautiful in their very own way and once you start, it’s so hard to stop that it made me arrive late to a thousand of meetings, forget about food, cry rivers, laugh out loud, forget what day of the week it was or the reason why I was upset before I started reading. He’s just amazing.
Our last stop was some sort of crazy old school machine. A friendly guy told us that it wasn’t a time machine but a publishing book house and that we would have our own blank copy printed right there and then! How awesome is that?! You come in, a keyboard pops out of nowhere, you type in your name, the title, the wall takes a snapshot of your confused face and on the way out they take a cool picture of you as a proud author of your very own first printed book with your face on the back!
Easier said than done. Since the machine was speaking to me in Dutch, I got my dear friend to come inside with me to translate. First of all, I must remark the situation: it was one hour before closing on the last day of the fair and both Ayke and I were inside this shoebox with a huge queue outside and an impatient photographer waiting for us to get the hell out of there to do his job. The first part of typing my name seemed quite easy but oh no, I must have forgotten that Dutch keyboards are different and some of the letters I was looking for were lost somewhere else so I had to spell my full name to Ayke, which was also a challenge considering my surnames are so long!
Finally, after a typo and starting all over again 3 times, noticing the “back to last page” option way too late, Ayke crouching under me for the snapshot and a complaining queue, I was sweating like a pig but Polina’s world and everything in between was printed!
I started writing when I was about 8 years old but never made it to go past short stories so I believe this machine was a sign that now is the time to get hands on it! Or as Paulo had certainly said in the Alchemist, “When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”.
Well, my last name is ambition.