Writing

I started writing stories and articles in primary school and was on my school’s first newspaper team.

As a teenager, I sent a letter to a national weekly, about a play by G.B. Shaw, and it was published.

In my early twenties, I sent a letter to a renowned writer at women’s weekly Libelle and submitted an item to women’s weekly Viva. Both contributions were published. I received a voucher from one magazine and a lot of encouragement to write more from the writer at the other magazine. (we spoke over the phone.)

In my mid-to-late 20s, I sent about a dozen letters to the editor of national Dutch daily De Volkskrant, responding to articles in the newspaper. Almost all were published, almost all in the Saturday edition. Most were on violence against women and children. As about 8 out of 10 of mine got published, I had not realized that it was quite hard to get such letters published. I found out later, during an evening course at the Netherlands School of Journalism.

In my early 30s, when I was living in the US, I wrote a letter to the editor of an American newspaper (which won twelve Pulitzer Prizes since 1964, and won two in a single year for the first time in its history, in 2009, but later merged into a larger regional newspaper). That too was published.

I became self-employed in Amsterdam in 1997, also carrying out research and university teaching etc., and continued when I moved to Britain at the end of 2004.

Before I moved to Britain, I was part of the Arcadis Elements magazine team (@ 55 euros per hour, excl. of VAT), editor in chief of the newsletter and scientific yearbook of the Environmental Chemistry (and Toxicology) Section of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society and associate editor for the newsletter of the Geochemical Society, which is based in the US, but spans the globe (for 11 years, continuing in Britain until somewhere in 2010).

I have interviewed people all over the world, on location as well as by phone and e-mail. I particularly remember finally being able to catch up with a very busy person on his mobile phone at an airport in the US, while he was waiting for his connecting flight, as well as speaking with two highly sympathetic people who were based in Hong Kong at the time – all three for the Arcadis magazine Elements – as well as an interview with Claude Allègre in Paris (from which I learned a major lesson) and an interview with Keith O’Nions, who had just been knighted and was about to become the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

More recently, I wrote some quirky flash fiction that is somewhat reminiscent of the work of Spike Milligan, I was told. I think that it only applies to some of it, and discovered that it is probably closer to Donald Barthelme’s style. It’s available from various online retailers.

I published a bioethics essay (“We need to talk about this“, about the new eugenics) at the start of 2017. That version was much too skimpy, I realized, so I took it off the market, and doubled the number of pages in the second version, which I published in 2018 with a new cover.

I should have published that improved version as a second edition, which it was – but I didn’t. It’s available from Amazon in print and as e-book, and as e-book from other major retailers. (Disclaimer: I cannot accept any liability for the results of actions taken by you or anyone else on the basis of anything included in or linked to from this book. Thanks for keeping this in mind.) As the book isn’t very accessible, I decided to record a bunch of videos and turned them into an online course.

I also translated one of Richard Bintanja’s books into “The Ultimate Brainchild” of which the topic suits nicely with the eugenics context and I have contributed considerably to several books in the Dutch “For Dummies” series.

My first academic publication, in marine biogeochemistry, had only me as author and was published as a tripartite discussion with a contribution from a professor from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (on whose work my article was a comment; WHOI has a graduate program in a joint cooperation with Harvard) and one from a professor from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. It was instantly accepted without any revisions. In part, it was a rewrite of a shorter article that I had submitted to Science and after resubmission was deemed more suitable for a specialized journal.

I wrote a review on the environmental chemistry of cyanide, which was cited all over the world. I’ve contributed substantially to a few popular science books published in the Netherlands and a mere quote about the Mariana Trench for a book published in Canada.

Other than that, I have written so many bits and pieces here and there (mostly on geochemistry and environmental chemistry, occasionally including health issues, and also on feminism/women in science), that it’s impossible to list or even remember them all.

I have edited many scientific papers for corporate and university scientists from all over the world and also a few grant proposals for scientists in the US and in the Netherlands (and a few small ones for artists). I also submitted one with a Russian marine scientist who wanted to partner up for a Black Sea project. This requires good writing skills as well as the ability to understand what the paper or proposal is about, and a grasp of how to convey this to the intended audience. The science proposals in question have resulted in grants totaling around 8 million euros/dollars so far.