After rereading some of the stories I eagerly read in my youth by the Dutch writer J.M.A. Biesheuvel I noticed that he actually gives clear hints about his ways of collecting material for his stories.
In for example the story Broos’ boze droom from the bundle Slechte Mensen (1973) Biesheuvel tells about a man who writes down his dreams that are a mixture of all sorts of events and combines this with weird stories heard from all sorts of people around him.
Looking at a number of Biesheuvel’s own stories this seems to be a valid explanation for the contents of a lot of his works. The majority of his short stories is packed with anecdotes and sometimes surreal situations with clear autobiographical elements. It creates a wonderful mixture of dialogues, events and images.
Another hint about this way of collecting material comes from the story Het Medaillon from the bundle De Angstkunstenaar where he tells about two window cleaners that visited the office where he worked and that told a lot of colourful stories. He continues by telling that he regrets that he can only remember one of the stories because “In those days I didn’t make notes yet (…)”. This story is also a good example of Biesheuvel’s style as it starts with a situation sketch that is later completely abandoned, a detail that adds to the feeling of a spontaneous and personal way of telling stories.
It seems like a practical way of composing stories that could fit me well as I like to write down all sorts of fragments, dialogues, thoughts and stories from inside my own brain or life around me. Combining some of them in short stories is a good way of using as much as I can.