Blogwarming Party

Hier Beitrag auf Deutsch lesen

norbert josefsson


Grab a drink, take a seat or join me on the dance floor and let’s celebrate together.
The sofa is already there, decoration is not yet complete, table and chairs are ordered but not yet delivered, so take some cushions and make yourself comfortable in my place of creativity, my new virtual home.

Just like a housewarming party where not everything is 100% ready and perfect, I throw this blogwarming party today, where the frame is set, new layout plastered on the walls, but some details might still be added or removed in the course of the coming weeks.
Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it here and that you come over and visit me often.

After two years of not blogging, many months of planning the new layout, structuring ideas and setting up a whole strategy and subject schedule, pulling all-nighter after all-nighter in order to progress and proceed here, my fingertips are still covered in colour, my hair’s a mess and I’m still sweating.

But you see me with a smile on my face as it feels good to be back.

Let me give you a quick “room tour”. – Everybody should know where the loo and the fridge with fresh beer is, huh? –
On top you find the different topics.
The portfolio offers you an insight into my photo and video repertoire.
The about section offers you information on me, this blog and my work. Same in German below.
The services section gives you an overview of the services I offer on this website, including modelling and writing with the specific services of poetry & prose for special occasions and professional storytelling.
Contact & booking explains itself, I guess.
The Creative Chaos Cloud shows you all categories which you can find blog entries about, so that you can quickly get to the topics you’re interested in.

So much for the room tour, I hope you’re gonna find your way and if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’m trying to be a good host, you know.

What are the plans for the next weeks, what do I offer and why should you come back?
First of all, I’ve worked hard on a concept and contents that might be of value and interest for you.
So, here is what I came up with:
I will blog four times a month, so once a week about topics connected to the different fields I’m working in. One topic a week, that is.
Thus, what you gonna get is this:
#modelmonday: Information for models and photographers, funny anecdotes I experienced during 10 years in front of the camera and other info connected to this field.
#writerswednesday: Information for writers and readers, food for thought, inspiration and impulses revolving around writing and reading.
#socialsaturday: Random topics connected to us humans interacting with one another, social phenomenons, questions, perspectives, impulses on social topics.
#sundaystory: Yes, the sundaystory will be back and we gonna play again. If you don’t know what the sundaystory is, please click here. I will announce the next round early enough, but this won’t be before August probably, as I still owe two of my readers their stories.

After this blogwarming party, where you can take your time to stroll around and look at the redecoration, the new furniture and features, there will be a special series on the balcony, a.k.a instagram. So, don’t forget to check out my plants on the balcony, too.
Plus, I will also take you with me behind the scenes of creative productions in the insta stories.
The special series has been a production with Norbert Josefsson, which we produced last year, but I considered it so beautiful that I kept it for a special moment.
And I think that moment has come now.
So every day, starting on Friday, 15th June, I’m going to post one picture with text on instagram and facebook, which will add up to a series of six. On Thursday, 21st, you will get the complete series here on the blog as well as on instagram.

After the special we will start off with the first sundaystory on the 24th, as it has been two years of me owing these stories to two of my readers.
I hope you’re still there and I hope you still gonna read it.

Which leads me, after the organisational part, to the speech I’m supposed to give on such an event before everybody starts popping bottles like crazy – or at least that’s what I’m gonna do –.
Ahem, clink clink, ladies and gents, may I have your attention please: (you better grab another shot and drink, this is gonna take a while – or just skip the part written in italics – the perk of being here virtually and not in reality)

Thanks for being here tonight, for sharing this moment with me, for taking some time out of your busy day to join this celebration.
I’d like to thank all of the followers here on WordPress that stayed although I haven’t blogged for two years, which, in nowadays time is like an eternity.
Also I’d like to thank all the followers on instagram that didn’t unfollow when I didn’t post for six months, which is close to social media suicide.
I’d like to thank the virtual community for staying with me, supporting me and being patient with me.

Most of all, I’d like to thank the people, especially my closest friends, who virtually and in real life sent me their positive vibes and words, who encouraged me to keep up the work, who relentlessly kept asking about my work, my art, my blog, my writings and my poetry, who invested their time and energy to provide me with tipps and tricks, good advice and knowledge about social media, who gave me input and impulses for new content, who were patient with me when I asked for advice and feedback and who were loving and caring when I had to say “no” to events and instead had to sit down and work, who shared their nurturing positive energy with me and who knowingly or unknowingly inspired me and fuelled my motivation.

Without all of you, your patience and support, we probably wouldn’t be celebrating today.
It wasn’t an easy time and task, but now we’re here and I raise my glass to all of you. I’m forever grateful.

martin zethoff

Now enough of the talk and enjoy your time here, I hope you gonna stay a little longer and come back frequently.
If you have any questions, let me know.



My Catalyst for Creative Impulses

My dears,

It’s already been a while since I’ve been blogging.
But I’m on it, working on it.
But here’s something, I wanted to invite you to:
Follow me on Instagram!
Because, you know, sometimes, when it’s just too busy a time to sit down and write a blog post (including obsessive paranoia about spelling mistakes resulting in three circles of proofreading..), but still inspiration hits you hard, you need to find a way to release that creative pressure.
And I found a catalyst for those inspirations that jump on me in moments when I’m most busy and in the flow, mainly when I take a short coffee or tea break from working.
Well, that catalyst is Instagram, because with the app InstaQuote I can create neat little pictures with texts on it and upload them on Instagram and Facebook with just one click.
So, if you don’t want to miss out on anything, I invite you to follow my Insta profile to stay tuned.
Of course this doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop blogging, it’s just a way to release the pressure that builds up when inspiration strikes me, but I don’t find the time to create a full blog post here.
Here are some results that I’ve created so far:

This one was the first one I created and I felt so released afterwards

The following one was my contribution to Valentine’s Day (for all the cynics out there 😉 )

The following one has the caption:
“Talent is fine, but in order to live up to your full potential, passion is essential. Passion and the will to pursue and to persist. To pursue your dreams and to persist on your goals. And to persevere when it gets hard.”


And of course I use it for funny things as well 😉

Please tell me what you think?
Do you have any recommendations for other apps that might be helpful?
You can comment here or on Facebook or on Instagram.

I hope a wonderful and joyful Easter weekend is ahead of you.
All the best and stay tuned. 🙂


Creating Controversial Content

Photo & Editing: Dave Greensmith, 2012

Controversial content can raise awareness, right?
Often it does.
A “Fuck” in the title is almost a guarantee for clicks and reads, isn’t it?
And when you utter a controversial sentence, you can assume that a huge discussion will break loose, right?
Controversies polarise and that’s why they often gain attention.
That’s why many people use controversies on purpose.

I once created controversial content.
But not on purpose.
I created content. The story Underground.
And back at that time (still on the old blog) I got a response to it.
A response that showed me that I actually had created controversial content without being aware of it.
Suddenly, when reading this comment, I was confronted with a critique of this story, because the comment criticised the headscarf that is mentioned.
It was said the headscarf was a sign of oppression through the patriarchal system.

My first reaction to that?
“Sh*t, I need to delete this story, it’s controversial and bears the potential to polarise.”
I was shocked because I didn’t expect this controversy to arise from this story.

But you know what the good thing about a critical comment is?
It makes you shift your perspective onto the very thing you created.
Because what happened next was that I started arguing for the story, like I would defend my argument when it comes to literary analysis.
So I was wandering through my room with a cup of tea in my hands and hold an imaginary dialogue, or monologue, and said
Well, first of all, neither is the headscarf condemned nor is it glorified in this story, second, don’t read too much of the author into the work, as it’s only the character’s perception described, thirdly, take a postcolonial reading to it and you will see that Orientalism is at work here, as the character associates exactly the attributes to the woman that can only stem from an Orientalist point of view, like “I smell a thousand scents of the Orient, spices and perfumes, bodies and wood, sand and the sun.”. Furthermore, this aspect is even criticised in the story when it is said “[…] I want to listen to two thousand and two stories told by her.”, which aims at showing that still the stereotype of “1001 Arabian nights” is at play here, because although the amount of stories is doubled they are still limited, which shows a critical claim that the Occidental point of view is limited and doesn’t grant the woman of Oriental origin an unlimited number of stories. On the other hand, the story also shows a disappointment raised by the fact that the perception is shaped and therefore somehow limited to a certain extent, when in the end it is said that “And I will never know her stories. And she will never know that I wrote one about her.” after the two characters separate. So, it shows the sadness that those two characters and their perception of each other and of themselves will never be as close as they could have been.
This was just a little excerpt of the monologue, but I hope you can see what I mean.
Had there not been this critical comment, probably I would never have changed my perspective on the content that I myself created.
Because, to be honest, everything mentioned in this monologue had not been in my mind while creating this story, only after receiving the critical comment and when I started arguing and discussing my own work was it that I could read more into my own work and engage differently with it.
And today I’m glad that I didn’t delete it, and I’m thankful for that critical comment, because it opened my perception towards a new perspective.

It still didn’t make me want to create controversial content on purpose, but I think it helped me overcome the fear of putting something out there that might be controversial or have critical comments as a result.

It was a perfect example of inspiration through communication and I invite you all to think about it.
I invite you to overcome your fear of putting yourself or your work out there because someone might criticise it.
Critique can be a great chance to change perspectives, to see more, experience more, and it is an interaction between you and your audience, but also between you and your work.
I’m not saying “try to take sh*t from the naysayers as something good”, no, please don’t.
But if it is a constructive critical comment, don’t be afraid of engaging with it.

So long, my dears.
Be kind, spread the love.
Be creative. Be yourself.

Dear Brother

#tbt: I once submitted this one to a flash fiction competition with the given topic of “a lie”. Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but I hope you like it. 🙂

Dear Brother,

Probably you’re going to call me a liar, as everyone else does in our neat and
narrow-minded neighbourhood.
But you’re old enough now. Happy 21st birthday, little one!
I’m not going to put all the cards on the table. I’m going to make the whole house of cards collapse! The house you call home. The house you call your life.
Where do I start? I didn’t run away like Mum and Dad told you. They threw me out. Because I didn’t live up to their expectations. And failure is forbidden in this family.
How funny and paradox, when I think about it, as our beloved parents did fail on so many levels.
Mum isn’t as perfect and loyal as everybody claims her to be. That’s why Dad isn’t your dad.
Are the thin paper walls already shaking, brother?
You wonder why I didn’t celebrate your 18th birthday with you? They told you I left everything and everyone behind me when I ran away, right? Even you. But I didn’t.
They wouldn’t let me enter the house anymore. So I climbed the neighbour’s tree to watch you celebrate in the garden. Eating colourful cake and sipping soda. By the way, Mum didn’t bake the cake herself as she told you, she bought it at Cosmo Cupcakes down the road. I sat in that tree and saw you eating cake while Dad was filling up his tea with booze and Mum was locking herself in the shrubbery to call one of her lovers. Oh, and while you were enjoying your perfect party, I saw your oh so perfect girlfriend making out with your best buddy behind the hedge.
What a lovely party it was!
Remember when Mum and Dad told you they wouldn’t like you to participate in those BMX competitions because they were afraid you would get injured badly? Well, actually they thought you weren’t good enough.
And failure is forbidden in this family.
Dear Brother, you’ve been living a lie.
And that’s the truth.

Yours faithfully

Lying Lucy, the shame of the family

Mirror Madness

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Photo & Editing: Ralph Wietek

Fitting to the upcoming Halloween, here something uncanny 😉

Mirror Madness

The uncanny. The unfamiliar. Something that doesn’t feel familiar, not like home anymore. The other. And yet it is in my home. Should normally be an image of myself and not of the other.
It’s dark and quiet, I am alone. The familiar noises muffle and shuffle away and what is left is silence. While I’m wandering around searching for something known, something familiar, even the sound of my feet on the old floorboards sound strange. I switch on the light and I’m frightened. What I see there should be familiar, known, but it scares me. As if this pretended image of myself suddenly could start a life of its own, turn into another direction, even wink at me! Like in this nightmare years ago, where this person, caged in modified glass, looked at me from strange green eyes, laughing, maybe even laughing at me, winked at me and stuck out its tongue and nobody was there, who could have helped me, nothing familiar that could have put this person into its place. The world was sleeping. And I was alone with this stranger.
I shake my head and sneak into the bathroom. Cold water will revive the senses.
But after drying my face, I look up from the towel and it’s there again, this strange person. I try to gain control by forcing it to do what I do. I do grimaces, it does as well. I laugh and smile, but what laughs back and smiles back, or better to say smiles at me like a maniac, is not me! Can’t be me! I don’t want it to be me!
And a feeling that had been banned from my body for so long, crawls up through my feet, first slowly and then rapidly and lies down heavily on my breast: Fear.
I’m frightened and scared, I can barely breath. I am alone. Could somebody please come and set an end to this mirror madness?
The fear grows. Even after turning away from the framed glass, it feels as if this strange person was still there, as if I wasn’t there anymore. I try to feel myself, to gain back ground under my feet and to tell myself that I am still there and that I am stronger than the stranger. But I don’t feel myself, I’m not there.
Fear paralyses. And paralysed I dare one step after the other, slowly, through the omnipresent uncertainty.
Finally! A familiar sound in front of the door, a key, a shrieking noise. I am not alone anymore.
For an instance my fingertips start getting warmer again and I decide to set an end to all this by going to bed. Tomorrow will be a better day.
A last hesitating glance over my shoulder. It stares back. Does its mouth move? Does mine? Do I smile?
I touch my face, but my fingertips and my face feel unfamiliar. Nothing is familiar anymore.
It’s unfamiliar. It’s uncanny.

Gina Laventura © 2014


#tbt: Enough!

Nobody ever thought that she’d leave them.
But she left them all.
They fought too much or not enough.
Why she left them? Because they didn’t have the right perception of her. And she couldn’t convince them to change their view.
Is it now her fault because she was incapable to show them what she considered the right view? Or is it theirs because of their incapability to change their view because they were stuck in their narrow-minded boxes? She doesn’t know.
Maybe this isn’t about fault at all. But sometimes she wonders why they perceived her like they did. How could they think that she’d never leave? Never go away? Never get sick of all the arguments, all the little heartbreaks, all the aspects that caged her in a personality that wasn’t hers? How did it occur to them that she was for granted?
She never took any of them for granted. Nothing was sure for her.
And yet some of them left. Well, not actually and really, because they didn’t tell her that it was over. But they separated from her before she made the final cut.
In their minds. There the process of separation started. As it is always the mind where things start. And the heart of course.
Her gut always seemed to be smarter than her. But she didn’t listen.
She kept on doing what she did, endured what she didn’t have to endure. Because she thought she had to learn to stop being a little runaway and learn how to endure.
Until one fine day it was enough.
And then she left.

Gina Laventura © 2013

Book Recommendation: The Book Thief

As I have honoured Markus Zusak’s work in my latest #sundaystory, I’d now like to give a ‘real’ recommendation for this book.

Attention! There might be some spoilers.
But this is going to be more of a personal story about this book.
So, let’s start at the beginning. As you might know by now, I study literature. That also means that you get a reading list at the beginning of the semester. This time it was The Book Thief that was – amongst other books and secondary literature – on the list. So, I read the description. “Set in World War II”, my reaction “ugh, again?!” (’cause we have been smashed dead and deaf with this topic in school), “It is told by Death”, my reaction “wtf, how much more depressing can it get?”, “584 pages”, my reaction “Oh, great, it’s not as if I had other plans or other texts to read during non-term, no prob”. I sighed and opened the book. First page. Let’s see what we’ve got to deal with here. I read the first page. And it got me. Like rarely any other book ever did! I devoured the book! I read on any occasion that offered itself, I was looking forward to continuing reading, I was amazed!
Really, I mean, how much more odds could stand against it and then it struck me like I haven’t encountered it in years of reading (and having to read due to the choice of studies).
The plot and its lessons are amazing, the characters so authentic and real and at the same time artistic. Against all doubts, Death turned out to make an amazing narrator, but moreover and more than anything else: The meta levels of the story and the true art of language that one can find in this book are absolutely worth studying, worth reading, worth thinking and talking about!
And that’s what we did, half the semester. And that’s what I did. I chose this piece of art as the topic for my exam.
So, recently I gave a talk in the frame of our student conference about “The Artificial Nature of Death in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief” and I analysed the meta levels that offered themselves by making Death the narrator of the story. And the more I think about this topic, the more approaches enter my mind.
This story grabbed me and I could go on talking about this book, so, this is a real and honest recommendation:
If you want to read a book that bears the potential to touch you, to move you, to make you laugh, to make you cry, to make you shiver, that might grab you from the very first page and that is a true piece of art concerning the word choice and the narrative technique, get this book!

And if you’re going to read it now or if you have already read it, feel free to share your opinion with me and others. 🙂

And Mr Zusak, if you are ever going to read this: If you ever like to discuss your own work, feel free to contact me, I’d have so many questions and so many things to say. But for now, I will stick with a simple: Thank you so much for this piece of art!

Taking a shower

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Photo & Edtiing: GOTOX, 2011

Today a result from a writing exercise I had to do in one of my courses.
Basically the exercise was this: Normally you handle adjectives and comparisons carefully, just like stereotypes, but this time, think about something that you did today and try to compare it to anything and use many adjectives. Exaggeration helps to become aware of stylistic devices.

Taking a shower

This morning I woke up and my back was hurting like hell. I felt as if I had been run down by a lorry.
I knew the only suitable pain relief I could get was a hot shower, so I took my towels and my peeling gloves which remind me of goose-bumps on a shivering body when I touch them and opened my door which made a similar shrieking noise like me after having noticed the severe pain in my back. I tiptoed over the blue carpet that was leading my way to the shower from one edge of the hallway to the other just like those tunnel visions people have when they are about to die. I could even see the white light at the end of the corridor. While I was tiptoeing the blue carpet tickled my feet and it felt as comfortable as the grass did back in my childhood days when I ran across the green of our back garden.
When I finally reached the bathroom door I opened it as quiet as I could to not be reminded of that shrieking sound again. I entered the shower room and closed the door, put my towels on the doorknob and started undressing myself like in slow motion. Although for me it felt as if I was moving like an old woman who was suffering from some severe disease, I imagined myself as undressing with a sexy slowness as if I was about to seduce somebody with this striptease. I let my clothes drop like leafs of a tree in autumn and entered the shower. Then I shut the door and despite the fact that this shower room is more reminiscent of a cabin in a psychiatric clinic and unsuitable for claustrophobics, I just felt protected like a pearl in a shell.
I turned on the hot water and let it run down my aching body, stretched my arms and reached on tiptoes for the top of the shower door in a position that reminded me of some random BDSM story where the victim is tied up, about to being whipped.

Gina Laventura © 2012

funny anecdote: I read this story out loud in class and my lecturer said “Well, your story seems to work as all the boys, the further you went in your story, blushed and started watching their feet.”

Sneak Peek into Labelled Love: A Borrowed Life

Today another little sneak peek into my book Labelled Love.

Photo & Editing: Ralph Wietek

A Borrowed Life

Have you ever seen a musician playing their instrument?
Say, a violinist playing so passionately that not only the music itself, but his facial expression and the passion expressed through his body moves you, touches you?
Well, I have seen many people, many different people in passionate moments. I saw musicians playing, dancers practicing their choreographies, I saw people kissing, crying, smiling through the tears. I saw you. In a restaurant. With her. Talking. Cards on the table. Within this heartfelt drama your passion took over and you reached for her neck while she was talking and you kissed her. Passionately.
And I have seen her. Sitting at her desk, her laptop in front of her. She started writing and suddenly the keyboard became a piano, her head slightly tilting to the left, a facial expression between passion and pain. The corner of her mouth forming a little smile, yet her eyes filled with tears, her hands gently moving across the keyboard, the laptop becoming an instrument, her hands forming a melancholic melody on paper:

I have been living a borrowed life. My life has never been my own. It was always about other people’s happiness. Never about my own.
I always thought that once somebody liked or loved me, I’d have to like or love them back. Because I knew how it felt to be unhappy in love and so I wanted to avoid doing the same thing to them as was done to me. So, I convinced myself to like them, to love them. And yes, you can convince yourself to have certain emotions until you nearly believe them yourself. But there will always remain this little spark, this little part inside of you that knows that it is not completely right, not fully correct, that it is not as authentic as it could have been if it were real.
I have been so many different people in my life. That’s why I am a good, maybe even a great actress.
It was never about me, it was about the others, so I slipped into the roles that contributed to their happiness. And they believed me. Because I believed myself.
But the truth sneaks up behind you and gets you in retrospect. And then you discover that the truth does not lie in retrospect, but that you already knew when you were in that particular situation. But you convinced yourself to believe differently.
And then you discover: I have been living a borrowed life. A life that has never been my own.
You turn around and you oppose yourself by saying: My life has always been my own. But I got lost along the road I went.
And then you doubt, and then you get desperate and then you lift your tear filled eyes to the sky above and you revolt and you rebel. And you promise yourself to go and get your life back, to not back down, to fight for your life and to become better than you were before.
But then there are these silent moments. These moments where you have a lump in your throat and you look into the mirror and your gleaming eyes show desperation while your lips form a smile and you say: If this is what I am meant to be, if this is why I am here on earth, to contribute to the happiness of others and putting my own aside, I will pay the price. I will live a borrowed life in order to fulfil my destiny. If this is what it is, then let it be so. But I will reserve some parts for myself, some secrecy. But other than that, it’s alright, if this is what I am really here for.
And you know that the only issue with these thoughts is, that you just don’t know.
You just know, whatever path it is that you have to take, you are going to take it, make it, be it borrowed, be it your own, you’re not going to bend over or back down. You’re going to slip into another role that somebody else or life itself wrote for you and you’re going to go with it.
I am not going to say that one day I will have to set you free. Because you were never caged. But one day I might have to let you go. And I will. Because this is love. And love is the only truth I know. The only truth that cannot be concealed with make-up or by imposing a role on it. This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t fight. And it doesn’t mean that I would resign over it. This just means, that besides all the roles I played, all the lives I lived and all the contributions I made, this will be a moment when I stick to the very truth that lies deep inside our hearts.
I’ve been so many different people in my life.
But once you set me free, or rather you helped me to set myself free, for once. For once, there was no script. For once, it was about me. And I appreciate that. I will always keep that beside the truth that is inscribed onto my heart.
This little spark of truth that once was revealed to me shall accompany me on my way.
For once, I lived my life. For once, it was mine.
For once, there was you.
I have been so many different people in my life.
I lived.
A borrowed life.

Gina Laventura © 2014

How to stay creative Tipp #2

Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar


Sit down in a café and observe the surrounding and the people!

I don’t necessarily mean meet your friends in a café, but I mean, really take a little time for yourself and sit down in a café on your own, order your favourite drink and maybe a piece of cake and just observe.
Let the surrounding unfold its various impressions and take a look at the people.
What a friend and I did quite a long time ago was this: We sat down in a café together (it was summer, so we could sit outside, but it also works when you sit inside and can look outside) The pedestrians passing by inspired us and when for instance a couple packed with bags and upset facial expressions came along, one of us said “Okay, I’m the man, you take the woman!” and we began to synchronise them. The funniest and absurdest dialogues emerged. They must have been far away from what the people actually thought or said, but it was a nice amusement. (that I’d like to do again one day)
The basic principle of this procedure must be the same as the one underlying improvisational theatre, because you have to include all movements and facial expressions and plot-twists. But it also works without a second person in whose company you can develop such conversations.
But to think about what the people might think, what they are doing at that moment, where they come from, where they are going, can be the basis for a good story. As well as the surrounding can support the atmosphere.
Especially now in the hectic of the advent season, while oneself is seated comfortably in a café, you can find sources of inspiration. It also works in the summer, seating yourself with a blanket in a park. It doesn’t have to be a café, of course not.
Once I strolled through a park and I took a small break on a bench and observed my surrounding. I saw a man on a bike, who had one child seated in front of him and the other on the back of the bike, a couple in their forties, freshly in love, a young couple having a dispute in a foreign language, leaning against a tree there was a dark haired young man who looked over to his girlfriend wearing a yellow headscarf with a loving glance while she was typing an sms before she turned to him again, a granny with her grandchildren taking a walk, an English speaking, pregnant woman with her little daughter who was excited and looked around until she made her daddy out in the mass of people and started running towards him, screaming a stretched “Daddy” and he took her up on his strong arms. All this is the basis for stories, or can be. Especially when you consider similarities, differences and common features. Because all I was able to see was love. No matter in which shape, those people looked differently, belonged to different age groups, had different origins and their relation to one another was different, but they had one thing in common: the underlying shared emotional connection.
If that’s not a basis for a story!
And even if you sit down somewhere with someone else and you observe the same things, your perceptions will differ and so will the stories that you write later on.
And this is what makes it so exciting and inspirational.
I can only recommend you try it out, even if you don’t write stories but you chase another creative destination, be it painting or drawing or music or photography, writing short stories, poems, books, tv formats, short films, movies or something else that didn’t cross my mind right now, I think it’s a wonderful method to keep moving and to stay creative.
Be creative. Be yourself.

#tbt: Winchester – Now and Then –

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#tbt: November 2014

Two years ago I’ve spent a semester abroad in England. In Winchester to be precise.
Before coming to the main topic, the short comeback to Winchester this year, I think I have to take a detour and start from the beginning.
3 months England. 3 months Winchester. “3 months holiday”, some people think. Haha, no. 12 weeks preparing courses and assignments, working on the mid-term assignments, the mark of which contributed to the final mark. Furthermore, one had to adjust to the different “system” as even essays are structured differently there.
3 months full of interesting courses and I had the luck of meeting amazing lecturers who were truly inspiring, not only concerning the content of their courses but also concerning their method of teaching. Moreover, I had a course about the short story and that was when the prose line of my writing started.
3 months of meeting new acquaintances, but moreover, making new friends. Friends who I still keep in contact with and in whose lives I still can – due to modern communication channels – participate at least a bit.
3 months I like to remind myself of. Not because everything was peace, love and harmony in a sea of milk and honey. It was a nerve-stretching time and a lot was moving and changing and it continued when I came back home. But maybe that’s the reason why I like to remember this time. Because it was milk and honey in sleepless nights and cake combined with contemplative days.
3 months, I wouldn’t want to miss.

Interim: I came back home. The first thing I did? Taking everything out of each and every single cupboard, shelf and other storage possibility I own and sort it out. Outside the box so to speak. Making room for air to breath. Meeting friends. The friendship to my beloved people intensified and we grew closer to each other than we were before. And I’m thankful for that.
Uni. Work. Creative stuff. Inhale, taking a run-up and run. Making up time. Tearing forward in order to hopefully get where you want to get.

Fast Forward: 2014.
Finally there was the possibility of visiting Winchester again. Even if just for four days.
After the bus that started at Heathrow spit us all out at the King Alfred Statue and I was able to inhale deeply, I had to smile. The sleep deprivation and the inconvenience of travel (and yes, it is an inconvenience to ride on a bus for one hour when it smells as if a complete fish market decided to lock itself up in there), was irrelevant. Washed away. I was there.
Besides the fact that in most cases when you travel and you are “away” the atmosphere is different, England always had something special about it for me.
When saying “away” we mostly mean being “away from everyday life”, away from routine, from constant repetition. Taking a break from the meritocratic and hectic society in whose wheel we run every day just to fall out of it at the end of the day, crawling into bed and falling asleep with the feeling that we haven’t achieved enough.
At least this is how you can feel from time to time. We’re just talking about a feeling, not about it being an actual fact. And whether this is optimal or not we don’t want to discuss now, either.
But here’s the main point: I often tried to analyse why I felt so comfortable in Winchester, in England. (So comfortable, that it’s always hard for me to leave again.) Is it because of all the memories I harbour? Because of the fact that I always connect it to an aha-moment and a moving time? I really tried to analyse it over and over and over again. Do I idealise and if I’d be there for a longer time, everything would be as much routine as here, as stuck, as hectic, just the same?
For now, and I say for now, the diagnosis of my analysis is this: I personally perceive the mentality there as different. The people there also have a job, a house to clean, hobbies, friends, families, obligations, ambitions and goals. But somehow they still manage to meet their friends once a week for a pint and a round of pool in a pub or to have dinner together and talk. Without watching the clock all the time, without getting nervous and making the impression as if the length of their to-do-list just doubled because of this enjoyable time.
It’s this having time, or maybe taking time for things that make you happy. And still managing to get everything else done. But the people seem more relaxed about it. I say seem, because it is my personal opinion, my personal impression. If you want to agree, you can agree, if you can’t agree, then you don’t agree with me, that’s ok. As said, I’m talking about a feeling, not necessarily of a fact that can be proved.

I was asked “Is Winchester still the same as when you left?”
 Well, yes and no.
 Of course, the air is the same, the city didn’t change too much, although there are some new shops and some building sites. But of course, things changed, we changed. It’s been two years now and it would have been a shame if everything was still the same, wouldn’t it? We all progress and proceed with our lives and that is good, we grow and develop.
But what I can say is this: It was an absolutely amazing feeling to meet again after such a time span and seeing old friends again, catching up, sitting in a pub and talking as if two years had been nothing at all.

And no, to say “just take this relaxed attitude and atmosphere and apply it when you’re back home” and believing that this is as easy as it sounds, is just wrong.
But it’s worth a try.

#tbt: Commitment and Confession

#tbt; a poem from 2013

We say it too often, we say it too less
we often commit, but never confess,
we think it right, but discover it wrong,
we’re fragile, but we pretend we’re strong
and strong we are indeed
but too proud to say when we’re in need,
too shy, too insecure,
waiting for someone to cure
What’s all this fuss
We scream, we shout
but never let it all out,
we hide away
and never say
what’s ought to be said,
whole life a gambling bet,
pointing our fingers at sins and sinners,
just wondering who’ll be the winner,
but guess what: There’s no one to win and no one to lose,
it’s all about which step you choose.
With every loss you gain something
and probably you lose something each and every time you win.
This is life, it goes up and down,
don’t complain and don’t you frown
at least not too often
cause after every storm the wind will soften
the waves.
We’re stuck in a pace
that’s out of the rhythm, out of the beat,
we ignore the achievements but we see the defeat.
What’s wrong with this world, we are all one
and we should do what needs to be done
to make it a better place,
get out of that unhealthy pace.
Take a look around yourself
and dare to tell
that it’s not beautiful, dare to find an excuse, another one
to explain why things can’t be done.
Don’t you dare to tell
that your life does not deserve the best version of yourself.
We complain too often, we do too less,
we often commit, but never confess.

Gina Laventura © 2013

#tbt: Quoteworthy


Throwback Thursday to when I was quoted. With a little addition to the original at the end.

You know, since I was 14 or so, I’ve been collecting. Everybody was collecting something back in those days. Be it little porcelain animals, candles, dried flowers, whatever it was, everybody had another obsession for collecting one thing or the other.
I started collecting quotes. Wrote them down in different colours in my little notebook.
Quotes from Nietzsche, Woolf, Wild, Cleopatra, anonymous people and sometimes even some smart remarks made by people that were close to me.
Often because they had a deeper level of meaning, but sometimes because I had the slight feeling that they might be exactly what I need in the future. In a desperate moment or a moment when I was searching for an answer to a particular question.
I dare say I was a good and passionate collector for some years, I could quote by heart and tell precisely who uttered it. For every occasion a quote would slip from my lips. For my birthday and other occasions I would get cards with quotes on it, so that I could pin them on my wall. My walls were selectively decorated with quote cards.
I had started writing poetry way before I became a quote collector.
Never did I really assume that one day one of my remarks or lines from my written works would become quote worthy or actually be quoted. (Until that one time where a fellow pupil stole one of my lines and pretended it was her’s, as everybody knew she was writing as well)

Fast forward: 2015.
Last year I published my first book.
And I got some feedback on it. And on some lines that are considered memorable.
Like “Love becomes a lost lullaby when we label it like lipstick.”

And then there is today.
Taking a break from working. Scrolling through my WhatsApp contacts (yes you only do that in breaks, out of boredom, curiosity or the itch of stalking someone, I know).
Out of a sudden I stopped.
There I saw it. As an away status.
A line oh so familiar to me.
“The heart’s a stranger we once knew.”
From my story Reflection. (reposted below)

I feel genuinely honoured and pleased.
These are no lines I picked up somewhere else. They are not the quote of a quote.
These are the words that fled from the inspirational spark in my mind through my body, through my fingertips onto the page.
And it made me smile to see these words, this line standing there.
Why? Because it means that those words mean something to someone. That they give something to someone.

And that is what I’m writing for.

Addition: I want to be honest with you. The true story went like this: I saw this quote. And I got angry. Why? Because it wasn’t really a quote. And as I’ve learned from Austin Kleon, whose works I will recommend tomorrow, “Quote correctly or don’t quote at all”. Okay, I’m not that strict, if you don’t know who said it but you love the quote and you can’t find out via google or other search options who said it, then I’m perfectly fine if you still share the quote you love. Only point is this: Please, please, please mark it as a quote! How? Use quotation marks! Just to indicate that this formation of words is not your intellectual property, that it doesn’t stem from your own mind. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t resonate with you, it’s still something that you shared. Nothing is taken away from you if you use these tiny quotation marks, I mean, come on, artists produce art and they share it, so of course it is an absolute joy if they see that their work resonates with the people, but if you don’t indicate that it is a quote (or name the origin of it if you know it) then it makes the impression of pretence, of stealing, of pretending that it was you who created it. Is that fair to the artist? Is that fair to all the sweat, blood and tears they’ve put into the creation of the work?
I don’t even ask for naming me. I just ask for two tiny “”.
So, you might wonder, if I got this angry with the quote which wasn’t indicated as one, why did I write such a positive post about it?
The answer is quite simple: Because I didn’t want this negativity to get hold of me. Every energy is energy, whether it is positive or negative. And we can transform it. It’s up to us what we make out of it. And that time I decided to transform the negative energy into positive energy.
So the original post was absolutely honest, so is this addition to it. Not because I decided to blame the person who didn’t quote correctly later on after having thought about it, absolutely not. I still stand to what I said in my original post, it is an honour and a pleasure to be quoted and it means a lot to me if something, be it a small piece of a sentence of one of my works, resonates with you and gives something to you, and yes, this is definitely a part of what I’m writing for, I want to give (back), but I decided to write this addition in order to urge you to quote correctly or at least to use quotation marks. Just to be fair with the artist, the creator.