#MonologueMonday

A new episode of the Attic Monologues is online!

Why “it’s okay” is not always the most adequate answer and why there is no obligation to accept an apology…

Let me know your thoughts on this, I’m curious 🙂 (she says while sipping coffee)

xxx

#MonologueMonday

The second episode of the Attic Monologues is online now.

Yes, it’s not Monday anymore (but the videos went online yesterday), but here is another special: Until the 22nd April there is a 20% discount in my SpreadShop! Still 25% of my earnings will be donated to local mental health institutions.

Sharing is caring and shared joy is doubled joy and as it was my birthday yesterday, I hope you enjoy the contents and discount I’m sharing with you 🙂

About windows that need to be cleaned and taking back agency in your communication.

#socialsaturday: Superficial Society

Auf Deutsch lesen

#socialsaturday: Superficial Society

Hey my dears,

actually the first idea for a title was “why do we desire that people desire what we desire?”, but then I thought it might be too long. And maybe too confusing.
But seriously, why do we do that?
Okay, okay, I see, I need to put some structure in here, otherwise we will get lost in a hundred topics.
So, give me a sec. And a sip of coffee.

Okay, back to the topic.
What distinguishes us as humans from animals?
I mean despite regular hair cuts, clothes and make-up and hot baths instead of licking ourselves clean like a cat.
Well, philosophers would say reason and language. Homo logos, you know. Which also implies a correlation between language and divine logic or sense.
Can we just wait here a second.
Reason. Well, I don’t know about you, but recently I’ve seen people doing more things that – at least for me – don’t fall under the category of reasonable than I could put in one blog post without boring you.
I mean, take simple things like throwing trash onto the street while walking when the bin is just 2 freaking meters away from you. Does that sound reasonable?
Or pushing your pram into the bus in such a way that no one can get from the front to the end while the bus driver is yelling that everybody should move further to the back and then you shout at the people who kindly ask you if there was a chance they might pass by. Does that sound reasonable?
Other way round, going to the gym to train your biceps so that every girl would fall for your trained body straight away and wants to touch it, but then being at the train station and watching a mother with a toddler and a pram and not helping her get that pretty heavy thing up the stairs, does that sound reasonable?
I think you get what I’m aiming at, but believe me, there are hundreds of millions of examples where I think doubting reason within people is kind of a daily sport.
(Btw: this doesn’t exclude myself, countless times that I kind of watch myself and then wonder “Well, Gina, was that reasonable? Is there any logical thinking left in your head or is it just on top of your neck to look good on a portrait, sheesh, girl, get your shit together!”)

Language. First, let us ask one simple, but very important question: What’s it good for?
Is it just for me to name things and so that I can define things that pop up in my head and explain them to myself?
The keyword is communication. And this means (at least according to various sources I looked up for this post) the sending, receiving and exchanging of information (or things).
But it’s about sending and receiving. Normally this includes two or more people, doesn’t it?
(Don’t judge people, who use this human tool also to communicate with themselves, it’s just you explaining your own thoughts to yourself, which I consider pretty fine, don’t worry.)
So, why and when did communication turn into one interlocutor using the other one as a stage to put their own life narration into the spotlight?
I mean.. where is the exchange?
Believe me, my dears, I commute too often with public transport and even one time forgetting your earphones makes you notice too many things around you. But on the other hand, it’s an impulse for blog posts, huh?
So, please, play this game the next time you’re sitting somewhere and listen to people talking. And I mean, for a while.
Can you find exchange? Like real exchange? Or is it rather everybody just talking about themselves and then it’s the other one’s turn?
Just observe.

Now for the desire part.
Reason and language flow into it, if you are wondering now why I talked about that before.
So, let’s take some pretty common conversation, okay?

Situation 1: Two people graduated from high school.
A: And what are you going to study?
B: I’m not going to study.
A: What?!
B: I want to do an apprenticeship.
A: Ah.

Situation 2: A student (B) living from a part-time job and a credit and someone being at the end of their apprenticeship (A) and already earning “real” money are talking.
A: And when are you going to move out from your parents’ house?
B: Well, actually I’m aiming for higher education and want to do another degree once I finished the first one.
A: So, you don’t want to move out until you’re what? 28?

Situation 3: An engaged or married woman in the process of family planning (A) and a woman focussed on her career (B) are talking.
A: And when are you going to marry?
B: Hm?
A: When are you going to marry and have children?
B: Um, dunno?!
A: Well, darling, we all don’t get younger, do we?

Why is it that we seem to desire that other people desire what we desire?
And this assumption wouldn’t even be the worst thing. The worst thing is the next step that oh so frequently follows:
Judgement.
As if our life narration was the only valid one.

If your greatest desire is to study and you have the privilege of getting a chance to do it, then value it!
There are people who would love to, but that don’t have access to education, let alone higher education.
And if your friend decides that studying isn’t their cup of tea, then congratulate them on their choice and wish them all the best.

If what you define as a desirable life includes moving out as early as possible and having a space of your own and you get the chance to get it, value it!
Maybe your studying friend would love to have a place of their own, too, but they had to decide about their priorities: flat or next degree.
Who are you to tell them they made the wrong choice just because your choice would have been different?

If your vision of a desirable life necessarily includes getting married and having children, and you found the right partner and you were physically able to give birth to healthy children, then guess what, value it!
And if you found fulfilment in that and you think “wow, now I truly know what I’m here for!” than that’s great. But who are you to tell another woman that unless she has children she doesn’t know her purpose here on earth? Isn’t that a bit harsh?
And even if she doesn’t want to, or didn’t find the person with whom she’d love to, who are you to judge someone else’s priority list?

Let me tell you something:
We will all be judged one day. But that’s not our job, believe me.
Who are we to tell other people which desire and life narration is valid and which is not?
And when did we get so presumptuous and arrogant to assume that our choices are the only right ones?
When did we forget to stay open and listen and see the world from different angles?
When did we forget to communicate?

And now for reasonable communication:
Why don’t we listen? Why do we act our lives out on a virtual and now even analogue stage as if it was the best play ever written and any other narration was invalid and less worthy?
Can we maybe change the narration?

How about

Situation 1
A: Are you going to study or do you want to do an apprenticeship?

Situation 2:
A: What are your plans and desires for the future?

Situation 3:
A: Do you want to marry and have children one day?

On a grammatical level, most yes-or-no-questions or questions without suggesting an answer, offer more space for real communication.
Be open, be interested, listen. And for the sake of an open and less superficial society: Don’t judge!
Please.

Can we maybe start asking really cool and interesting questions again?
Like
How are you?
What makes you happy?
What’s your favourite dish?

I could go on writing about this subject, but I’ll leave it at that. For now.
As always, feel free to comment here, share your opinion with me via email or Facebook or Instagram.

So long, my dears.

xxx
Gina.

#writerswednesday: Tips for Creativity & Inspiration

#writerswednesday: tips for creativity & inspiration

As there are many creatives out there in different fields, be it photography, film making, writing, singing, acting, modelling, dancing, painting, whatever, I realised that often they are confronted with the same or similar problems.
Some of them being in the direction of the following:

* I’m not in the mood, I don’t know where to go with my art, it feels useless what I’m doing
* I have the feeling that I’m just repeating and reproducing what I’ve already done
* I have too many ideas and my mind is all over the place so that I feel like getting actually nothing done

These and similar thoughts I myself have encountered, but I also heard them quite frequently from other creatives, as by now I know quite many of them.
That’s why I’d like to share some advice with you. And this is not just for writers or photographers or other creatives.
Creative comes from create and therefore, any task that creates something can be seen as a creative task.
Be it gardening, redecorating your home or something else.
To cope with all these negative, limiting and blocking thoughts, I’m gonna share some tips with you that helped me all along the way of my creative path.

1. Take a break, have a coffee*. Consume art.

* can be substituted by anything you like, tea, whiskey, chocolate, cake…

When you feel like not being in the mood, like having all these ideas in your mind but they don’t mould into the next great piece of art, leave it. Let it take a rest. Don’t let inspiration run away, but give it a little time.
If you feel like being really blocked from it, it can also help to consume a lot of art to get into your own flow again.
As a writer, read. And read a lot.
As a photographer or model, watch a lot of pictures, follow other models/photographers and get your inspo board refreshed.
As a film maker, watch a lot of movies.
As a cook, read recipes, watch cooking shows or youtube videos.
The list could go on like that now, but I think you already got it.
This is not to say consume a lot in order to copy, but in order to get your inspiration back on track.

2. Sit down. Turn your phone off. Produce.

When your mind is so overflowing with ideas that you’re loosing track and you always think “I don’t know where to start.” this is gonna be lethal to your inspirational flow.
Instead, sometimes, although it feels like sh*t, just take the next best thing on your list (or if you already prioritised, take the top priority), sit down and get something done. Just start.
Or if you feel totally lost, like nothing great is coming out of your mind, take one thing that has been on your to do list for a quite a while or take a small creative task and push it forward.

As Picasso said “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

So, if you’re missing inspiration, it’s not necessarily gonna come while you’re contemplating about not having inspiration, you know.
In most cases, negative thoughts create a negative environment, so why should inspiration feel invited?
Create an invitational environment for inspiration and keep on working!

3. Try something new.

If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and you’re only reproducing and repeating things that you already did and you tend to be bored by yourself and your art, just try something new.
Again, this is not to copy someone else, but if for instance you’re a writer of romantic stories and you’re completely stuck, try to write, dunno, a detective story or something from a different genre. Just to see whether you like it or not, to challenge yourself and to keep your mind in your creative field but with a different perspective.
This can also add to your own authentic voice, because maybe you find out that you actually like this genre, or parts of it or even that you don’t like it at all. It doesn’t matter. Either way it’s gonna show you something about you and your art and work.
For me, I realised that the #sundaystory helped a lot with this. It is challenging to combine the prompts to something coherent and as the mood or tone or genre is given as well, sometimes they are completely off my normal field of creative work. But I consider it exciting and really refreshing to use my skills in a different genre and to learn and grow with it.
Of course, this also works in other fields, cook something new, wear a combination of clothes that you haven’t worn before, style yourself in a manner that you’ve never styled yourself before in, take photos of things that normally don’t attract your photographic attention, etc.
Just try something new. It’s refreshing and helps you grow and learn.
About you. About your work. About your art.

4. Communicate. Meet friends. Chitchat. Share. Exchange.

One of my creeds and believes is “Inspiration through communication”.
Oftentimes while chatting with close friends, business partners and strangers, this exchange gives me impulses that hit a spot that was untouched before. And sometimes a good conversation is all you need to get you back on track again.
More often than not, when my mind is overflowing with ideas and I don’t how to prioritise them or whether they make sense or not, calling my best friend and chatting with her over a nice cup of coffee is the best thing I can do.
It’s not only her input, although it’s a beautiful input and I feel blessed to have such great friends, but it’s also that while you’re talking to someone else, you’re also talking to yourself and in that moment you shape things in a manner that you weren’t able to when everything was just in your own head.

5. Take yourself on a date.

As much as communication and conversation with people can be inspiring and give you impulses, as much is it important to take some time just for yourself. And no, darling, I don’t mean you on your own, glued to your phone, having a ton of chats open and still communicating with others.
I mean you, yourself and you again.
And when I say take yourself on a date, I really mean it.
Don’t go to the laundry service alone with a cuppa to go and call it a date, ok?
Don’t cheat!
I really mean, if you were another person taking yourself on a date, what would it look like?
Would you go to a restaurant? A cafe? To the cinema? Taking a long walk in a park?
Whatever you consider your dream date to look like, don’t wait for anyone, treat yourself to it.
Sometimes you would find me in a cafe with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, mostly with my paper notebook or my laptop or a book to read, enjoying some time alone, just doing things that I love and that inspire me.
And no, no, no, I don’t do it to have a cute picture to post on instagram.
I mean yes, you caught me, that happened too, but I don’t go there in the first place to promote and advertise dating oneself on social media, you know. If I do so, I do it because I’m in the mood.
One of the things that I also love doing is getting up early in the morning, when the streets are still quiet and drive into a city, any city that I like, and walk the streets, watching all the details of architecture for example, taking pictures of the rising sun between houses or a beautiful flower on a wall or anything that captures my attention and that I therefore want to capture too. It’s really an intensive feeling taking a walk alone and watch a city waking up.
Sometimes I also take a walk in a forest or in a park or at a sea, whatever I feel like. And yes, a lot of the times I’m talking to myself.
I mean, hey, this is a date, huh? And normally we do talk on dates, don’t we?

General advice: Disconnect.
In many cases it’s a good choice to enjoy these moments disconnected from emails, social media and chats.
This is not a necessity, but it helps you refocus on what’s important to you without comparing yourself and your art to others and their work. And this gives you more freedom in your mind to work on your very own business.
You can still share the pictures you took, the things you’ve done, the experiences you made later on, but grant yourself a little time to really feel them inside of yourself.

I hope these tips and advice gave you some impulses on how to get yourself and your creative energy flowing again.
Of course there are many more things that I could put on this list and I might make a series out of it, but right now, I don’t want to bore you until the last spark of inspirational flow ran out by reading a blog post that was waaaayyyy too long.

Plus, guess what I’m gonna do? Yup, I just heard some coffee call my name. Can you hear it, too?

Why Editors matter

Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar

IMG_2535

And with editor I mean reader, like the person who does the proofreading before something goes out into public.
Why is this work an important work?

Well, first things first.
We are social beings and our interaction with one another relies on communication, be it verbal or non-verbal. “We can not not communicate” as Paul Watzlawick said.
And of course we know that there are different purposes or intentions why we communicate, or at least this is what you’re taught when you study language and literature.
I don’t necessarily want to go into the details of Friedemann Schulz von Thun’s model of “the four sides of a message”, where he says a message has an informative content, an appeal/plea, self-revelation and says something about the relationship between the speaker and their interlocutor. If you’re interested in further details, you can check them here.
But for the sake of the argument let’s stick with this:
A message can be informative, appellative, persuasive or convincing.
So, when talking about business communication, say you want to sell a product or a service, but also in private communication, say you want to convince someone of your argument, I think we can agree that all these channels of communication have one thing in common: a purpose.
But what is this purpose?
When your message is informative, it’s the simple purpose that you want to pass this information, you want to feed us this information.
When your message is appellative, you want us to react upon that appeal, right?
When your message is persuasive or convincing, you want us to agree with you.
What all of these have in common now is not only that they have a purpose, but that they actually have the same purpose: You want to generate a RESPONSE in us.
But what happens if your communication fails?
Well, in the best case: nothing.
In the worst case you generate a response in us that is not the one you wanted, so you feed us information that we either don’t need or can’t handle or that we’re either incapable or unwilling to swallow.
Or your appeal was set out to generate a verbal (“say something!”) or a non-verbal (“do something!”) reaction in us. If your communication fails, we neither say something nor do we do something, in the best case. In the worst case we say what you don’t want to hear and we do exactly the opposite of what you were aiming at.
Or your persuasive or convincing communication fails and we disagree with you.
So, basically in all cases you’re getting a “no” where you actually wanted to get a “yes”, to keep it simple.

Well, nice talk Miss Laventura, but what does this have to do with editors?!
Editors – in the best case – are language lovers. Or at least they know their tools and how to use them. Their tools? Words.

Now, next lesson:
You might tend to think that the way we think determines the way we speak, so that our way of thinking influences our language, right?
Correct. But this works vice versa, and that is a point that many people unfortunately miss.
Let me give you some examples: The Inuit apparently have round about two hundred – 200 !!! – different words for “snow”. How many do you have? But why? Probably because their surrounding is essential for their survival and it is crucial for them to know what kind of snow there is in order to survive.
The Hopi Indians don’t use tenses as we’re used to using them. In the example given in our classes they tried to convert it into English, which ends up being a picture of a man who stands at a wall and in all cases says “He ran”. So, same position, same posture, always “he ran”. What is your natural reaction to that? Exactly, most probably “WTF? Did he run, does he run or will he run?!”, because these are the categories we distinguish time frames and time lines by, right? It just doesn’t get into our system of thinking. Because our language also had an influence and partly determined this system of thinking.
Of course there are easier and more popular examples like the fact that the English language doesn’t know a word for “Fernweh” – the longing for a far away place – or that simply spoken often there are some words that do exist in one language but bear no equivalent in another.

Back to the editors. As said before, they are language lovers or at least know how to use their tools.
And I don’t necessarily mean the manipulative and persuasive use of language that you often find in advertising, that is a topic of its own, although I’d say it plays similar keys on the piano.
But it’s about using stylistic devices (yes, the nasty ones you learned at school, alliteration, personification, etc.). For what? Yeah, now you got it, my friends: for the purpose! In order to get the message across, to generate a response (and when it comes to business or advertising, of course aiming at generating not only a response, but a specific one).
Language can resonate with us, it can move us, hurt us, maybe even heal us.

What I mean is this:
“The categorisation that takes place in emotional amorous relationships serves as a destructive force to the true meaning of the emotion itself.”

or

“Love becomes a lost lullaby when we label it like lipstick.”
Which one sticks better with you?

Why are we to blind to see
that a little poetry
moves so easy
from mouth to ear
so we listen, so we hear
with a smile or with a tear
what somebody has to tell?
That’s poetry’s magic spell.

(yes, just created that within a minute, wasn’t planned for this post, but hey, that’s life, response and stuff)

Okay, well Miss, now you have shown that an editor should know their tools, fine, but the title claims to give an answer to the question why editors matter.
You’re right, sorry, I’m drifting off sometimes, lovely topic of language, broad topic, amazing, love it.
Okay, I owe you an answer.
Look at the picture that accompanies this post. It’s German, I know.
The first one says “You will stay in our heart fo ever” and the second says something like “always loved and never forgtetn.”
Yes, exactly that was my reaction as well!
These hearts were sold before All Hallow’s Day, supposed to be stuck into graves.
Would you buy them? Would you put them onto a grave of one of your beloved ones?
Yeah, thought so.
But why is this a fail?
It’s not just the fact that there are spelling mistakes in it, but it bears a deeper level.
Let’s analyse it: You wanted to sell this product. You wanted us to buy this product. You offered a product and you wanted to generate a positive response, a “yes” in us, manifested in a non-verbal reaction by buying this product.
So, these products actually ending up in store and offered for purchase show different things:
First, apparently the person putting the letters on it didn’t check it. Apparently there was no editor who double-checked. Apparently there was no final check before you put the products into boxes and delivered them to the store.
But you know what the response is? No.
And do you know why the response is “no”?
Because the lack of proofreading, the lack of double-checking carries a message of its own.
And this message is that you don’t care.
That you don’t care about us, that you don’t care about our response because apparently you believe that we’re still going to buy it.
And you know what accompanies this “no”? Repulsion. Because deep down inside and subconsciously it shows a trace of disrespect and arrogance and maybe even a little insult to your potential customers.
This is just one example. Feel free to apply it to other fields.
If your website is full of spelling mistakes or you switch tenses or use wrong words, it always transports the impression that you don’t care about your readers/customers.
Moreover, you might give false information. And I think we can agree that there is a difference between “I’ve worked hard” and “I’ve hardly worked”, right?
And with that you work against yourself as by using wrong words or being careless about proofreading, you generate a response in us that is counter productive to your actual purpose and intention.
In the worst case, we will remember you as someone who doesn’t care and stop buying your products, stop reading your newspaper, not buy your book, not book the services offered on your website.
Nowadays the half-life period of a message is so short that it renders many people careless, because “nah, who cares, tomorrow this piece of information will be old and forgotten”, “nah, it’s alright, they’re gonna understand” is the mentality that we tend to live by.
It’s just language, right? And it’s just on a language level that you don’t care for us customers, right?
In person you care for us like a true nanny, it’s just the language level that lacks your attention, right?
It’s just language, eh?
Is it really?
Think about what we discussed beforehand, how language also reflects on our system of thinking. Therefore, it has an impact on our behaviour, doesn’t it?
Even if the argument “a careless behaviour concerning language shows careless behaviour in general” might be a bit too far fetched, it somehow does indicate it to a certain extent, doesn’t it? Deep down and subconsciously?
Don’t get me wrong, please, don’t take it as an offence.
I’m not saying that you don’t care about your readers or customers.
I’m just saying that this might be the subliminal message you’re transporting, the impression your readers/customers get.
And okay, not every reader or customer pays detailed attention to it, to some it doesn’t matter, but there might be potential readers/customers who will always stay exactly that: potential.
Because their reaction might be “if they care as much about me as they do about their grammar, I’m not gonna go there”.

And THAT, my friends, is why editors matter.
Because they can help prevent those scenarios depicted above from happening, because they know you, your message and your interlocutor and they find the right approach to the right channel to get it across, they can help you when all the other work concerning your project has rendered you stuck in a rut and you just want to get it done.
Because they are language lovers or at least they know their tools and how to use them.
Their tools? Words.

PS: Yes, I am cross with myself each and every single time I find spelling mistakes in one of my blog posts, although I don’t earn any money with my blog.
PPS: Yes, “love becomes a lost lullaby when we label it like lipstick” was taken from my book Labelled Love, although normally I find it strange when people quote their own works.
PPPS: Yes, well guessed, I am an editor 😉

Creating Controversial Content

Gina16Oct12-192
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.