Freitag, Januar 30, 2009

Jackie's Question

This is an answer to the question my faithful friend Jackie asked in her comment to Backstage:

"Are you able to write ANYTHING?! I mean, as long as you get the documents and details, would you be able to write about any topic/issue/subject even if it's about - let's say - cell biology, automation engineering or computer science? Is it only that those people just need someone who writes the TEXT itself without really having knowledge of the stuff they have to write or do you need to actually understand that stuff? (Well at least in my imagination I think that I would need to understand it....)"

Good question.

Yes, of course I have to understand what I write about, otherwise the result would surely become an utter disgrace for me and, worse, my client. And of course there are many topics I could not write about, without putting in a lot of time and effort for reading, learning and understanding in the first place. Automation engineering and computer science are among them; cell biology isn't, because I actually studied biology at university.

Whatever subject I tackle, I need to feel comfortable with it first. So I usually spend some time with research and reading before I start on a project. Maybe there are subjects (like computer science) where I would have to invest so much time and effort in learning about them, that I could not make a profit from them anymore, so I would have to refuse them for practical reasons. But theoretically (although this sounds terribly arrogant), yes, I could write anything - given enough time for research and preparation.

You see, I love to learn and to be challenged. I love my job because of the diversity of subjects I read, research and work about. In my 16 years of experience I have already written or made documentaries about quite a variety of topics. Documentaries usually include some travelling and many of them gave me access to unusual places. I have been to arctic islands, primeval forests and archeological digs, inside steel works and power houses, government departments, psychiatric wards and university labs, at factories, farms and feature film shoots, on glaciers and mountaintops and on fishing trawlers.

I have written about a lot of subjects including energy policy, quantum physics, bollywood films, waste disposal, earthquakes, allergies, migratory birds, climate change, compulsive gambling, immigrants, genetic engineering, pedagogics and education, and many kinds of environmental and natural history subjects, often with a focus on fascinating animals like whales and polar bears.
That is why I think there is no limit to possible subjects.

On the downside: My friends refuse to play quiz games or scrabble with me anymore. I have won too often.

Mittwoch, Januar 28, 2009

On Top

Earlier today I wrote a lot about writing, but nothing about moving. This is a picture of the view (well, part of the view) from the place that will soon be mine. Yay!

(Please click on it if you want to see the real thing.)


The book is finished; the book that I have just written. It is a nonfiction book about children's disorders - you know, all that attention deficit and hyperactivity stuff which is worrying more and more parents around the globe (and increases the production of pills that keep kids calm and parents happy). The book will be published in a few months, under the name of a professor of educational science. I was only her ghostwriter. I have done this kind of job before, mostly with articles and once with another nonfiction book.

In this case it is okay, because I didn't do much research for the book; I got some (very) detailed and scientific thesis and dissertation papers to work with, so my job was more like a translation from scientific lingo to everyday language, plus quite a lot of editing. And of course translators and editors don't appear on the cover of a book.

It is a simple deal: The professor gets the credits, I get the money. It is only fair, but still, that kind of arrangement is not always easy for my ego to digest. I was a lot more ambitious when I started being a writer, journalist and filmmaker all those years ago. I wanted to make a name for myself. I had dreamed of being a writer since I was a child. The first time when I sold my writing skills to someone else, it felt like a betrayal of everything I had hoped for. I wanted to be recognized, not to be some part of the service industry.

Maybe it is a lesson in humility I really need to learn. Without giving up hope that I will be the one on stage again, some day.

Freitag, Januar 23, 2009

Time flies...

God, it's been months since I felt like writing anything here.

It's not exactly an exciting life I am leading these days, and I long for a chance - any chance - to make films again. But even documentaries cost money, and finding someone willing to pay for a docu seems to get more difficult all the time.
So I am mostly earning my money by writing now. Ghostwriting even. Some people have to write books or articles without having enough time (or skill *g*) for that task, so they pay someone else to write their stuff for them.

That's what I do (in my own language of course, not in English), and it's slowly driving me nuts. Not the writing as such - I love writing - but the fact that it's such a lonely profession. I really, really miss the travelling and the teamwork, the thrill and the stress of making films.

But I found a new apartment, to which I will move in a month or so. It is bigger than my current one, with more space for guests, and with a rooftop terrace overlooking most of the city I live in. A whole landscape of roofs, spires and faraway hills will be surrounding me there.

Now I dread the packing and moving, but I am already looking forward to spring, sunshine and dinners with friends on my new roof. It will be perfect (I hope).

Lets see what else this year will bring...