Tag Archives: Job and career

Goodbye Berlin, Hello Rasquera

How to turn a Drama into a Romantic Comedy.

by Andree Bock

Not in the picture: The silence

Greetings from Rasquera!

Never heard of it?

Good. That’s why I am here.

Rasquera is a quiet village in the Catalunyan Countryside. 775 people live here and since two weeks I am one of them.

But this story starts almost two years earlier in Berlin.

I lived there for the last five years or so, working as a copywriter in advertising. I worked a lot and wasn’t too bad at it. My agency promoted me to Creative Director. They wanted to announce it two weeks later during a big event.

A week later I quit my job.

Some call it burn-out syndrome.
I call it the best thing that could happen to me at the time.

I was completely exhausted.

I quit the agency very soon after that, fighting my way out. I earned my money as a freelance copywriter. When I had enough money for the month I stopped working. Often I stopped earlier.

I found out a few things about myself. I don’t want to work in advertising anymore, for example. Hey, great. Then again, stupid, did you learn anything else apart from working night-shifts in advertising agencies?

At this point, let me tell you a secret about advertising: Every creative sees himself as an artist. A copywriter secretly sees himself as the coming bestseller author, an Art Director is the next big thing in painting. The list is long. Thing is, we are not in art, we are in advertising. We make money, not art. And we have got a lot of good excuses not to do our exhibition or write our bestseller.

One day I ran out of excuses.

I found an author who took me under his wing: I am receiving a two-year coaching. In the first year I learned certain techniques of writing. How to build up suspension for example. Or how to characterize people. A lot of theory. More reading. And even more writing. The second year of our cooperation is dedicated to writing my first book. That year started a few weeks ago and I am happy to have found my story during the first year so I could do a lot of research before I came here and know the story about 95%.

It’s a story that plays in the 17th and 18th century. It’s the rise and fall of a kid who grows up under poor conditions in Berlin. German Aufklaerung, Napoleon conquering Berlin in 1806, that kind of stuff.

Funny enough, before I got into advertising (at the age of 23), I studied German literature and history. I always joke when someone asks me if I am just continuing my studies now. I am a student of 37 years – and hopefully will still be a student the day I die.

So why Rasquera, that tiny little village in the middle of nowhere? Three reasons:

1. I am weak. I have to protect my writing from big city distractions. Some might say my commitment isn’t strong enough to keep me in Berlin, doing the job. I say my commitment is strong enough to bring me here do the job.

2. One of my best friends lives here, so I won’t be completely alone and shut off.

3. I love it here. I love the rough and beautiful countryside that brought up those rough and beautiful people with their rough and beautiful language and habits and regional pride and…need more? Come here.

So I left my expensive apartment in Berlin Mitte and put what I haven’t sold in a small shared flat in Kreuzberg. I can go there any time I want and get back to big city life (and answer my letters, because the only post that I let come here is the Kicker, a German football magazine). This place in Catalunya is dedicated to the writing, not to bills and tax declarations. I can deal with them properly in Berlin.

With the money I saved I rented a town house here in Rasquera that comes with furniture. Today, 8th of December, I spent two hours on the terrace in the sun, reading.

The lady from THE bakery is very nice (THE bakery because there is only one. They sell baguette in THE supermarket but they themselves buy it from THE bakery). So I chat almost every day with the lady and one day I told her what I am doing here (people are curious in the village, like in every place) and she said that it sounds to her like what she does see in Hollywood productions. The writer on the hill, a cliché de luxe!

(What is missing here to make it a Romantic Comedy is, of course, the stubborn housekeeping woman whose language I don’t speak and she doesn’t speak mine and she messes up my old bachelor life up in a nice way and after a lot of irritations and mix-ups we end up falling in love with each other and when they haven’t died they….)

I prefer to think that I’m just living my dream.

By the end of 2011 they will present my book at the book fair in Germany. I put all my commitment in that goal.

So, see you on the fair!

Yours,

Andree

P.S.: By the time I had the guts to relocate myself, touch my assets of the last resort and write the book, guess what happened? I won my first own client. It’s a big construction company that needs a lot of brochures and catalogues and much more. The marketing director doesn’t care where I am located as long as the texts are good.

P.P.S.: It’s advertising. I love it. It pays my rent.

P.P.P.S.: Stubborn housekeeping ladies whose language I don’t speak and who want to mess up my life in a nice way – you’ll find me in Rasquera.

P.P.P.P.S.: Hell, I shouldn’t be that square headed: Any stubborn housekeeping who wants to mess up my life in a….you probably know by now, don’t you?

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About Andree Bock:

When Andree is not living in Berlin, he is living in a small village in the countryside of Catalunya. He is an author and freelance copywriter in advertising and is currently writing his first novel.

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Meet Daniel Jennewein

An up-and-coming illustrator of childrens’ books, Daniel Jennewein is certainly doing something different than most. He is living his dream. In this post, he shares the story of his career move from graphic designer to book illustrator. We are thrilled that he is the first person to be featured in our DSD (doing something different) career series.

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Daniel’s Daily Drawings

I could say it all started with my blog danielsdailydrawings.blogspot.com.

Illustration 531I’d been a web designer since 1999, a job I enjoyed at times but mainly had so I could pay the bills. In the beginning I learned a lot, which was fulfilling enough, but as time went by and I realized I spent more time doing than learning, I started to feel bored.

In order to exercise my mind, I began experimenting with personal side projects.  The first task was a childrens’ book that I planned to develop with my wife Lenore, who is a copywriter. It didn’t take us long to notice that it was a difficult thing to do and that it required a lot of energy – energy which is difficult to unleash while working full-time. After a long time period of working nights and weekends on our book, we finally had a dummy and sent it out for critique.  The feedback made us realize we’d need to dedicate more time to it, and we put it on hold indefinitely.

From this experience I learned that I shouldn’t put more on my plate than I can handle and looked for a personal project that I could tackle while having a demanding full-time job.  It had to be a project that wouldn’t require me to take off work for days or weeks to get the job done but rather short, regular sessions – i.e. something I could do in the evenings after work even when I was very tired.

Illustration 682Many designers and artists keep sketchbooks, but I thought this might not have enough structure to keep me drawing often, which is how the idea for my blog was born. The title Daniel’s Daily Drawings already forces me to publish a drawing a day. However it doesn’t place restrictions on how rough, how funny how  good or how bad a drawing has to be. Here I have all the freedom in the world to draw whatever I feel like but I am also obliged to follow a strict routine.

In May 2007 I visited the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna and had the opportunity to show my work to Art Directors from renowned publishing houses. At that time, I already had quite a few drawings up on my blog and chose the 3 best ones to show. To my surprise, my drawings were highly praised and I ended up with a two book illustration contracts with HarperCollins. This experience gave me the confidence I needed to embark on my new career path as a freelance illustrator.  I doubt I would have dared to take this radical step without having had this encouraging experience.

Sometimes we just need little pushes and kicks to follow our true destinies.

Daniel

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Daniel JenneweinAbout me

My Name is Daniel Jennewein.  I live in Frankfurt with my wife Lenore and 2 very spoiled Birman cats. My first picture book (written by Audrey Vernick) “Is Your Buffalo Ready For Kindergarten?” will be released in summer 2010. In addition to drawing, I love to travel and hang out with inspiring people like Shailia.

The true story of red pants

her / Sleepwear / Paul Frank / Product ID: 239050I used to have a pair of fire-engine red sweat pants. I “borrowed” them from my high-school sweetheart when I was fifteen. They already had a hole on one thigh. In college, they became my go-to pants for lounging around the dorm. They kept me mostly warm (except for the hole) on the last cold days of the soccer season. At seventeen, I wore them every day during mid-terms and finals, expertly combining them with a star-studded hair ribbon and a baggy red Pelé T-Shirt which proclaimed “No fear!”.

My future mother-in-law was appalled the first time she saw me in them. It was my first Christmas morning in Germany and my red pants were not her idea of a proper wardrobe. But I was twenty-one and they were Hanes heavy duty, so I wasn’t about to toss them because of a few more holes. At twenty-two I hadn’t learned much. I wore them to work on a whim. My then boss called me into his office and kindly asked me not to show up for work in holy pants. This time, I was appalled – and humiliated.

By twenty-five I realized that I and my pants had grown apart. I packed them away and as soon as the chance presented itself, I bought some new red pants. Brick-red, flannel, boys’ boxers with little penguins from the GAP. Two sizes too big, they were a no-pinch fit made in heaven. I loved them! Since I had learned from the past, I only wore them at home. Seems the older we get, the more we tend to hide our favorite items of clothing from public scrutiny.

But even at home, one is not entirely safe. At twenty-eight a guy friend who was staying with us for a week asked me why I was wearing those red boxers everyday. And at thirty-two, again it was my mother-in-law who happened to notice them in the clean laundry pile. She couldn’t believe I was still wearing red pants with holes. I thought they had held up pretty good considering how many time I had washed them in seven years. She thought I should throw them away immediately.

Next month I’ll be turning thirty-five and I still have my red pants. When my husband heard I was going to write about them, he practically begged me not to post a picture, stating possible career damage and personal embarrassment. He is probably right. They are so old and tattered that they are hardly recognizable anyway.

In life, we wear a lot of things that don’t fit to our current selves. Things we got from others. Things that are too big or too small. Things that are used-up. Things that got us through important times and critical situations. Things that gave us comfort and made us feel at home. It is good to honor these things (ways of acting, feeling, being) and to hold them lovingly in memory, but it is also good to let them go – when it is time.

Today I am putting away my second pair of red pants. I am sad in a way, but I can hardly wait to see what I will find to replace them. Something more me – for now. Something new and hopefully red – but maybe not.

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What are the red pants in your private life and in your job?

Have a look at the excersise I have attached to this post. I designed it to help my coaching clients reflect on their personal “wardrobe”. And it may give you some insight on what to keep, what to put away and what to delegate in your life.

The Role Wardrobe

The Role Wardrobe Grid

Until we meet,
Shailia

Acknowledgements: “The Role Wardrobe Grid” is roughly based on the “Roll compass” by Dr. Thomas Bachmann.