Archive for the ‘Journalismus’ Category

Here is the shovel, now bury your dream

In Ehrgeiz, Journalismus on Februar 17, 2015 at 8:41 pm


A short note on self-marketing. Every freelancer and especially every journalist takes classes in self-marketing. Me too. According to whatever book or guru, the heart of self-marketing is to find out what you really really want. Deep down. (The popular book that is going around right now: Don´t be who you are, be who you want to be). Let´s say, you always wanted to combine a sushi café and a blues bar. Well, if you really really want it, you probably will be good at it. Open up a sushi blues bar, practice your two-five-ones, and let the algae roll. Or more often: write a book, write for the New Yorker, start an organic farm, start a business to replace plastic, develop an app that can tell you which plant you are looking at, advise developers of computer games on ancient Greek history, start a children’s book plus app editing firm, become a gallerist (very popular), become a yoga teacher, study at Harvard, start a vegan wellness farm (I just made that one up), spend the winter months as a renowned international journalist in Key West, be (omg) an artist.

But here is the bad part. To drag them out of fantasy land into reality it costs real money, and real time. So far, none of the above fantasies have become true, despite hard wishful thinking and even a bit of doing. Usually the self-marketing victim spends a couple of months or years on her idea. They work on their brilliant idea in their spare time. It takes up their nights, weekends, and half of their already meager income or the inheritance from their hard-working parents. The screenplay sits half-written in the drawer, or else it has already been rejected half a dozen times. Key West turns out to be a depressing place if you are not as rich as Hemingway’s wife, and the rent of the yoga studio is twice what your yoga class brings in. The book project ended up on the couch of a well-paid psychoanalyst. The truth is, some make it, most don´t. But the latter get told they have to try, and spend their money on trying. First, on those classes, then on websites, image videos, social marketing, photos, brochures, more education, elevator pitch classes, crowdsourcing strategies, networking cloths, expensive domains such as keywest-media.com. Then there’s the sun studio, permanent makeup, business cards, Christmas postcards to potential clients, haircutters, cool glasses, voice training, and advanced body language. All for nothing. My advice: be who you are, an average shmuck, and spend your time and money on something that makes more sense; a trip to the Bahamas, a comfortable bed, a voucher for a three star restaurant for your parents 60th wedding anniversary. Whatever, but stay out of lala-land.

Plus, when you wake up a sleeping dream – let’s say, to start a noncommercial podcast on public health with the intent of mobilizing people to fight against health inequality, and you work hard for it, and it fails, then disappointment sets in. Let me put that into perspective with an analogy from the medical world. You have a terrible migraine, and you take a homoeopathic pill against it. It doesn´t do anything. Now you take a couple of ibuprofen: because the first pill didn’t do a damn thing, the ibruprofen is less effective. It is all operant conditioning. And just to remind my readers: I did my PhD on that. Every treatment that raises hopes, but fails, makes it harder and harder for the next treatment to work. So be careful, be very careful with raising hopes, with experimental therapies, with dream your dream classes.

To make it short: I offer for all self-marketing-class-victims a course on “how to become who you are (mediocre like all of us but yet somehow lovable)” and stop dreaming. I promise a great side effect. Your bank account will grow, and you will have more free weekends, relaxed evenings, and less disease-inducing status/happiness/fame envy.
20.8.-21.8.2015: “Bury your dream”, weekend class with expert Fabienne Hübener, on the North Cemetery, Munich. Bring a shovel. http://www.buryyourdream.com


Photo: Jewe! / photocase.de

In the beginning was the sentence

In Journalismus, Schreiben on Januar 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm


O.k. I have a problem with first sentences. In 99.9 percent of the cases the sentence that I write down as the first sentence of my article isn’t catchy – it doesn’t jump out and grab you, the reader; in a word – it is boring. Which doesn´t mean that I didn´t spend time on it – a lot of time. The first sentence has to be written a first time. Only then is it possible to write it a second time, a third time, a fourth time… please, don´t stop. Weeks, a mountain of interviews and 100s of re-writes (only a slight exaggeration, trust me) later, the sentence sounds different, more alive.

But here comes the dramatic turning point. I spend my nights with these first sentences (instead of partying with my friends), and I finally find my masterful first sentence. Then the editor comes along. And edits. And thbbsszz – my first sentence is gone with the wind that that fucking no-talent moron passed as he deleted and rewrote my stupendous first sentence. Replaced by something that makes my toenails loose color (actually, I don’t paint my toenails, so they just turn a lighter shade of pale).  I am then compelled to send an excuse to my friends before my article gets published, explaining what´s wrong with the intro, that it’s not my fault, that I had actually had a great opening until my editor desiccated it, hoping they’ll read past that and not think I’m a mediocre hack. On second thought, I actually hope that my article will pass unnoticed. Next time I will give a shit about my first sentence. I will simply write in my own inimitable style; the first couple of sentences may be as boring as a silent scream on the radio, but then… a pyrotechnic display of ideas, poetry, content, ahh-effects, and profound knowledge will follow. I call it the turn-the-volume-down-before-the-explosion-style-intro. (In case some of my editors are reading this; I didn´t mean you!)

Foto: Maria Vaorin / photocase.com

The death sentence

In Journalismus, Schreiben on Januar 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm


Did you know I can write in the most popular language? Which is: real bad English. I´m again very close to a deadline and thus I feel the urge to blog instead of doing what is really necessary, which is to write the last sentence of my 750 word text. The problem is, I can spend as much time on the last sentence as on the whole text. Which is no good. Plus, after trying out so many endings, at the end I give up and write something totally boring and stupid. Which is no good. Here I have this piece which cost me three weeks, eight interviews, 50 bucks in books, lots of nerves and instead of ending it with tatata! Wasn´t I great, I end it with: I´m sorry, I just couldn´t come up with something more meaningful. That’s when I have this strong wish to end all my texts with just the same last sentence: fuck the last sentence.  I think, psychoanalytically speaking, it reflects on a fear of parting. Which  is ultimately the fear of death. Fighting (as usual) with my boyfriend, who always has to go over my texts, I tell him I’ve got to kill my babies. Which means, journalistically speaking, you have got to have the guts to erase the sentences that you thought were the best, the personal highlights that show how great you are. Which is never good. I mean, to let your narcism leak into your writing. So kill your babies.  Astonishingly, this always makes the text better. I can do that. I also can throw other things away, like old birthday cards, Marty’s empty whisky boxes and Kant’s collected works. I can give up on what needs to go. Throwing things away is the little brother of writing last sentences. I have to give up on my text, make it ready for delivery. But instead of giving birth, I have to give it away for adoption. It will be adopted by the editor (very bad baby, try again) and the reader (Dear Dr. Huebener, I feel very much hurt after reading your article. You did not take into account that …). By avoiding the last sentence, the death sentence, I keep my baby. Maybe it’s missing an arm or a leg, but mine. OK, I´m exaggerating; texts are not babies. At least not my text. Since  I´m not writing for the New Yorker.  They are more like turds. Hard turds, that won’t come out easily, give me pain and pleasure at the same time. But to come back to my main and final point: fuck the last sentence. By the way, you might ask, how is it that, as opposed to what I said at the beginning, my English is New Yorkerian perfect? My boyfriend went over it. And again: fuck the last sentence.

(Foto: Roodinislas/photocase)

blub blub

In Alltag, Journalismus, Kommunikation on März 8, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Es gibt Tage, vor allem Montage, da werde ich mit News überschwemmt und steh kurz vor dem Ertrinken. Es fängt damit an, dass ich die Newsletter studiere und denke, wow,  interessant. Wenn ich das zum 20sten Mal denke, ist mir schon etwas schummerig zumute. Spätestens bei der 30sten interessanten News ahne ich, das kann doch alles gar nicht so wichtig sein. Wie überleben denn die anderen, die das nicht alles wissen? Dass Frauen, die nicht trinken, weniger zunehmen als Frauen, die gar nix trinken. Dass ein niedriger IQ mit Herz-Kreislaufkrankheiten einhergeht, dass Werbefernsehen (aber nicht einfach nur so glotzen) dick macht, dass Urlaub eigentlich gar nicht glücklich macht (sondern nur die Vorfreude darauf), das flexible Arbeitszeiten gesünder sind, dass Religion doch nicht gegen Herzkrankheiten hilft, dass Testosteron sozialer macht (außer man glaubts nicht) usw. Kann mir mal jemand wissenschaftlich zeigen, ob News das Leben der Menschen verändert. Na ja, vielleicht sollte ich das gelassener sehen (Aufregung erhöht ja mein Herzinfarktrisiko). Es sind Tropfen im Meer des vor sich hingleitenden Wissenflusses, der die Menschheit irgendwohin trägt. Ab und an twittere ich dazu, um wenigstens ein bisschen News-Ballast abzuwerfen. Meine Tweets findet man übrigens unter fabtext auf  Twitter.

(Foto: MMchen, photocase)