Wedding. Red Wedding that is. One of the few parts of Berlin never to vote for the Nazis. Wedding is still a largely working class area, very multicultural too. It is also probably the most authentic district of Berlin. And as other parts of Berlin are raising their prices on every level, Wedding is still affordable although the artists are slowly discovering the area which means the gentrification slowly begins. That also means that you can already have a damn good soy cappuccino for a humble 2 euros. I am not against gentle gentrification as long as it doesn’t kill the identity of the Kiez.
It was the first summer intensive 2014 course organised by The Reader Berlin and it took place at The Alte Kantine. In Wedding that is, but you got that, didn’t you? 🙂 For 5 days, we, that is 9 participants, focused on the art of telling tales, crafting narratives from real life experiences. Trying to shape them into stories. Readable stories that is. Stories with punch.With a heart, with a need to burst out of our system.
Tutors, mentors, life savers and je ne sais quoi were best selling author Rory Maclean (check out his website here!) and American journalist par excellence Kimberly Bradley.
There were also 2 evening events. One was a reading by famous journalist Tim Butcher who gave birth to his acclaimed new book THE TRIGGER. It’s a book about the teenage assassin named Gavrilo Princip who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand which brought the world to war in 1914.
On Wednesday Rory Maclean read from his new book BERLIN: IMAGINE A CITY and took part in a Q&A with Sharmaine Lovegrove . The last one took place in the Soho House Hotel. I missed the first event for personal reasons (and I regret it every hour since) but I went to the second one to see and hear my teacher/tutor in the Red Room of the members-only and super-posh-hotel-which-hosts-Madonna-and George Clooney-just-to-name-a-few. Rory was exactly as I expected him to be: the humble, funny, easy going super professional traveller and extreme Berlin lover. And yes, he did go dancing with David Bowie in the seventies and yes he did met Marlene Dietrich.
After his reading some of us went straight to the roof of the hotel. Posh bar, swimming pool, view on the Fernsehturm on Alexanderplatz and full moon. I have to admit, I’ve seen worse places in the world. We stayed for a drink or two. When I left the hotel, I was looking for my bike. A little too concentrated maybe (it can also lies in the fact that the bartenders aren’t really stingy when it comes to filling glasses) because I didn’t see the step in front of the hotel doors. I fell right on my knees. It hurted like hell but hey, I got up and went on with my life 🙂 I couldn’t help laughing all the way home because it was such a huge life lesson. After all that poshy, shabby chic stuff at the hotel, the universe put me right back where I belong. With my feet (well on my knees in this case) on the ground that is!
But back to the Alte Kantine. We listened to Kimberly’s and Rory’s stories, sucked in their tips on good writing, learned the soft way that fear of writing is as divers and common as the amount of Imbiss (fast food joints) in this city, and finally accepted that we will never be able to overcome them all. We have to embrace some, just to be able to go on, to go further, to go where no one…well you got my point.
The journalist versus travel author duo works remarkably well. A man and a woman. A Canadian and an American (if you have any doubt of who’s what, just ask them to pronounce ‘process’, hilarious). Totally different personalities. But both passionate, humble and extremely professional. And damn good observers. And so were the participants. Real people with real stories to tell. All of us. No exception.
Although most of us were used to get out of comfort zone regularly we were sometimes forced to go a little further. The hardest part was on Thursday where we had to dive deep into our personal traumas just to be able to write about them from a different perspective. To look at ourselves from another perspective. Rory wrote a book around one of his personal traumas and although I haven’t read it yet, I intent to do it, because the way he talks about it, is insanely beautiful. Only one of us course members had the courage to read his story aloud. But that was so strong it left the rest of us voiceless.
And for those of you readers who think writers are boring and fucked up intellectuals. I confess: we are, totally. But only during working time 🙂 The rest of the time we are very much alive and kicking, Moleskine in one hand, pen in the other, always looking for stories, always living intense and ready to step right out of these boring boxes.
And that’s exactly how some of us ended that week. How many of you did make it to a High Heels lesson at Madonna’s Hard Candy, huh ?!?
This blogpost was NOT edited and I’m afraid it shows. I’m the only one to blame :-)))