Sunday 17 August 2014

Last Going Dutch with German Writers Coming Soon

Last night I went on my last night on the tiles with a German writer, for the time being at least. I went out bar-hopping with Daniel Schreiber, the charming, intelligent and good-looking author of the forthcoming Nüchtern, a non-fiction book about going sober. The book comes out in a week or so, after which my text will be available online at the Tagesspiegel website. It's scary and informative and personal, and a little bit like taking the red pill – prompting me to examine my drinking habits and other people's in a possibly life-changing way. You can read an advance extract here.

But that's not main the reason why I'm putting Going Dutch to bed. My favourite reason is that I want to concentrate on something else – more on that tomorrow – which I hope will occupy about the same amount of time every month or so. The last piece will be my twentieth, which is a beautiful round number and feels like the perfect cut-off point. Also, the switch to the newspaper meant more readers, I assume, but less feedback. As far as I know, no one has ever commented beneath one of the Tagesspiegel pieces, and I can't check the statistics like I obsessively do with my blogs. It turns out I am much more of a blogger than a journalist, not only because I can't take photos for toffee but also because I love the sense of community, if I can call it that, which you just don't get when you contribute the occasional article to a newspaper.

There are content-related reasons, too. Most importantly, I began to feel like I was repeating myself. The pieces are based on conversations between myself and German writers, so inevitably my own concerns surface. How many times do people want to read about shared parenting, time management issues and gentrification? Presumably not another twenty times. And then there were the reactions. After the Tagesspiegel ran a double-page spread in its Saturday print issue, made up of a best-of translated into German, I was briefly famous in certain circles. My daughter's teacher read it. My ex-step-mother-in-law read it. My favourite DJ read it. A lot of literary people read it. Some of the reactions were entirely positive – about fifty percent, to go by the sample above. Others were more complicated. People project their ideas onto other people, of course, and I'm no exception. But ideas about women who write about drinking are pretty dank and dark. I'm not sure how much people think they know about my drinking habits, which are none of their business, but a lot of people thought they knew a hell of a lot. Some people also drew conclusions, from the fact that I was writing about drinking, as to my sexual habits. Which are equally none of their business. More than one person semi-jokingly suggested I could go a step further than merely drinking with German writers. I hope they felt as awkward after saying that as I did after they said it, but I suspect they didn't.

Plus, of course – and I almost didn't write this because I don't want to start moralizing – there's my liver to think of.

So, the end is nigh. I've hugely enjoyed all my evenings and mornings and afternoons out drinking, walking and talking with German writers. I will miss them – when will I ever get another chance to legitimately invite semi-strangers out for stimulating conversation? Oh, wait – there's dating. I'd like to thank all the German writers with whom I've gone Dutch over the past year and a half, or whatever it is. I feel like I've made some wonderful new friends in many cases, and every occasion was a treat. You can find all the pieces here. And if you happen to run an English-language publication and would like to commission biased and unprofessional interviews with German writers, do get in touch.


Anonymous said...

It's a shame, you're not continuing with it. I really felt you revealed a human side of authors. I have never previously commented on your "Dutch" articles simply because I don't really comment on blogs. Rather terrible though that people draw conclusions about other aspects of your life from the fact that you are going out for a drink with a writer. It's maybe a German thing, though. Back in Britain people wouldn't connect the two. Though I have in the past, in England, been asked about my drinking habits on the simple basis of being a Scotsman, so I can slightly appreciate where you're coming from.

Susanne said...

Kathy, I shall miss reading your "going Dutch" series!I only discovered them recently and very much enjoyed them. Thanks for sharing them with your readers!

Since I'm shy about posting comments I actually tried to send you a personal e-mail about them earlier this month but only found what may have been an old e-mail address. If there is another way to reach you, please let me know and I will forward the message to you.

Monica said...

Now I feel a bit stupid/blind for not finding out earlier about this, but still happy I get to catch up on 20 different interviews. Nice! Ich freue mich sehr darauf (darüber, auch?)

On a different note, it saddens and angers me to read about that portion of reactions that were so gratuitously nasty. I just don't have enough calm and polite words at the moment to add any comment on that so I will just say, thank you for sharing that too. I imagine it's not easy to talk about, but it is something that shouldn't be ignored.

kjd said...

Thanks everyone. The thing is, I don't think the people who said those things thought they were being nasty. They may have noticed they were being creepy after the fact, having overstepped a line, or they may not have done.

But still, I had a great time writing those twenty pieces and people so seem to like reading them, so it was worth it.

Helen MacCormac said...

Sad to see this one go - I enjoyed them all and loved the way you turned great writers into ordinary interesting people put in an exciting place for a moment or two. Good luck with the next venture. You'll be fine. You ask all the right questions.

kjd said...

Ahhh, thank you, Helen!

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