Infrequently Asked Questions

: Intensify It? Really?

Anca: Yes, really! I’ve spent a good portion of my life feeling ashamed of the intensity of my feelings, but these days none of that feels like a flaw anymore, but rather a strength. A superpower, if you like, that comes with great responsibility and a need for transparency, but a superpower nonetheless. My blog used to be called Escapism until a) I didn’t want to escape myself anymore, but learn how to embrace myself; and b) escapism became synonymous with Netflix. People with my kind of quirks and intensities are my favourite ones, so now I kinda want to be like them – only that I already am, so y’know, it’s easy. All I have to do is give myself a long hard look and accept everything about myself… something like that. Plus, God knows I tried hard not to use my favourite quote  – ‘I only believe in fire. Life. Fire. Being myself on fire I set others on fire.‘ – as the tagline. Ah, would you look at that… I’ve just used that too.

Interviewer: Nice. So what’s the deal with this blog?

Anca: I started this blog in 2012 as part of my Journalism course. The idea was to get comfortable with publishing our writings, but I hated publishing mine with a passion because I felt they didn’t do me justice. My words sound better coming from my hands than from my mouth. It’s always been like this, so I knew I could write, but I wanted to try my hand at investigative journalism – which I was then completely clueless about – so by the time I had to submit something I had, well, almost nothing. In a desperate attempt to have something to show I quickly turned to what I knew best: writing short stories. I had written in Romanian all my life (since I was 2, to be precise; just ask my mum.) It was my soul food whenever I felt restless. Writing in a second language, however, felt strange and untrue to what was inside me at first. My ideas didn’t flow naturally. The result was always much too edited for my liking. Then there was the fact that making mistakes blogging intimidated me much more than making mistakes writing, say, essays. It was easy to dismiss academic work as ‘not quite what I wanted to say, anyway.’ But something that came straight from the heart was personal and, therefore, had to show me as I wanted to be seen – and I did not want to be seen as the foreign girl mixing verb tenses.

Interviewer: Then what?

Anca: Uhm… it was when I first had a taste of internet popularity that I dropped all inhibitions when it came to my writings. Someone reblogged one of my stories and people from all over the world suddenly liked and commented on my writings for a number of very happy days, not to mention the shares. I was dazed (and confused) and was left with a very valuable lesson – that I’m a little rockstar and can therefore keep writing until everybody sees that and I reach insane levels of fame, obviously (or at the very least pass for a writer when someone asks what I do for fun.) Writing in English these days feels to me like trying my hand at a really complex puzzle and hoping I don’t mess up, to be fair. It’s an exercise in creativity, strategy, and ultimately, reinventing myself over and over again. It’s just a lot more fun without the burning questioning of whether I’m doing it right or not. In fact, I enjoy the hell out of it. I love having a platform where I can express myself now. Hey, I might even look into having my own radio show one day!

Interviewer: Ok, ok. So what are you going to make out of it? The blog, not the radio station.

Anca: Hopefully, money too *laughs nervously*. I aim to start self-publishing again soon, but in terms of a career, I’m looking at content marketing. My undergraduate studies led me to reading Debbie Millman’s Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. It was my first encounter with rapidly-growing interests in marketing, branding and identity. I’ve now started studying developing brand awareness through conceptualising visions and translating them into the design and content of marketing tools. This is a pretty interesting, refreshing, and ultimately defining moment in marketing – demanding constant innovation, instant gratification, product transparency and uniqueness, yadda yadda – and I kinda really, really want to take part in it. But you know what would be the best? No, let me tell you – mixing marketing with publishing, just like I used to, only better. My ultimate goal would be to help new writers market themselves much better than I ever knew how to in the beginning. I’ll learn the ins and outs quickly, then come back to you on how I’m planning to do just that, okay?

Interviewer: Did you ever self-publish?

Anca: I self-published twice, yes. Once with a traditional publisher back in Romania, when I was 15 (the book came out after my 16th birthday – it’s quite a story actually, remind me to tell you how that happened!) and once using Amazon’s Createspace platform. I ended up hating the result and deleted the e-book after about a year though. I’m working on overcoming my perfectionism and getting ready to self-publish again and I now  have a novel-in-progress, but I’d also like to experiment with a collection of short stories, some of which I’ve already posted on this blog and have received great feedback.

Interviewer: What about the more traditional route?

Anca: Believe it or not, after university I obsessed over getting into the publishing industry. I craved a creative career that would hone my writing skills, but would also allow me to help others make good use of theirs, so marketing books seemed ideal. I got involved in the Society of Young Publishers, interned at the big trade publishers and a couple of marketing-for-authors companies, and eventually landed a contract job in academic and professional publishing. But it’s precisely because of having been there that I would not be very tempted to submit my upcoming manuscript to a traditional publisher. The process is very slow and the marketing isn’t very focused, unless you come with an army of social media fans. I’m not crazy interested in making it big, in any case. I mean, sure, it’d be very nice, but I am more interested in making it mine, making it matter, making it beautiful. If it catches the right people’s attention in the process then great, but that will be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. I won’t let myself be defined by numbers, because that’s all subjective anyway. But if I find a way to make (self-)publishing more accessible for the talented, I promise to make it my life’s work. For now I’m learning and figuring things out for myself and you might want to hear about my Marketing MA at the Universi–

Interviewer: Cool. Favourite food?

Anca: *clears throat* goats cheese and red onion chutney in a panini, actually. Embarrassing, I know.

Interviewer: No way! I was just thinking the same thing!

Anca: Aw. Go figure…