Updated on April 14, 2024 by Angelika

Now, finally - at over 60 years old - I feel like I'm living my dream. I sit at my desk, pick up a keyword, an impulse or a Google search term and write a text that I hope will help many people. That doesn't exactly sound like enthusiastic self-realization, does it? And yet I'm doing exactly what I want to do. Admittedly, I used to have other dreams. Who at my age didn't?

Anna Koschinski called for the blog parade Writing about Writing - a great opportunity to go on a journey through time to the stages of my life and writing.

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The Early Fascination with Letters and Words

As a child, I was really looking forward to finally going to school - because I wanted to learn to read and write, and very quickly! I think I learned really quickly, because when I think back to my primary school days, I always see myself reading - Astrid Lindgren and Enid Blyton (the Hanni and Nanni series) were my favorite writers. Reading made me one with my heroines and I dreamed of transforming my reserved, sensitive (in my eyes weak) self into a strong, self-confident, indomitable fighter.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that there were many ethnic German immigrant children in my group and class at nursery and elementary school - I tried to speak perfect High German from an early age and to get rid to the Swabian dialect. This earned me ridicule from my parents and relatives. But I wanted to speak the way I knew it from my favorite books.

To be able to write beautiful books like Astrid Lindgren - even as a child I suspected that you could earn a piece of immortality through writing. I wanted to practice diligently so that one day I could make the world of other children richer and more colorful.

Children's Poems and Youth Projects: First Steps as an Author

Early on, I tried my hand at writing my own texts. I wanted to put down on paper what moved my childhood soul. In the 1960s and 70s, we lived in a typical block of flats in a faceless new-build district. Between our house and the next block there was a lawn with a sign saying "No trespassing". We were 10 or 11 years old. I played on the lawn with my friend and my sister despite the no trespassing sign. There was always an old man sitting on the balcony on the third floor who spent the whole day making sure that everyone followed the rules. He scolded us from above, telling us to get off the lawn. When we didn't listen to him, he even came down the three floors and shouted at us if we couldn't read what the sign said - we were ruining the lawn with our trampling around. We trolled off.

We decided to get revenge by writing the bad old man a suitable poem. We put a lot of effort into it and worked on it for a couple of hours. The poem began with the lines: "Like an emperor he stands there, all his majesty. Blades of grass bend, buttercups stir. There - enemy soldiers enter his realm /The emperor walks down the stairs and razes them to the ground ..."). We proudly titled our work "The Emperor of the Blades of Grass" and dropped it in his letterbox. The addressee didn't exactly take it with humor and immediately informed my parents. I think they thought the poem was quite funny and well done, but the three of us had to grovel to the "Emperor" and apologize. "The Emperor of the Blades of Grass" was my first literary product to see the light of day outside of school, so to speak, even if it was a joint effort.

Two years later, I wrote a multi-volume novel in dialog form with the same friend, but without my sister. We were so immersed in our dream world and so obsessed with writing that we couldn't stop even during school hours. This led to my father being summoned to the class teacher. Dad and the teacher praised our creativity, but wanted us to express it outside the classroom. From then on, we tried to hide our writing better at school.

Great Literature and a Lifelong Dream

The first great novel I read was Gone With the Wind*. I devoured the book in three days and three nights at the age of twelve. From then on, I seriously dreamed of becoming a writer. Even then, however, I realized that it would require a great deal of knowledge and life experience to write such an epic work. I read my way through my parents' bookcase, and I wasn't very picky - I remember many Simmel novels and the Angélique series. In my teenage years, I discovered contemporary authors such as Heinrich Böll, Max Frisch and Günter Grass, as well as authors from the first half of the 20th century such as Bertolt Brecht, Stefan Zweig, Hemingway and D. H. Lawrence. I tried my hand at poems in Erich Fried's. When I was asked about my career aspirations, I answered "journalist", without really realizing what this job required. As I already knew how to type, I thought I was already well equipped. Typing newspaper articles on a typewriter all day in an office or putting a novel on paper in a café in Paris - that's roughly how I imagined my future.

Selection of books from my bookcase spread out on the table

Between Reverie and Reality

In the 11th grade, I couldn't keep up in math and physics - today I think it was because of the teachers. I longed to stand on my own two feet as quickly as possible, earn money and see the world. German, English and History were my favorite subjects and the only ones in which I got excellent grades. I had already taught myself typing at the age of 11 and worked at the district savings bank during the vacations when I was 15 - you can read about it in my article 50 Fun Facts About Me. An office job didn't put me off, on the contrary, it seemed quite tempting. I had lowered my expectations of my future profession and wanted to do "something with languages". After all, being a writer is not an apprenticeship - I could write a novel "on the side at some point". So I decided to train as a business correspondent for English. A somewhat grandiose title for a training course that made me a de facto foreign language secretary. I was able to write English texts in shorthand and type them on a typewriter with almost no mistakes (there were no computers yet!), and I had acquired a basic knowledge of business and economics. In my private life, I was always writing something - poems, short stories, long letters.

Writing as an Unexpected Constant in My Professional Development

My career path has taken me through all kinds of stations - from shipping clerk, legal secretary, management assistant to controller and expert for operational processes, after I had completed an evening course in business administration as a single mother in my thirties. My life path took me from Stuttgart to Bremen, where my daughter was born, and back to my hometown with her. No reason to regret anything or to quarrel with fate. After all, I learned a lot from everything that didn't go perfectly. In the course of my life, I realized that, in addition to an affinity for writing, I also had strong analytical skills, which I was happy to bring to my professional tasks. I loved developing, optimizing and documenting work processes so that employees could understand and implement them. I also had the privilege to write a lot in these jobs: I wrote extensive and detailed step-by-step instructions, visualized processes in PowerPoint presentations and wrote management summaries in which I summarized essentials for the leadership team. What I learned during these years of work is very useful to me today as a travel blogger.

The Writing Workshop: Discovering My Own Voice through Community and Feedback

In the early 2000s, I had what I considered to be the necessary life experience for an author, but no more time to write. When I looked through the program at the adult education center every six months, the course "Writing Your Life Story" caught my eye. I had over 40 years of life under my belt - enough to tackle a project like this, or at least to write and exchange ideas with other like-minded people. I signed up for this course in 2003. I have never felt so welcome in a group as I did here. Since then, the text workshop has carried me through many a difficult phase in my life. In over 20 years, many stories have been written, and with fun, practice and feedback from others, my texts have continued to develop. Until 2017, we published an annual collection of our favorite short stories that we had written over the course of the year. I believe that I have developed my sense of the quality of a text enormously over these 20 years and can realistically assess my own abilities. I was never particularly good at writing stories. When I write, I mostly process my own experiences, sort out my thoughts, reflect on the past. I believe that I write better than many, but that there are also many who write better than me. I don't think my talent would be enough for a big breakthrough as a novelist. But I still want to write - and achieve something with it.

Five books from the writing workshop scattered on my dining table - angiestravelroutes.com
A selection of books published by the writing workshop. I was co-editor of one of them.

From Burnout to Reorientation

The idea of setting up a travel blog and combining my favorite pastimes of writing, traveling and photography developed after I quit my job in 2018 due to burnout. During rehab and subsequent coaching sessions I took over several months, I fleshed out my plans. I discarded the original idea of blogging about my travels around the world during a WordPress course with the web designer Birgit Hotz, who made me realize that travel around the world is not a niche and that I would have a hard time competing with the thousands of world travel bloggers already out there in the blogosphere. It was clear to me that if I was going to write, I wanted to reach people and help them in some way. During the pandemic, I went on a few road trips through Germany and was amazed by the interesting places, beautiful landscapes and historical sights I discovered. In Birgit's course, where we initially worked on our positioning, I realized that a Germany travel blog would be the best way for me to reach many readers, because it's much easier to build up comprehensive knowledge about your own country than for other countries that you only visit once. Only when I live in a country can I go into depth and develop a real understanding of its history and culture - at least that's my opinion,

Start-Up Assistance from the Blogger Community

With these insights and an unpublished website that comprised five pages and three blog articles, I participated in blogger coach Judith Peters annual Year in Review challenge, and wrote my 2022 Year in Review. I was so inspired by Judith's creativity and infectious energy that I signed up for her blogger of the year program. The Content Society shortly after I put my website online. The Content Society is a community of bloggers who give each other feedback and motivation. There is an extensive knowledge database and experts for all important blogging topics, co-blogging sessions, a weekly blog impulse from Judith, monthly blog & business talks with her and much more. In my first year, I wrote over 20 blog articles, some of them very extensive, which I certainly wouldn't have been able to do without the motivation and new insights I gained in The Content Society. That's why I signed up again for 2024. Judith's blog impulse from March 18 was to take part in the challenge Writing about Writing to take part! I would never have thought of it on my own, as I didn't know Anna and her blog before. The Content Society is worth gold also because of the opportunities to network with other bloggers.

From Dream to Reality in the Digital Age

I've been blogging for a little over a year now and I finally have the opportunity to do what I've wanted to do all my life - write and share my writing with the world. Even though I find it less easy than I once imagined. Being a travel blogger requires an incredible amount of time-consuming research - after all, I want all the information in my texts to be correct. I'm not in the mood for "my travel diary" type articles without any specific helpful tips because, like most people, I want to be useful. I also find books that are only written to entertain us useless. The entertainment value is probably enough for many readers and many authors. But not for me. So I enjoy the novels of great writers like Haruki Murakami*, Iris Wolff*, Daniel Kehlmann*, July Zeh*, Bernhard Schlink*, Daniela Krien* and others who have something to say and who use language much more skillfully than I could learn. Instead, I travel through my home country with my eyes wide open, look for the most beautiful perspectives with my camera, try to fathom historical contexts and try to put it all into readable, understandable and helpful blog articles.

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