Making the Words Count

Update: Hello, this is Atikah from the future. This post touches on my writing aspirations and it mentions that I was a part of the writing team of a football fansite. Of course, this was back in 2014 and I’ve since left the team in 2015. Still, this post is a nice reminder of who I was back in that year. The fansite is still running and you can check them out at the link below!

Every time I publish a post, I keep telling myself, I will post more.

And then, I go on a mini hiatus, only to resurface with short posts. I remember last year, I told myself that I will write essays. Well-written, fully-researched essays. And I have tons of ideas. I have a notebook that holds some of the ideas that I want to do. My previous phone had some quick scribbles of things that I wanted to flesh out (I have since replaced that phone).  Back in October, I even read “The King in Yellow” by Robert W Chambers, specifically for Halloween. Halloween went by and I’m still midway reading the book.

So, what happened?

A lot of things. A lot of things that involve writing, just not on this space.

For starters, I haven’t really mentioned it here but I became a copywriter about 5 months ago. I never thought I would be in advertising; it just didn’t occur to me at all to dabble in this line. Like every stereotypical English major, publishing and academia had always been my goal. I had even gotten an offer to work in a newspaper agency as a sub-editor. As I was waiting for the machine within the company to do the paperwork and let me in, I got an offer from my current one. So, here’s a lesson for companies: reduce the red tape. You don’t know who will slip out from the waiting line.

Copywriting in advertising involves a lot of bite-size write-ups. Sometimes I would simmer for half an hour to think up a catchy liner that only has 30 characters. Other times, a handful of paragraphs, but gone are the days where I would plonk on my chair and churn out pages of words. I particularly hate the ones where I have to sell two products that have absolutely nothing to do with each other in the same damn ad. And I have to try my hardest to make it sound natural or quirky, like this food is as delicious as the deal you’re getting when you buy this bottle of perfume at 50% off!

Eh, passable.

My favourite ones are the radio ads. I like to be caught offguard listening to an ad I just made up being played on radio stations. The first time I heard a radio ad I wrote live, I couldn’t stop laughing because it was so weird! It’s a weird feeling to know that thousands were listening to something you typed down after lunch a few days ago. In my first job, I was a sub-editor where I edit other people’s work and was never credited for it, unless it’s a book. So, it’s strange for me to see my own work front and centre. No credits still but I’m working on that.

It’s not all interesting work though. There are times where I just proofread terms and conditions, reword certain sections of the FAQ page or get into arguments about rewriting an ad. After spending a day squeezing my brains out for juicy lines and dealing with vulture-like requests to churn churn churn those words out, all I want to do is go home and watch a lot of Youtube videos. And so, I do just that. My sincere apologies.

There are also other things: I realise that my ultimate goal is to write well and better. Not just fiction work that I’ve been doing with UnRepresented KL, but also non-fiction, commercial, and even corporate. I never realised there’s a market for corporate writing before. But the dumbest thing has to be that I never realised a lot of the media that we consume has its foundation on words. I’m not talking about just articles – advertisements, songs, videos, even tweets are made out of words. Ideas, even how great, would collapse if it wasn’t for the hand of words narrowing and expanding their possibilities. All around us are made of words. I feel that if I could master this, turning the creation of words as a tool, I could create anything.

So I’ve been dabbling in some freelance work and writing hobbies. At the moment, none of my freelance work could make me go “Look at me, Ma!” yet but I’m just leaving the door open. As for writing hobbies, I’ve been waiting to announce this: I’m currently an assistant editor at Bayern Central, a website focused on Bundesliga and FC Bayern Munich.

Look at me, Ma, I’m a football blogger!

Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, I mostly write simple write-ups of current events and the meat of my participation under Bayern Central is editing. We work with a lot of writers and these writers have a lot to talk about. So, that’s where I come in and mould their words here and there. It’s been a long walk from my post about the World Cup to this. I’m glad that I’m being siphoned into this group of awesome and passionate football fans!

I feel somewhat shy to write about football tactics, to be honest. I feel like I don’t have the necessary skills or know-how yet to digest a match as well as these folks do. It is not at all like this:

Yes, but which part of the pitch was he kicking the ball to, Moss? Who is “that man” who now has the ball? What kind of technique? What was the tactical choice used here? And et cetera.

Some of the football bloggers I’ve befriended are some of the smartest people I know. And they could spit out a stat faster than you can Google. People don’t teach you how to write about football, this is something you pick up and hone by yourself. You have to instinctively know what’s happening in the middle of play and how it affects the match, the team, the entire tournament they’ve been playing, and the big scheme of things. That’s incredibly difficult. I’m rather proud of it and although it’s a bit out of place with the sort of content I write on this blog, I hope you will give it a try!

So, yes, I’ve been the busy bee. So busy, in fact, that sometimes I work during my free time and weekends. Just your typical ENFP, hording experiences as much as she can. One thing that I’m glad is that I never announced my participation in NaNoWriMo on this blog. Simply because it fell flat on the second day. I was proud of myself for squeezing out 500-ish words. Then, I went to a local FB page of NaNoWriMo and found out everyone gives birth to thousands and thousands of words a day.

Now, it’s day 16 of NaNoWriMo. How much have I raked up so far? Still the same 500 words on my first.

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World Cup is Here

Here we go again! I can’t believe four years have gone by. The 20 year old me would probably be counting down the hours, while anxiously clutching on her phone that’s permanently on Tumblr. A lot of GIFs to be reblogged. The current me is trying to figure out how to fit the World Cup schedule into my life as the matches that I care about are way past midnight. But I will prevail. My 20 year old self would never forgive me if I didn’t try.

If anybody asked me when I started falling in love with football, I’d say 2002. A good 12 years would convince them of my obsession. But really, I was 12 and I was like any other football bandwagoner: I watched the semi-final and final matches during the Korea-Japan tournament and decided to root for Germany. I particularly remembered Michael Ballack. He’s a handsome man and talented to boot.

But to be honest, it was the 2010 tournament that really turned me into a football fan. If you asked me in 2009 if I would ever fall head to toe in love with football in the next year, I’d say you’re mad. In 2010, I was mad; really, I can’t even illustrate it for you, you just had to believe me. I was a complete novice, I didn’t understand a lot of how the game works. I still remember it: it was a total fluke, me watching Germany v Australia at 3 am. Like all university and college kids, my sleeping biological clock was already screwed up so I normally sleep at 4 am anyway. I suddenly thought, hey, what’s Michael Ballack doing? Injured as it turns out. But boy oh boy, did the German team thrashed Australia 4-0. Good God, it was fantastic! I was reeling from the feeling of euphoria that I had never experienced. The vuvuzelas were singing to the heavens and Jogi Löw whooped and cheered in his uber fashionable blue sweater.

It was set in stone.

Die Mannschaft 2010.

I missed the Serbia and Ghana matches, no thanks to final exams, but who can forget the butthurt we caused slaying England and Argentina? The disallowed goal by Lampard; a lot of my England fan friends were absolutely livid on my Facebook wall. I did nothing to quell it though, I was confident we were going to win the whole thing. Then, Maradona’s devastated facial expression graced our TV when our boys scored goal after goal. Messi’s anguished tears when the final whistle rang out. I actually watched the Argentina match at a friend’s house and basically egged on my Argentina fan friend until he had to sit at a corner to calm himself down. Four goals each, my friend. That is an amazing feat. I was on a high for weeks. My life soundtrack at that moment was basically K’nan’s “Waving Flag”, “Gimme Hope Joachim” and Shakira’s “Waka Waka”. I didn’t even have to Google to spell the names of Schweinsteiger, Podolski or Mertesacker.

But unfortunately, the fairy tale ended, not with a bang but a whimper.

I didn’t know it at that time but the Spanish team has been Germany’s kryptonite for a good few years now, ever since Germany lost in the finals of EURO 2008. Despite raining goals in the England and Argentina games, facing Spain turned their knees into jelly. Suddenly, they couldn’t find each other to pass the ball, shots went off target. It didn’t help that Spain was playing tiki-taka all over the field, Barcelona raging forth in South Africa. One measly goal from Spain and Germany relegated to a match for the third place. Devastated couldn’t even begin to describe how I felt. But that’s the strange thing about football: the more painful the defeat, the more fiercely you decide to support your team. You can’t just let your players go after a defeat. What are you, a gloryhunter? Heck no! I watched as Germany’s benchwarmers take on Uruguay as most of the starters suddenly had fallen sick.

That’s when Bastian Schweinsteiger really shined, as a captain and a midfielder. A mistake by him cost Germany a goal and he was upset for a split second but he was determined to bring home a medal. They didn’t call him the Fussballgott for nothing. Even until now, whenever I think of buying a jersey, it’s always Schweinsteiger’s name that I want on my back. Despite Suarez’s charisma, it was Germany’s night. Sure, they lost the tournament but seeing the boys cheered as they received their medals made me realise how much I wanted them to win gold.

I was at a crossroad after the World Cup: should I simply wait another four years for the next World Cup or delve into the unknown world of Bundesliga where my favourite players continue to flourish?

I decided to watch one Bayern Munich match since most of my favourite players – Schweinsteiger, Neuer, Klose and Müller – were in that club. It was against Kaiserslautern. Like a typical first match after an international tournament, the match ended nil nil. And yet, I fell in love with the club anyway! Before I knew it, I was watching every match diligently on dodgy stream sites. My Tumblr went nuts. I went into intensive education mode. I learned the rules of football, the lingo, the league, the clubs involved and even football strategies. Since Bundesliga is utterly German-concentrated, I even picked up a few words in German! I tried to learn the language entirely but the gender grammar rules lost me. My friends watched me spiral into a crazed Germanophile but I was making new football friends online.

And Bayern Munich in 2010 is not the Bayern Munich today. The manic Van Gaal days where Bayern was slowly deteriorating, Klose was nowhere the top goal scorer that he had been and BVB basically smushed our heads into the turf with every match. Then, the Jonker days, basically putting the team on rehab and climbing from the Dutch funk. And of course, Heynckes, the man who led us into our worst defeat and then gave us the best year a football fan could ever want. Winning the treble: the league, DFB Pokal and the Champions League.

I will be honest and say that after four years, I love Bayern more than Die Mannschaft.

But here we are. Another World Cup and a controversial one at that. Four years had made me wiser about the game but also less optimistic. We lost at the semifinals back in EURO 2012 and getting kicked out in the semis starting to look like a bad habit now. It doesn’t help that Die Mannschaft’s manager has been making questionable choices. His favouritism towards certain players is one thing but he also bows down to pressure too many times. Germany has the most talented players at his disposal right now. But will we able to win everything with his lead? Only time will tell.

I just hope I will be able to watch it when it happens!