Once upon a time I was part of the writers’ group that grew out of the book ‘Tales from the Expat Harem, Foreign Women in Modern Turkey’, the brain child of Anastasia Ashman and Jennifer Eaton Gökmen. I still feel full of gratitude for this tireless pair of literary entrepreneurs, thanks to whom my first short story was published.
Already back then, Anastasia had a special knack for inspiring me. For her nothing seemed impossible. Next to her eagerness to experiment, my traditional approach felt positively slow and old-fashioned. I was still operating in a world where writing was one thing, and ‘internetting’ something totally different. But whenever I talked to her, she made me feel that I too had a whole vista of opportunities, and many a beautiful idea was born around our lunch table.
After I quit journalism, I especially needed her kind of pep-talk. Yes, it had been a conscious choice to take that step, but little did I know I’d tumble through the mirror into a deep, deep void. As a well-published freelance reporter abroad I had been used to motivating myself. But I was not prepared for a world without deadlines, without my daily chat with the editor’s desk, without the phone even so much as ringing for days on end.
We’ve both moved on. Anastasia went back to the States and turned her knack into her profession. Together with Tara Agacayak she founded Global Niche, an online ‘world-wide empowerment network’. In Muggle language: Global Niche motivates and guides drifting ships like me: people who need help focusing their ideas, who get overwhelmed by all the options on social media and therefore don’t use it to the max to get their message out.
They’ve been prodding me for a long time to join the ‘study group’, a platform through which we, members of the network, monitor and encourage each other in small, virtual groups. My first reaction was: ‘stop it, go away! I have enough on my plate!’ Then, suddenly it struck me: this could be my new editor’s desk. And indeed, in a way this group of people from all over the world did become my new sounding board, the place where I tested my ideas for stories, for blog posts and what more, to get inspired to produce them.
So to all of you out there in the open sea who can’t find their course, I’d say: give a small group of committed partners a try. Anastasia and Tara are on to something good.