Dorothee Lang

When I was young, I thought one’s life would somehow develop in a more or less straight line. That the most intriguing years are the ones around 20, when everything is still new and exciting. That around 30, you start to settle down, know your path, and go on a vacation when you long for other horizons.

Turned out, I had no real idea of life lines:

That they don’t follow defined geometric shapes. Or if so, mine moves in curves, spirals and cotangents.

That life itself is the journey.

That the most vivid time of our life keeps walking alongside of us. It is: now. 

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Here are some key places and passages of my journey so far:

BASICS:

  • Name: Dorothee Lang
  • Nationality: German
  • Born: Christmas 1968
    (true. which makes me a capricorn in the West + a monkey in the East.
    I even wrote 2 monkey stories, one happend like that, one is fiction)
  • Student years: I studied economies and marketing
  • Jobs before the first “real” job: office help, supermarket cashier, bookstore employee, web agency trainee, ..
  • First job: product manager for magazines in a publishing / media company
  • Current job: web freelancer and journalist

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BECOMING BILINGUAL

In case you wonder: I am German, always lived here, started to learn English in school, and then just kept on learning. There probably are 2 things that made a difference back then: We had a brilliant English teacher at school, who encouraged us to read books in their original language.

About the same time, my father bought a computer, a TRS-80. That was the early days of home computers, everything was in English: so I started to read English computer magazines, learned Basic, and ended up rather unafraid of languages, computers, codes and manuals.

I didn’t write fiction back then, but looking back, if you see it from a different angle, those were the days my creative writing started: with writing small, fun computer games in Basic. It was a long time yet, though, until I really started to write – and even longer until I wrote reflections on being bilingual, like this one:  Writers in Masks, or this reflection on language:  Out of whack and out of step, which was part of a series of blog-carnival on language and place that I organized.

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THE TRAVEL YEARS

I always loved books and journeys, and enjoyed reading travelogues, but didn’t think I would one day write travel books myself. Then, to cut a long story short, after some years in work, I felt that I need a break from things – and went to Asia several times, alone, with a backpack: a switch of continents and cultures.

To process all the new impressions, I started journaling, and then writing travelogues – and connected to others in the amazing travel webforum of Lonely Planet (which is history now..). In time, this lead to visiting and contributing to literary online magazine in English – and to the discovery of a whole scene that doesn’t exist like that in Germany.

That’s also how my web-design began: by travelling, meeting other travellers, and then keeping in touch after the journey, and sharing travel images and stories with family, friends, and fellow travellers. Plus, in a good parallel of timing, I was asked to help with a company website.

Here’s one of the travel pages I put together after returning from a trip through South East Asia that lead through Thailand, Laos and Vietnam: Life is a journey, not a destination

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AUTHOR + EDITOR 

There is this German saying: “Wenn einer eine Reise macht, dann kann er was erzählen”“If someone makes a journey, they have stories to tell.” 

Turned out, my travels in Asia very much had that effect, especially India. Before India, I mostly wrote travel essays and short stories. Yet with each journey, the stories grew longer. And for India, they turned into my first book: Masala Moments.

Travels have a second effect, though: writing about travels creates connection points, and initiates conversations. Even with strangers. That’s how my second book happened: it started with a mail from a stranger. Which lead to a mail dialogue across borders, and to letters from Germany to China and back. To stories shared, notes written, photos sent. The whole of it turned into a book: “WOR(L)DS APART“.

In counterpart to my own writing, I was fascinated by the travelogues others shared in blogs and in the travel forum. So many inspiring stories – and many were just a post that faded in the timeline. That’s how the idea for an own travel magazine bubbled up: Subside.zine. A place to give those stories a more permanent home.

At some point, the focus grew wider, from travels to fiction.

Actually, I realized later, this isn’t such a big leap: most stories, fiction and non-fiction alike, are about life’s passages, about encounters and crossroads, about getting lost and getting found, about finding ones way. And that’s how I turned into a German editor of an English indie magazine with focus on literature and art: BluePrintReview.

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FREELANCE PROJECTS

My travels and online ventures had yet another unexpected effect: through them, I got contacted for business web work. Here’s an example how this happened:

One day, an ex-colleague contacted me, with a project that was about hosting an online-community for writers. “Didn’t you say you are part of such an online community yourself?” she asked. We met for lunch, I told her about the indie magazines I edit, and about the English travel and writing forums – and she told me more about the project she organized: a comic community, in German. Something clicked, for both of us. So I joined the team of myComics, and am part of it since the launch.

Often, one project then leads to another one: the myComics community lead to work for magazine websites. Plus, once there is a project, there is a stream of ideas: to add a newsletter, to do a reader’s survey, to organize a real life event… and so my freelance work grew naturally, leading to new places and tasks.

Most of my freelance work is in German. More about it, with links to the projects, here: Web Agentur.

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SURVIVING, HEALING, ― AND PAINTING

If all would have kept on working out in that way, with one project leading to the next,  BluePrintReview would still be running, I would have gone on another longer journey, and probably written a new book.

But in 2014, things came to a halt. The reason was the dangerous and devastating illness that is so common today, yet still ungraspable: cancer.

Until then, I was a healthy person. Or at least, I thought I was. In the months before the diagnosis, I noticed that something was not quite right. But it took a while until the docs and I could figure it out. I didn’t look sick. I didn’t feel dangerously ill. That is the irony of cancer: you are ill, but it doesn’t show for a long time.

Cancer is a complex and cruel illness, and the therapy is as complex and difficult.

To process the mix of emotions, information and clinic / doctor dates, I started journaling again. This helped to keep track of things. Here’s a note from that time:

The illness/treatment time takes months. To support patients, the clinic tried a new approach, and offered an art therapy course for chemo patients. I went there, not sure what to expect. But I knew that every little bit of help would be beneficial. Turned out, the art therapy was much more than a bit of help. It brought the colors back into my world that was shadowed with fear and illness. It opened a door, to a different way of expression. I am painting ever since, and still join the art group.

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NOW + UPCOMING, and: CANCER / RECOVERY TIPS

Right now, I am participating in an international creative project  – #the100dayproject –  with a practice from that art therapy group. So for me, this is the season of 100 Days of Mandalas and Gratefulness.

I am also currently going through my journal notes. The idea is to put an e-book together. Parallel to that, I am working on a series of articles with tips that help to get through chemotherapy and to deal with the fear and frustration that is caused by cancer.

The motivation for both is to share my experience and especially all the advice I received and collected, to help others to get through the time of illness, and to recover and find a new balance afterwards.

For more about that topic visit this extra page, it also includes some reflective journal notes: Cancer / Recovery Tips 

And if you want to know how things develop, and receive updates and links when the articles are online, subscribe to my newsletter.

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MORE:

  • Current projects and news: News Page
  • Fav pieces in words and images: Best Of
  • Contact: Dorothee.Lang@blueprint21.de

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