call for submissions: work

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Girl Love will run a series of articles on work. While we’re focusing a lot on un/employment, you can also look at unpaid women’s work, such as housework or emotional labour. If you’re not sure if your idea fits what we’re looking for, please get in touch and we can chat.

Send your pieces to girllovezine@hotmail.com and put “work” as the subject. Your work will go up on the blog and help us share advice + experiences.

thank you xx

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Job Interviews

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For a while, I wanted to interview people as a job. I read every interview in the Guardian Magazine and went to see Lynn Barber talk in the Brighton Festival. She wasn’t very helpful.

I had this idea that I could interview people about their jobs, to help me decide what I wanted to do when I was older. I was going to publish them in a zine, in pairs. The spring I was 16, I interviewed a florist.

I just walked into her shop and spoke to her for about 20 minutes. She was a bit annoyed about it, but I feel she was annoyed about most things in life so I wasn’t scared. The notes sat on my desk for a year til I typed them up. I remembered almost everything she said anyway so that was easy.

I published it in a different, new zine, alongside some spoof articles about politics and a long polemic piece I’d written. People asked me if I’d made up the florist too.

Since then I’ve been stuck for about a year at the same start of the process of making a new zine: thinking about it but not actually writing anything down. I want to interview a guy who paints lines on the road, and a policeman, and an architect. I keep walking past line-painters working at night but I don’t have my questions written down so I don’t go over and talk to them. I guess I’m a bit scared too.

I talk to people all the time normally, because I’m really genuinely interested in their lives. Every detail. I spoke to a guy the other day who put back books on the shelves in Senate House Library. One day I think I’ll get over it and write some questions for a line painter. Maybe next week.

by Pearl Ahrens

Death to Perfectionism: Adventures in Interviewing

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I think what has been a struggle for me with interviewing isn’t a lack of any particular skill, but rather perfectionism.

On a practical level, I agree with all the tips given by the other girls in this cool feature – take your phone and use the record app if you’re meeting in person, so you can rewind and get an exact quote if you need too, but also write brief notes as they speak, so you have a quick, visual record of what struck you as important that you can use as a guide when it comes time to write and structure your piece. Have enough water and tea. Aim to let them talk around ¾ of the time.

What’s not been spoken about so much yet, but what can be really powerful in how good an interview you have, is the psychological level of it. I think the kicker of interviewing is learning to stop referring constantly to the imaginary more qualified interviewer in your head.

clara
This can happen with anyone at all you’re interviewing, but I think it especially becomes a problem if they’re someone really cool.

I’ll give you an example – a few months ago I got the chance to do a 45-minute in-person interview with Peaches at her record labels office in West London. I cannot emphasise this enough – I had literally never conducted one single interview with one single human prior to this in my life. Getting this offer sounded as crazy and incongruous to me as it reads on the page.

The boy I sit next too at work saw it on the mailing list for a music magazine that he sometimes writes for. An email got sent to all the writers: ‘is anyone free to interview Peaches, we’ve been offered a 45-minute slot on this date.’

He told me about it because I’d mentioned the week before I’d been listening to her lately. I made some joke about him giving me the piece instead of taking it for himself. I was just goofing around; at the time, I wasn’t listed as a writer for this magazine – or indeed for any magazine – as well as just generally not being qualified in any way. To my mind it was the equivalent of saying, “hey – why don’t you let me fly that jet for ya buddy?”

But after I said it, he said, “okay sure, I mean I’m not that interested in this one, so I could write to the editor recommending you instead if one of the main writers hasn’t already taken it.”

I went along with this plan half-disassociated as though I was playing a character,- imagine if I was a person who did this kind of thing hahaha. Imagine if I was the kind of ballsy person who wrote back to this editor without over-apologising and using a load of caveat’s about this being my first time, and if he wouldn’t mind giving me a chance.

peaches

Anyway, it actually came good and I was dispatched to interview Peaches.

What made me almost not go to the interview, and what almost made me be colder or curter with Peaches than I wanted to be was a defensive belief that I didn’t deserve to be there.

I like her – I’d been listening to one of the 2 songs I’d previously known by her the week before when I spoke to the guy at work – but I didn’t have an idea of, oh I don’t know, the music scene she was a part of. I’d never felt compelled to see her live. I wasn’t a super fan. I just knew she liked to play with a lot of super-sexual imagery, she had this odd stage name and I liked the song Diddle my Skittle. I like to write too, and to chat to people, but I’d never been published in a magazine before. I didn’t have some academic interest in different forms of music journalism.

To my mind, there were so many people, so much better qualified, with so much of a longer history of enthusiasm than me who could go. In some part of me, I was waiting to be caught out, by the imaginary all-qualified interviewer McGee.

I thought about not going through with it. There is a fucked up comfort in telling yourself you never stood a chance anyway.

The older I get though, the more I think that it’s a real skill to let other people reject you. That sounds strange but I mean it. Its so easy to reject yourself first. It’s a power thing. To think there’s no way you’ll get as good as you want to be by the deadline for a project, so not try it. Think there’s no way you’ll be the best version of yourself – the version you’d want to meet Peaches, in time, so you don’t volunteer any of your own opinions when you’re talking about her.

I think it’s brave to think, ‘well, I’ll hand SOMETHING in, and in doing so, I will have to live with the risk it might be rejected.’ It gives you a strange kind of power to acknowledge that there are some things you don’t have the power over. People might reject you. Your work might not be good enough yet. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I honestly think the people who know how to give up on the perfect version of life in their head are the ones who spend the most time making their actual life better.

It’s also good to remember that while you might not know a lot about, sticking with my example, electronic music, you might know a lot about riot grrrl, and zines, and Aston Villa football club. My point is, editors don’t always want a certain perspective. If your main love is pop music but you’re sent to interview a footballer, it doesn’t mean you’ll be bad it it. It could be interesting and humanising to view footballers through the lens of their favourite pop songs. Just whatever you do, don’t wait to be a different person than what you are now to start doing it.

P.S. you can read my Peaches interview here
Clara is now a regular interviewer for The 405

How To: Interview, Part 2

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In How To: Interview, Part 1, I asked Vicki, Lizzie + Josie how they went about interviewing people. They gave advice on the logistics of the interview, building your confidence + personal interview styles.

Here, in Part 2, Bridget Hamilton answers the same questions.

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How do I find interesting people and get in contact with them? 

Social media is your best friend! Search for interesting people on Twitter or Instagram, or put a message out on Facebook. Sometimes the hashtag #journorequest gets a good response.

What if they live far away? 

Don’t worry about that at all – email is a brilliant tool and I’m sure some of the best interviews have been done by just sending over a set of questions. You could always try Skype or even Facebook chat if you wanted to try a more conversational approach.

How do I record what they are saying? 

I invested in what’s called a ‘Zoom Mic’ when I started my Radio degree. It was only £80 and it is one of my most faithful tools! Saying that, I don’t have an iphone but I know lots of people who collect audio for the BBC using a decent recording app, so it’s totally possible to get high quality audio that way too.

What questions should I ask? What do people want to read?

God. If I knew that I would sell it for a serious fee! Whilst it might sound hedonistic and a bit backwards, I think if YOU want to write something, and you do it in a compelling and passionate way, people will want to read it. It’s also obviously a good idea to keep your ear to the ground for any breaking news or developing issues relating to the kind of things you’re into, so as an example I follow lots of other feminist blogs and websites on Twitter and so on. Keep a notepad by your bed, or toilet, or handbag, and write down absolutely any ideas you have. You never know when they might develop into a story.

What if I sound stupid in the interview? 

Unless you literally call them John instead of Jim or make a ridiculous comment, I don’t think it’s possible. If you don’t know something about them, just ask it in a question.

And when I type it up, how should I edit it? Is it more important that I leave their words untouched or that it reads well?

This very much depends on what you normally put on your blog or just personal preference, to be honest. I think people expect a certain level of tidying up after you’ve interviewed them, but if you’ve changed something considerably and you’re worried about it, I would always just go back and check with the person. I’m 100% sure they won’t mind, and will actually be grateful you asked for their input.

Bridget runs verbalremedy.co.uk

 

The Periodical + related positivity

This afternoon I came home to find some lovely post from Pearl, including little zines on period positivity she picked up and passed on to me. I’ve now been introduced to the great work of Chella Quint, a Sheffield-based comedian, designer, artist + education researcher, who is building the #periodpositive campaign.

“She accepts that people may both love and hate periods, but tries to unpick how big an influence the media plays in these attitudes. She aims for ‘period neutral’, using a positive approach.”

chellaquint

The Periodical

Despite the name, it is a one off zine. I had a lot of time-pressured fun making, in time for Period Pride Day on Feb 18th.

Including:

  • anecdotes
  • self – care tips
  • cryptic crossword (thanks to Psiren!!)
  • vegan brownie recipe
  • puns
  • an essay i didn’t write
  • a menstrual calendar

It was intended as a fun project and a way for us connect with each other + destroy the shame around periods.

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Buy a copy:

Get in touch with me via our facebook. I will give you my bank deets + you will give me your address.
It’s £1 for printing + postage + time spent trying to figure out the risograph

thank you thank you thank you, Hufi xx

hufiperiodical

How To: Interview, Part 1

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Interviews are great. It’s a collaborative and social way to write about an issue. Having conversations with people is the best way to learn and start thinking about things. Interviews are engaging because they invite you into someone else’s thinking process. They allow people to represent themselves and their work in their own language, rather than being written about.

Girl Love is all about empowerment, self-representation, collaboration, so I thought let’s get more interviews. But how?

How do I find interesting people and get in contact with them? What if they live far away? How do I record what they are saying? What questions should I ask? What do people want to read? What if I sound stupid in the interview? And when I type it up, how should I edit it? Is it more important that I leave their words untouched or that it reads well? HELP.

I send these questions around and 3 brilliant interviewers shared their advice with us.

vickiVicki Maitland

  1. Research. A little bit goes a long way and it’ll help you fill any awkward pauses.
  2. Plan some questions. Figure out the vital information you’re going to need when it comes to writing up your interview and write it down. This will help give your interview some structure, too.
  3. Listen. People love to talk about themselves, so don’t be afraid to let the interview go off course for awhile – you might end up with extra information!
  4. Pen and paper, dictaphone, camera – whichever medium you choose, make sure you know how it works (check the mic is on, etc) and be confident with it. Phone interviews will often require the pen and paper method, so don’t be afraid to ask the person to slow down if they’re talking too fast.
  5. Write it up quickly. Even if it’s not the finished article, writing up whilst the conversation is fresh in your brain will make sure you get the most out of your work.
You can find her blog here.

lizzie

Lizzie Masterton

I think interviews can be a really great way of exchanging ideas and forging connections with people, and can be valuable for both people taking part.

Personally, I prefer informal interviews: perhaps set up a recorder and then start up a dialogue with the other person, keeping a few questions in mind, but mainly letting the conversation flow naturally. Make sure you are in a comfortable and not-too-loud setting, with plenty of water and/or cups of tea. If you are both interested in each other’s work and ideas, then there should be nothing to worry about.

It’s a good idea to record things on a small dictaphone or your phone, so you don’t have to stress about remembering things, also it is far easier to transcribe and edit the conversation afterwards. You might even gain a fresh perspective on the topics discussed.

It’s an interesting question of how much/whether to edit the dialogue. Generally I think it is fine to edit and paraphrase things, as long as you ask the other person for permission and then check that they approve the final text. This way you can reorder things and ensure the interview is concise and well-structured.

I think the main tips for interviewing someone are: research their work beforehand and come prepared, respect them and listen to what they are saying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

You can read her recent interview with Katie Tindle about art, accessibility + health here.

josie

Josie Tothill

You don’t need to find interesting people. You already know interesting people. If you wanna interview someone about global capitalism, ask your mate what they had for tea last night. Then ask them why. Then ask them why again. If you want to interview specific people however, the key is asking. Ask everyone you know who it is they know. Find emails online: ask as many of them as you can, and some will respond. Be prepared to work on their terms, going to their area or work, or conducting an email interview.

Which brings me onto what if they live far away. Email works and Skype is amazing, you can get software that will film your screen but idk what it is. Use any sound recorder? I borrow them from college; ask around maybe you have a friend who has or can get one?

Ask difficult questions. They give you the best answers. I’ve been interviewing community artists, asking among other questions: what is art?
So long as you smile to let them know they’re cool, they will be. I also included a fun, easy-as-they-wanna-make-it question to balance things out: why did the chicken cross the road?
Ask questions about their answers: it shows you’re listening and makes them say more detailed things. Ask the person you are interviewing what they want to talk about and then ask them to talk about it.

Don’t show off your knowledge in the questions. No one cares, you sound like a nob and it can be intimidating for the interviewee. If you think listeners need context, ask the person you are interviewing to do it because they will do it better. There are so many people, there will be someone out there interested in whatever you want to ask, the difficulty is in finding them.

If you are working for a specific audience could you get them to suggest questions. You won’t sound stupid so long as you don’t do the thing I told you not to do. No one is interested in you, they are interested in the person you are interviewing.

Good luck have fun!

 

Keep an eye for more interview advice in Part 2 + let us know at girllovezine@hotmail.com if you fancy doing an interview with someone you think is cool, for the blog or the print copy of the zine