Nina Klaff (London, U.K.) reflects on what she’s learned working full time on P01nt this month.
One office, two people, four weeks, sixty cups of coffee, and 120 of Boris’ sugary treats later, our month of full time p01nting has come to an end. We have taken the lift down for the last time, handed in the keys, and emerged into the sun of Amsterdam’s canals – we’d almost forgotten what they looked like.
We wanted to have a little look back before we part ways for a couple of months, with Boris going on various different luxury holidays and me continuing the hard grind to the top with Impressive Internships and other Responsible Adult Things he wouldn’t understand.
We started off slowly, publishing articles we’d had in our treasure trove of a backlog for a while (sorry about that). We gradually started reaching out to people on social media, finding writing groups in different countries and just introducing ourselves and the project. Boris went a little overboard, as is his nature, and got himself blocked from Facebook for a while. Like the addict he was, he begged me for forty eight hours to allow him to use mine. I reluctantly agreed, and as expected, he read all my messages. I know this, because I put in place a test: I employed an army of allies to text me profanities about him throughout the day. They happily obliged, and he gradually got more and more offended, thus unveiling his complete disregard for my privacy. Anyway, he eventually got my account blocked too, and we had to resign ourselves to other methods of gaining traction, like shouting out the window of our office that we’re looking for contributors. Turns out, it doesn’t work as well.
While all of this was going on, I was scoping things out on Instagram, using the explore page and randomly tailored hashtags to find interesting people doing interesting things. The response was always positive. There are so many people out there doing so many different amazing things. The world is ablaze with creativity and, all jokes aside, spending this month gathering what we could of its embers has been a totally inspiring journey.
Boris went through some kind of creative crisis in which he neglected our entire brand aesthetic and decided he had become the kind of guy who smokes weed under the UV light his mum installed above his fishtank, making designs to reflect this. I kept quiet, biting my tongue, suppressing the urge to shout “KEEP IT GRAPHIC MINIMAL” with each streak of fluorescent colour he added to his designs. I knew full well that there would be other, potentially more important battles to fight, such as that of whether he should be allowed to sit next to me when everyone knows it’s nicer to sit in front. So I waited (im)patiently until he came down from whatever ledge he had been smoking on. It only took until yesterday, but we got there. The original design has been restored. Thanks for sticking with us through this:
& even this:
It’s been a difficult time.
Speaking of things that went wrong, we both aimed to write more than we have. A lot more. I mean, I wrote three pieces (this one counts too!) but Boris only wrote one, and it wasn’t even that good if you ask me. Bla bla bla, I’m a man, I get sad, boohoo.
Okay, so he just read over my shoulder and got offended by that dig and started writing something himself.
He’s now slumped over his laptop, crying, “why am I such a bad writer?” Good grief, I can’t work in these conditions. I wonder how much energy I’ve wasted appeasing his ego.
It turns out I’m much more creatively productive by candlelight in the early hours of the morning, when I can be alone and at peace and there isn’t a sugar-riddled Dutch giant there to ask me which shoes he should buy for the eighth time that month.
Honestly, it’s been such a thrill for both of us. We’ve received submissions from over twenty different countries (many are still in the backlog – good things come to those who wait), and have had such a varied array of content: from Berlin-based Lithuanian Julija’s studies of water, to Nigerian Akinola’s beautiful poem dedicated to those killed by the Fulani herdsmen, to our French friend Ellen’s Ode to the Piano, to my South African Dad’s piece on memory and his mother, to British Jude’s beautiful photography of London’s punk scene today, we really never know where we’ll be taken next.
That’s the beauty of this project. As much as we enjoy approaching people we think are interesting, we love it even more when people come to us with an idea. The fact that people, sometime even ones we’ve never met, are trusting us with their work and words is more than an honour. We’re in this constant creative cycle of support, love, and simple humanity and we are loving it.
Lest we forget, underneath all these big ideas of Global Community, Platform for Voices, and Human Communication lie two measly students. We were given this opportunity and time by our university. The work we’ve done this month is what’s called a Community Project, which will count towards our degrees, and I think that’s pretty cool. Sure, the stuff we learn in our lectures and course readers is important (and has undoubtedly influenced this project hugely), but honing kind of practical, professional knowledge is something else entirely. The way they’re measuring our progress is by asking us to write a report on our time. As I’ve been mulling it all over anyway, here are some things I’ve learned that aren’t really appropriate for an academic reflection paper.
- People are cool. Like really, really cool. The world is so full of inspiration and creativity and it’s yours and all of ours for the taking.
- Gender equality is a lie. There is evidence of inherent physiological difference between men and women, as proven by the fact that Boris consumes two croissants, two muffins (sometimes chocolate, sometimes not), two sandwiches, and a pot of hummus, all washed down with a litre of juice, before lunch every day and still looks like a beanstalk. My morning piece of fruit pales in comparison. It’s just unfair.
- People don’t laugh enough. Apparently, children laugh over 400 times a day, while adults keep it at about 15-20 times a day. When do we lose our joy? No doubt, Boris and I have doubled the kids’ average and more this month. Man it felt good. I’ll admit that maybe doing the Ministry of Silly Walks in the office corridor doesn’t necessarily count as productivity, but it definitely gave us more energy to keep going.
- If you have an idea, if you have something you want to do, run with it. Just do it. A year and a half ago, when p01nt was but a twinkle in our eyes, we never imagined the kind of content we’d be getting, the kind of connections we’d be making, and that we’d have our own bloody office complete with a coffee machine, cupboard, and our very own half-functioning wheely chairs.
- Staring at a screen is really tiring. It’s so, so bad for you to just sit at a desk all day and if you don’t take breaks and go outside for a bit you end up coming out at the end of the day looking and feeling like someone has just run you down with a lawn mower – speaking from experience here.
- Routine is boring but also comforting. When you’re working in the same place, with the same people (by this I mean Boris and his 47 alter egos), the days start to blur into each other. It took a while to get used to it, but we built up a nice rhythm of meeting at the same time each day, cycling to the shops to buy breakfast and lunch, carrying onto the office where we would update each other on the 12 hours we’d spent apart over coffee and then work and cycle home. By the end of it, I began to feel cradled by the rhythm. I might even miss that stability.
- Working for yourself is a dream. Because no one is the boss here (except me), I never got in trouble if I was five minutes late. We could go out and brainstorm ideas while overlooking the water whenever we wanted. We were so, so lucky to have this office space to come to every day, but honestly, the beauty of this kind of thing is we could’ve worked from anywhere. I could’ve commissioned articles from a beach in Bali while sipping on some fresh pineapple juice all month long and you’d have been none the wiser.
- Earning money is good. For our sake, of course, as students it would be nice to be able to pay bills on time and avoid having the bailiffs sending angry letters in Dutch that you can’t understand (my truth three months running sad!), but also because we would love to be able to compensate people for their work. This is something we’re working on. Promise.
- Armpits are erogenous zones for some people. I will be not naming names. Nothing further should ever be said on the matter.
- The final, and most important rule of them all: DO NOT, under any circumstance, EVER put plant-based milk alternatives in the office coffee machine. This is a crime of the highest degree and perpetrators will be hunted down by the office mob for public shaming.
In any case, our holiday in adulthood has been really fun. We have loved almost every second of it. Thank you again for sticking with us as we’ve been figuring ourselves and this magazine out.
In one of our meetings with our supervisor, as we were struggling to explain exactly what we wanted out of this, he told us not to dwell on it. That so many projects take a while to find their feet and that the important thing is that we have a really vibrant, creative, contagious energy between us. He said that just because it’s taken on the form of a magazine for now, doesn’t mean that that’s it. He reminded us that we could use it to make anything we wanted further down the line. The possibilities are endless.
Boris is quite set on us starting a comedy show. I’m not sure he’s funny enough to collaborate with on something like that, but watch this space.
Nina Klaff (London)