Freelance writer, journalist and media instructor Dara Colwell joined SENSE a few months ago. I invited her to share her interests and stories with us, and to talk about what moves her in life. Her answer was as expressive and engaging as the ones that follow in this interview.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from?
A professional writer for 23 years, I hail originally from Los Angeles, though I’ve lived in Europe most of my adult life. (My brother has lived in Tokyo just as long, so our parents did a stellar job instilling us with wanderlust!) I earned my Master’s degree from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and worked for several years as an investigative reporter at Metro San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley. I eventually became a freelance writer, writing about the environment, politics, culture and the arts in New York City, and later in Amsterdam. I currently teach professional writing and storytelling techniques at the University of Groningen. My very first job after graduating was teaching English as a second language, so teaching comes naturally to me – especially teaching what I love: writing!
What brought you to the Netherlands?
It’s cliché but true: a Dutchie wooed and brought me here. Our story would make an excellent, unpredictable screenplay and the tagline would have to include something about persevering against all odds. I came for love, and stayed for it, and the bonus was falling in love with Amsterdam, where I was lucky to have written for (the now defunct) Amsterdam Weekly – as writing about the city’s arts and entertainment scene helped me explore it. Living in the Netherlands has given me a quality of life I couldn’t have imagined while growing up in the US and I am deeply appreciative.
Do you get on with the Dutch language?
Yes, as my partner is Dutch. I have translated several books from Dutch to English, cleaning up the ‘Dunglish’ to make the text sing. The books are ‘Becoming Whole’, about birth, death, language, karma and transpersonal therapy (yet to be published); ‘The White Field’, about a life lived in Tibet 3,000 years ago (yet to be published); and ‘Free Up and Play’, originally conceived in English but later published in Dutch, about overcoming stage fright using non-violent communication (NVC).
Can you describe your current professional activities?
Besides teaching professional and feature writing, I am currently helping a client conceptualize, write and edit a book about effective leadership in today’s business world. I generally take on diverse writing and editing projects, from revising websites to writing articles about corporate wellness. Everything interests me, though the more creative, the better.
What are your hobbies? Can you recommend some books?
Cycling, cooking, making collages, gardening/permaculture, immersing myself in nature, and writing screenplays. I am a history nut and currently revamping a screenplay that takes place in the 1890s.
The books I am currently reading: Jay Heinrichs’ ‘Thank You for Arguing’, about persuasion and oratory techniques; Alain de Botton’s ‘The Art of Travel’, whose title is self-explanatory; and finally Paul Mason’s ‘Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being’, which I just started, and looks at what being human means in today’s digitized world.
How did you hear about SENSE and why did you decide to join?
I have known SENSE for some time from fellow writers/editors. I decided to join to expand my network, learn more about who is involved, and hopefully, find more work. I am eager to network, meet fellow writers and editors to talk shop, and I am always open for job opportunities. I am full of stories and eager to hear yours, professionally or otherwise.
Blog post by: Paula Arellano Geoffroy