April 3, 2020

Copywriter Brooke Randel Co-Creates a Family Memoir with Golda Indig—Her Grandma and a Holocaust Survivor

What are you working on—on the side?

For the last few years, I’ve been co-writing a memoir with my grandma Golda Indig titled Also Here. My grandma is a Holocaust survivor who, after being held in three Nazi concentration camps, never spoke about it. Then one day, she started telling me I should write her story. It came out of nowhere for me. I was a copywriter at a small agency in Philly at the time, creating scripts and billboards, brochures about sausage casings, that sort of thing. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. When I finally agreed to sit down with her, I was blown away by how much I hadn’t known. The horrors she faced, the depth of her courage and pain, how raw it all still was—it stunned me. I started doing research to fill in the gaps in her story and came to learn even more. For the first time, I could trace my family’s history and see the ways in which it has shaped us, our habits, who we are and how we function. The legacy of trauma is something we as a culture have just started scraping the surface on. In Also Here, my grandma shares how she sprinted, hid and stole her way to survival while I tell the story of what happened next. We are looking for a publisher now.

When I’m not working on the book, I write fiction and creative non-fiction, and am a reader for the Chestnut Review. No matter how different the style or subject matter may be, it all influences my copywriting and vice versa.

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

I wake up early and write before work. Sometimes, I’ll also write after work, at home on the weekends and occasionally on the bus between the two. The bus is an amazing place to reflect, observe and get ideas.

Part of the joy of writing for myself is that I have no deadlines or clients. So there’s no pressure to crank something out. I just write—and write and write and write until I have something worth re-writing.

Why have a side project?

Ironically, or perhaps hypocritically, I’ve actually written against the side project before. Too much celebration of it can make side projects feel like a mandatory for anyone in a creative field. There’s more to life than working, even creative work, and that includes sitting under trees, eating ice cream cones before they melt and teaching your nephew your favorite song.

But then, here I am, with a side project. Call it cognitive dissonance.

The reason I write outside of my copywriting work is because I enjoy it. Because I have extra creative energy to expend. Because I want to say something a little more complex than a four-word headline. Because, in the case of my memoir, my grandma kept asking me until I caved. For anyone debating whether or not to pick up a side project, I’d say don’t. Not unless it fills you more than it empties you, giving you something your regular creative work never could.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Brooke Randel.

Donating = Appreciating: Design Feast is on Patreon!
Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you find delight and motivation from the hundreds of interviews, including event write-ups, at Design Feast, please consider becoming a supporting Patron with a recurring monthly donation.

Help keep Design Feast going and growing by visiting my Patreon page where you can watch a short intro video plus view my goals and reward tiers—starting at $1 per month.