The Writing Desk | Claudia Benetello
Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of this quirky and esoteric feature I’ve started here and welcome to The Writing Desk. We’ll be talking to writers, copywriters, poets, designers, marketers, photographers and all sorts of creative folk.
Now, imagine I’m about to introduce you to an auditorium, filled with the smiling faces of folks fuelled by caffeine and an eagerness to learn. What would I say?
“Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce…
Claudia Benetello of Dropinka®.
Italian communications professional wearing more than one hat:
copywriter for both origination and transcreation;
translator and interpreter for the music industry;
Here’s the part where we’d sit down and try and look comfortable next to the microphones. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Can you name the business book that’s always on your desk? (I’m talking about the one that’s covered in pencil marks, coffee stains and has turned down corners…)
La parola immaginata by Annamaria Testa. She’s a stellar copywriter and a huge source of inspiration.
What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?
I like Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign because it conveys an important message for women and society at large – something very few brands tend to do. The Sketches film, in particular, is absolutely stunning: Dove Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think
“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?
Be honest. If you try too hard, people are going to notice.
If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?
Don’t let self-doubt bring you down. And read KesselsKramer’s Advertising For People Who Don’t Like Advertising right away!
Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?
Complete silence. To be honest, I did try listening to the ‘Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos’, but I seem to be immune to the Mozart Effect…
What are your top three novels of all time – and why?
- Der Tod in Venedig by Thomas Mann. I come from the Venice area and Mann’s vivid descriptions of a misty, melancholic town past its prime really resonated with me.
- Se questo è un uomo by Primo Levi (actually a memoir, rather than a novel). Most Italians are forced to read it at high school. I only got hold of it in my thirties, at an age when I could fully realise the tragedy of the events that Levi recounts (being deported to Auschwitz) as well as appreciate his writing style. Possibly the best prose I’ve ever read in my language.
- 1984 by George Orwell. A masterpiece which still provides food for thought.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?
Homepage copy for the world’s largest oil and gas company. After reading so much about the ‘Put a tiger in your tank’ headline, it was such an honour to be able to write for that very brand!
What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.
A yummy ice cream – pistachio and dark chocolate. I have a sweet tooth indeed.
Who was your teenage crush?
Bono from U2. I was absolutely obsessed with him. In 1993, after going to a U2 gig in Verona, I flew to Dublin to attend an English language course and go on a pilgrimage in Killiney, where Bono had a house, with many other U2 fans from all over the world.
Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
I don’t think I can. I love eating, and I do eat out quite often, but I just forget what I ate… All I remember is more of a feeling, an atmosphere, rather than the actual courses.
What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt?
I don’t drink any alcohol.
If I were to give you a private jet, David Attenborough as a tour guide and a month off work – all expenses paid – where would you go and what or who would you write about – and why?
Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica. I’ve always been fascinated with the South Pole and its surreal scenery. Just ice, seals and penguins. And silence.
What’s in your pockets?
Nothing – I tend to use rather large bags instead.
Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?
I always write on my computer, but I sometimes need to make notes on paper too.
Do you read any blogs or magazines about writing? (And I mean read, not just subscribe to and delete/leave on desk and recycle?)
Yes, both in English and Italian:
- Andy Maslen’s Copywriting Academy Blog
- Luisa Carrada’s Il mestiere di scrivere
- Annamaria Testa’s Nuovo e utile – teorie e pratiche della creatività
Tea – or coffee? What’s your poison?
Tea! Black tea, two cups a day to keep me going.
Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?
It’s a blue mug with a quote from Voltaire: ‘I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health’.
What was your most adored children’s book? And character?
Richard Scarry’s Il libro delle parole (Best Word Book Ever in English). I would read it over and over again, I just loved his drawings and enjoyed learning words with his cute animals.
Your favourite word?
I’d say it’s ‘batuffolo’, I just love the sound of it. It means ‘wad’ (as in ‘cotton wad’) but it can be used figuratively to refer to any fluffy little thing… like my cat, for instance!
Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?
All calques from the English, like ‘iconico’ and ‘performante’ – ew!
Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?
Browsing online. I buy books on the Internet multiple times a week.
Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?
I work with words, and I love this song that talks about words:
“Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
‘Enjoy The Silence’ by Depeche Mode is one of my favourite tracks of all time, and Martin Lee Gore is one of the best songwriters ever.
Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.
Back in the days, it used to be The Prodigy. Today, I’d say Daft Punk.
Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?
No, nothing in particular really!
What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?
I never work on Sundays, so today I’m writing an academic paper on a transcreation case study based on this speech I gave last year: Transcreation as Creation of a New Original: a Norton™ Case Study
Can you describe the last photograph you took?
My cat Omar. He likes to snuggle on a blanket in my bed, but in this particular shot he has a stretched paw and is ‘wearing’ the blanket like a cloak. He looks like a superhero to me!
What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?
Creativity can be trained.
What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?
Last year I embarked on a pet project – a webzine called Face The Music, which unfortunately I had to give up.
What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?
“To write is human, to edit is divine.”
Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?
Roger Sterling Jr., because he’s such a charming scoundrel.
Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it?
Possibly Io sono Li by Andrea Segre. Low-budget but very poetic film set in Chioggia, my hometown, which shows how difficult it is for a young Chinese woman to be accepted in a narrow-minded community.
Which book or books is/are by your bed today?
I prefer non-fiction over novels (shame on me!), and I’m about to finish reading Through the Language Glass: Why The World Looks Different In Other Languages by Guy Deutscher. Anyone with a true passion for foreign languages and cultures should buy it!
Who was or is your greatest teacher?
My English teacher at high school. She got me even more passionate about the language than I already was. I owe her a lot.
Who is your favourite artist?
I’d say Caravaggio. His use of lighting is unmistakable. Plus he captures human emotions and physical states like no other!
Where do you like to work best – is it at a desk, in an office or in a coffee shop? And would you send us a picture of where the magic happens?
At the desk in my office, where I also have a furry little muse to inspire me!
And finally, where can this caffeine-fuelled audience find you?
Pretty much everywhere!
My website: www.dropinka.com/en
My LinkedIn profile: linkedin.com/in/claudiabenetello
My Twitter handle: @dropinka
Grazie mille, Claudia! 😀