A new starter from New Zealand
After a week in the trenches getting to know us and how we do things, we sat Ben Lange down to ask some important questions.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and what led you to writing?
I’m from Auckland, which is New Zealand’s biggest city (but not the capital), and I’ve been living here in London for a little over a year now
I’ve always been a big fan of words and read loads of books when I was a kid. I was even Head Librarian at school, which is about as cool as it sounds. Writing was an easy way to take that interest and turn it into a skill, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.
What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed in the UK?
The most obvious difference is the scale of everything. New Zealand’s population is just under 5 million people and London alone is more than 8 million, so everything’s bigger and busier. It means there’s a lot more to see and do, but definitely took a bit of adjusting to.
Apart from that, it’s mainly little things like not being able to see the ocean every day. And having to adjust to Americano coffee because not many places over here do a long black — you don’t know what you’re missing.
You also have to get used to answering the same questions quite often: “Are you Australian?”, “Do you like Lord of the Rings/Flight of the Conchords?”, “Why on earth would you leave New Zealand?”
Why on earth would you leave New Zealand?
New Zealand’s always home, but it can be a bit of a bubble. It’s a wonderful place to live, but so is London! And there are a lot more opportunities here when it comes to writing — particularly when you get to work with enormous brands on content that will be seen by thousands and thousands of people.
Besides, it’s only 25 hours on a plane to get back for a visit.
What have you been doing since you arrived?
I was working as a content writer back home, with a big focus on SEO, digital marketing and research-based articles. Luckily, I was able to keep quite a few of my clients on a freelance basis when I moved over here.
Having the flexibility to work from home and set my own hours was great in terms of getting set up in the UK and having time to travel. Plus, it financed my exorbitant lifestyle of Brick Lane vegetarian curries, going to gigs and watching football matches — either in the pub or from the terraces.
After about a year though, I started to miss the hustle and bustle of working as part of a team. Which is how I ended up here.
What drew you to outré creative? Apart from our sparkling personalities, wit, and good looks?
I really wanted to be able to work across a wide range of content types and for clients from lots of different industries.
I was also quite keen on working more closely with designers. It’s a lot more rewarding to be part of the entire creative process, rather than just handing off a piece of copy and never seeing it again.
outré creative ticked all the right boxes. Plus, I can walk to work, which I’m told is a privilege I shouldn’t take for granted.
Tell us something surprising about yourself
I can’t ride a bike. I never learned and now I’ve developed a bit of a complex about it.
What are you known among your friends for?
Being a weird bike-hater.
Do you have a favorite writer?
It’s too hard to pick just one. I like writers that mess around with the ‘rules’ of how you’re supposed to put words on a page. Sometimes that’s just being creative with unusual uses of set conventions or stereotypes, but can also mean getting whacky with word choice, formatting, structure, and style.
One of my favorite writers is Donald Barthelme, and his book Snow White has a survey halfway through. He asks the reader whether or not they’re enjoying the book and if humans should have more shoulders.
It’s all about keeping things fresh and interesting.
How about a favorite word?
My favorite word is bed, because it looks like a bed. I can’t think of any other word that looks like what it is.
I’m also a big fan of New Zealand slang. Chur. Sweet as. Ay/Eh. Yeah-nah. Chocka. Gizza.
I didn’t make any of those up.
Talking about New Zealand too much.
Finally, what do you expect from the next few months? Any predictions?
Life here is fast-paced. I’m looking forward to spending time getting to know as many clients as possible, becoming familiar with their unique voices, and working with the rest of the team on some top-notch content.
I think the next few months will fly by!
And Liverpool will win the league.