OCA PEOPLE: ZHANNA SHVYDKAYA

Tell us about yourself and your activity / work

I am a writer and blogger from Saint-Petersburg and my credo is to create beauty and awaken mindfulness. 

By profession, I am a journalist and public relations specialist. Working in the field of communication, I contribute to the advancement of science, education and professional communities, and manage federal and international projects. 

My working life is therefore a combination of the seemingly disparate skills of management and creative writing. I have been in love with the printed word for a long time and during this twenty-year romance, have published hundreds of interviews, news stories, articles, public posts and of course, short stories, essays and novels.

Do you have any personal project that you would like to talk about?

My literary journey began unusually, with a personality crisis. Success in my career flamed professional ambitions, but conquering peak after peak brought only temporary satisfaction and each time I wanted more. This continued until at the age of thirty-seven, I experienced a complete emotional burnout. In order to understand the underlying reasons, I had to look within myself; a difficult and painful process.

As a rule, much of what is contained within us, is never revealed to the outside world. It’s not talked about because it’s painful, because it’s scary, because it contradicts the ‘good’ persona we wish, and are trained, to promote. Writing down my thoughts and feelings helped me survive. Autobiographical stories appeared and then, chapters and books were born, which later became the decalogue “Gravity of Life”. This is currently the main literary project which I am developing in Russia and abroad.

The first book of the decalogy, is an autobiographical novel entitled ‘The Faceting’. Published in 2019, twelve years after it was written, it was a finalist in the Eurasian Creative Guild’s Open Eurasia Contest, and in 2020, voted the Best Book of the Year in an international literary contest in Germany.

The second book, ‘The Metamorphosis’ which continues my story from childhood into youth, will be released in 2020. If childhood is the starting point of self-knowledge, then youth, is the very first frontier of rethinking values, personal growth and a deep internal metamorphosis, all of which are decisive factors in how we approach the future.

Have you taken part in the events of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London)?

Participation in the Open Eurasia Literary competition in 2019 was the starting point in the international promotion of both me as an author and my novel. From my own experience I can vouch that the path was difficult, but effective. Having submitted ‘The Faceting’ to the competition, I did not sit back and wait for the results. Instead, I took an active stance in promoting my work through social networks and by introducing readers to new passages on a daily basis, initiated discussion and ultimately, votes.  By the time the results of the competition were announced, I had expanded my circle of readers several times over and having formed a pool of subscribers interested in my work, launched my own Yandex Zen channel.

What does the Eurasian Creative Guild mean to you, and how did it affect your creativity ?

My acquaintance with the Eurasian Creative Guild has been an incredibly interesting and useful experience. It’s like climbing a staircase to new horizons; it broadens your perception and suddenly, the world’s borders disappear. Every time you communicate with someone new, you learn something, and if that person is also creative, a whole new universe opens up in front of you. The Guild is a global community, embracing different cultures, different creative practices, different literary genres, and by welcoming participants of different ages, the younger generation’s new, bright and courageous energy is complemented by the elder’s wisdom, moderation and depth of experience.

Another important aspect of the Guild is that within the framework of classical projects, new forms arise which by encouraging collaboration between creative talents, give birth to exciting and innovative combinations of poetry, prose, music and art.

I am also greatly impressed by the Guild’s endeavours to share the work of Asian authors with a European readership, thereby contributing to both the convergence of cultures and the preservation of national traditions amongst former compatriots. As a creative writer and because it is important to me that my work is beneficial, it is an honour to be involved in the preservation of Russian culture. 

Membership of the Guild has afforded me a better understanding of other cultures and   acquaintance with contemporary Eurasian authors. One particularly interesting and useful service that I would like to continue and develop, is themed online meetings, both as a platform for communication and as an educational resource. The modern world expects new approaches to creativity, with cross-knowledge of skills from related fields, increasingly in demand. Creating a presentation of poetry set to music or filming an excerpt from a novel complimented by music and visuals, requires the input of specialists from different fields. In this regard, the Guild is able to unite the invaluable creative resources of hundreds of professionals through the formation of sub-groups, masterclasses, presentations by individuals, brand- building, and guidance on the fundamentals of marketing and promoting creative projects.

What would you wish the members of the Guild, just starting their career?

I would advise my young creative colleagues from the Guild to stick to their goals, regardless of internal doubts, envious disapproval and sharp criticism. The creative path is not easy; no one is obliged to applaud or patronize you. Ups and downs are inevitable, but even if you fall, even if criticism pierces you like a hundred poisonous arrows, take a deep breath, get up and move on!

You may believe yourself a genius and the creator of a great masterpiece, but in today’s world that is no longer enough. You must reach out to your audience and make your voice heard above the surrounding noise. The Eurasian Creative Guild provides great opportunities, but how you use them depends on you.