Why I blog

Why I blog

The last time I wrote with joyful abandon, I was probably 11 years old.

Expat Women just posted my article on expats who blog. I initially pitched the idea because I’m amazed — and frankly overwhelmed — by the volume of verbiage expatriates fling into the blogosphere every single day. Why, I wondered, do all these people feel the need to share their experiences with the world at large?

Expat coach extraordinaire Megan Fitzgerald worked overtime to help me understand the many reasons expatriate women turn to blogging, and the bloggers I interviewed — Jo Parfitt, Judy Rickatson, and Riki Campbell — kindly filled in the blanks. There’s a lot of overlap, but it seems that everyone’s motivations for tapping away at the keyboard are slightly different.

Why do I blog? I make a crack on my About Me page about needing fresh meat to tell my stories to, and I admit that’s part of it. But I also think I need to reassure myself that the time I spent living abroad wasn’t just a dream.

In a perfect world, I’d have started writing about expat life when I was still an expat, instead of wondering, “what is this blog thing everyone’s talking about?” Blogging back then would have lent my words the authority that comes from being live at the scene. There’s no substitute for the power of immediacy; it has a relevance that’s missing in after-the-fact reporting.

But even when I, the slowest of adopters, finally figured out what blogs were, it never occurred to me that I could do that. I’d assumed it would be expensive and technically challenging. I could kick myself now over the missed opportunity.

When life gives me lemons, I tend to hurl them at inanimate objects. But this time, I figured I could actually make a little lemonade. I sweetened it with the knowledge that the intervening years had brought some perspective to my expat memories; putting them into context allowed me to better evaluate those experiences. Once removed from the fray, I was able to see things more clearly, and to appreciate them more fully.

Two reasons I’ll continue to blog:

1. It lets me be a part of something bigger. I feel that by reaching out and sharing a little sliver of myself, I cement my membership in the expat community. It’s exciting to know that every time someone comments on one of my posts, a connection is made. We may be separated by thousands of miles, but that person feels compelled to bridge the distance because of something I’ve written, allowing a conversation to develop between two like-minded strangers who would never have met otherwise. How gratifying is that?

2. It lets me put words to paper (virtually, of course.) Way back in kindergarten, I figured out that it was possible to take individual letters and turn them into actual words. That was the day I became a writer. When you’re a kid, you do what you love, and my childhood was filled with enthusiastic scribbling.

I stopped writing as an adult, because I feared nothing I produced would be “good enough.” So convinced was I of this, I didn’t even try to write. Now that I’m older, I realize that “She Was Afraid of Failure” is a pretty sad epitaph. And frankly, I don’t care quite so much anymore what other people think.

This blog has allowed me to rediscover the joy of expressing myself with the written word, made even more precious because I thought I’d lost it forever. I’m still pretty slow, and I hesitate for a looooong time before I click the publish button, but I feel very lucky to be able to combine my passions for writing and expat life.

That’s why I blog. How about you?

[Edited to add (with a red face): That comment about needing fresh meat isn’t on my About Me page, after all. It’s in my first post. Sorry about that.]


About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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8 Responses to Why I blog

  1. bookjunkie says:

    What a pretty girl your 11 year old self was 🙂 I enjoyed this post especially when you talk about the fear which comes with writing that we didn’t have when we were kids and wrote with wild abandon…I can totally relate to that!

  2. Maria says:

    Blogging has set a lot of us free — or at least taken us back to a simpler time. I didn’t realize how addictive it would become! My 11-year-old self would approve (freckles and all.)

  3. I just discovered your blog and am looking forward to reading your posts, having (had) my own adventures living the expat life. And why do I blog?

    Well, I’m a writer (published 34 romance novels and nonficttion articles), and I blog mostly because I have stories about my expat life to tell. I have a finished book, but so far agents and publishers have told me, and I am paraphrasing, that Americans don’t want to read about places they don’t go to on vacation. Which would be the places I write about: poor countries like Ghana, Palestine, Armenia. Once in a while I post something about other countries, the one I come from (Holland) or the ones I visit (Ecuador, Albania), but mostly I write light-hearted tales about my daily-life (mis)adventures living in foreign countries.

    I do it because I want to see if I can’t entertain the readers who ARE interesting and find some kindred souls, and because I don’t want to get depressed because I have a manuscript burning a hole in my hard drive.

    Hope springs eternal, they say. Well, I’m still hoping.


    • Maria says:

      If you’re looking to entertain, mission accomplished! I just finished the first chapter of your ebook (“You’re Moving Where?!”) and I’m completely hooked. (I also subscribed to your fabulous blog.) I find it very hard to believe there wouldn’t be a market for your book out there — your stories are exotic and homey at the same time, and so beautifully written. Thanks for stopping by and introducing yourself. I’ll keep reading as long as you keep writing 🙂

  4. Crystal says:

    I started the expat blog as a way to talk to our friends about our life in such an alien place (Singapore is just about exactly the opposite side of the world, and apart from a select few, none of our compatriots are familiar with it). But I keep it up because I’m a writer…and when I’m not putting words to paper, my imagination gets a little TOO active (like the night I watched the first episode of “The Walking Dead” and became convinced the zombies were going to invade the house at any minute).

  5. naomi says:

    I initially blogged to keep our friends and family “up to date” on what was going on thousands of miles away …. then I realized halfway through that I needed to pay it forward (in some small way) to people who had helped make OUR move much more tolerable. Now that we’re settled and such, I continue to blog because there are some amazing things to share about the country that adopted us!

    Congrats on the published work!

    • Maria says:

      I kept everyone up to date via email, and I wish I’d been smart enough to keep a copy of the whole lot. I have lots from my first year in Singapore, but very little of the following years, and virtually nothing from France. I envy you that blog!

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