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.]