Moving to a foreign country is a lot like writing a book. It’s something 80% of people would like to do but never will. It’s challenging, inspiring, scary as hell, and requires the loyal grit and determination of a cat chasing a laser beam.
You can be the most beautiful, emotive writer, spinning streams of golden prose that dance gracefully across a page – and yet, in the same moment, be a terrible storyteller with no sense of character development, plot, or narrative structure.
Then, there are born storytellers. People gifted at crafting tales that intoxicate readers with just the right amount of complexity, soul, and intrigue. A twist here, a turn there. The polygonal intricacy of origami Narnia. More often than not, these people are not great writers.
Then, there are the experts – we cannot forget factual accuracy. So many specialists, historians, sci-fi nerds, and PHD’s attempt to write books leaning on the near-religious grasp they have of a subject matter – but again, gripping facts and accurate situational dialogue do not, alone, make a good book. In fact, it is almost never that you find that all the qualities of true authorship exist within a single person. It is a game of playing your strengths.
From the moment I learned to read, I’ve been consumed with the dream of writing a book, but the “getting started” part, in the face of impossible deficiencies, has always stopped me dead. And what about self-publishing? This tiny technological advancement has flooded an already saturated market by devastating proportions. Like living abroad, where does one even begin to prepare for such a challenge? For me, there is no point at which I will ever feel prepared. And so I don’t think, I just do. Living the expat life, this mentality has led me through painful challenges, up volcanoes, across deserts, and through a tempest of soul-quaking adventures. Why should life goals be any different?
Facing trials despite a rainbow of insecurities, I have come to believe I can do anything – even write a book. Working in publishing, I am forced to not only contemplate the titanic effort and skill that goes into a novel, but to appreciate every aspect of the literary process and all the tiny details that add up to create a successful publication. Books are the key to unlocking the door to the past, present, and future by forging a genuine, experiential connection – It’s writer’s who achieve this that can truly claim success, and it’s expats who can understand and appreciate it better than anyone.
During my literary trajectory, I have known only a few writers who genuinely surmount the authorial plight and can claim rights to the hat of ‘Jack of All Trades’. (And no, Fifty Shades of Grey author Erika Mitchell is not one of them.) Only creative expression can transport you from the passive condition of thought to the active condition of sensation and there is nothing more creatively inspiring than experiencing another culture.
The expatriate life has given me freedom to know what I want, and the visceral stimulation to deliver it into reality. Through the ongoing cultural investigation that affords me this inspirited perspective and my newfound nomadic confidence, I am now armed with the tools to put pen to paper.