Has travel ever sparked your creativity? For centuries, artists have found inspiration outside their home country. Think Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, or cast your mind back to Karen Blixon’s memoir, Out of Africa, or George Gershwin’s composition, An American in Paris, which were both later turned into movies. To quote Hans Christian Andersen, “To travel is to live.”
When I moved to Lagos, Nigeria, I experienced the highs and lows of leaving family and friends, assimilating into a new culture, and starting a new job. This gave me endless fodder for my creative endeavours, but it also created unique artistic challenges.
Whenever I meet other expat authors, the conversation inevitably turns to specific issues, such as:
- how can we best share our experiences – what style and genre of writing?
- how do we address sensitivities in describing a culture outside our own?
- is there a market for our work and how do we tap into it?
In my editorial roles at Brightside Story Studio and the literary agency, NAC, I have worked with a number of authors who have written about their travel experiences. It is always a delight and a struggle present their story in a unique and compelling way. To make them stand out.
Many of these writers, like me, started by writing memoir. In my post The Pros and Cons of Writing Memoir, I explained why I later switched to fiction. Other expat writers make the same shift. We then have to figure out how to remain true to setting and preserve elements of the original manuscript while superimposing a more compelling story arc.
For a while now, I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a Facebook group for writers to discuss these issues and more. And now I’ve taken the leap … introducing Expat Writers, a safe space for members to share ideas or ask questions about how to find their voice, attract an audience, source other material written about expat life, or anything else related to their experience as an expat writer. I’d love to see people share their frustrations and successes, give a shout out to their favorite expat blogger or author, or to post their own material. You don’t have to be a published author to join, you simply need to dream of writing.
I invite bloggers, authors, editors, memoirists and anyone else who puts fingers to keyboard about their experiences living away from home, even if it’s simply write emails to your friends. To join, just click on the link Expat Writers. See you there!
Next time, an interview with one of our Expat Writers, Nicole Webb From Newsreader to Author