One day, I had the idea of writing a series of personal essays about living, working, traveling, and just being abroad. A year later, I finally created this blog. Three months later, people found out about it.
Why did it take me so long to get started? I didn’t forget about the project. In fact, I had a folder on my desktop full of completed entries. And it’s not as if signing up for a free blog requires a year of planning.
And why didn’t I bother to tell anyone about the blog? I didn’t write the essays for me, I already have a journal. I wanted to share my insights, opinions, and experiences with a larger audience. I wanted people to learn from my mistakes, trials, and triumphs. I wanted to create a virtual place where expats living all over the world could swap stories and exchange advice. I wanted to give greater meaning to my time abroad so that I could stop feeling guilty about wasting my parent’s money on my college education. Sure a few people happened upon the blog, but mostly by accident while searching for essays about topics such as “befriending my ex.” For a long time, I was the only person reading my writing.
The answer to both questions is obvious. I was scared. Not just embarrassed to have other people read my writing, scared. For me, this is more than just a personal project. It is the first step on the path to becoming a writer, a career that I never considered in the past. The blog was supposed to be a way to gain experience, and to start building a reputation. Yet my name appeared nowhere. I was dangling one toe over the edge, but I hadn’t yet committed to jumping. Then my own mother pushed me into the deep end.
Yesterday, my mother sent an email about my blog to nearly every contact in her address book. Which prompted me to send an email to my friends and fellow expats, inviting them to visit the blog and to contribute as guest writers. Overnight, I went from virtually unknown to having a small audience of family and friends. My mother was suddenly talking about getting me published, and encouraging me to contact travel writer Bill Bryson. Of course, she did casually mention that she wouldn’t mind it if I were to get a PhD in Economics as well.
Having people read my writing is wonderful, even more so when they send me positive feedback and encouragement. A blog that no one reads is just a waste of cyber space. But truthfully, there was comfort in the knowledge that I could delete the blog at any moment, and no one would be any wiser. Now, thanks to all of you, there is no turning back. Not from the blog, and not from writing. Especially because, if I do try to disappear, most of you know where my family and I live.