I need to preface this by saying I am so happy to have discovered 18 new bloggers through this latest experience. I have gotten to read their tales and experiences. They introduced me to lives so dissimilar to mine, yet intrinsically linked by the simple expat experience. Thank you to them all for sharing their experience and their view on the world. I am so much richer for it.
Now on to the real self-indulgent reason for this post ...
I am so thrilled. I can't hide it. I'm trying to be modest about it, but it's not working. My submission to 'Expats Blog' on Working Abroad, titled "Let Me Take You to the Dark Side of the Moon" was selected as the winning entry.
My desire to write dates back to my discovery of the ability to write.
I still remember dutifully re-printing (by hand ... it was after all circa 1975) the first five pages of "Alice in Wonderland" when I was about five years old. Bringing it into my parents' room pre-dawn and telling them I was going to transcribe the whole book and sell each copy door-to-door for 25 cents.
My father, who always had a keen business sense, explained that taking 6 months to transcribe a book at that re-sell value might not really prove profitable or gratifying. I didn't care ... I wanted to write.
He then explained the concept of "copyright".
I was five. But I got it. I had to come up with something that was mine.
I was five. I didn't have that much to write about. So I decided I'd spend some time reading. I read everything, from the back of the cereal box at breakfast, to the Disney Classics at noon, to the ingredients on the shampoo bottle at bath time. I guess I was just killing time feeding myself on the much wiser words of others until I had something truly worth writing about.
I think I was about eight the first time I felt true sorrow. My parents arguing, my inability to do anything about it, my pre-pubescent frustration with the world in general. The usual writer's angst. I was lying outside on a lounge chair in Venezuela one night, with my dad next to me, and I was asking him about the stars shining up there in the Southern Hemisphere, about what was up there, what was passing us by, what we were missing, why we were here.
And he told me that star gazers tend to be lonely souls. He asked me what I was sad about. And I told him I couldn't say, couldn't find the words.
And he said "OK, that's fine. But if you're sad, it might help if you wrote a letter to yourself. If you can find the words for you, nothing else really matters."
And with that, he changed my life.
On that night, he opened up a world that was mine, and mine alone. I wrote so much to myself over the next to years ('Sybil' references from the Peanut Gallery NOT cool ....), eventually finding the words to express how I felt. Finding safety in the written word. Finding safety in knowing that it was for my eyes only. Expanding my vocabulary and my soul as I tried to find the words that truly conveyed what I was feeling inside. Somehow managing to eventually convey the tortured existence of a miserable teenaged girl's soul through simple consonants and vowels. A pencil and paper the vehicles navigating me through the perils of adolescence.
Until a few months ago, I didn't share my writing with anyone, not even my husband. I wanted to write, I dreamt of writing daily, but there were so many other things to think about. Silly love letters to an ancient beau, poems written in the depths of despair, a writing course taken by correspondence in my late twenties ... these were a whimsical, fanciful, capricious indulgence, relegated to times of complete repose and abandon, which seemed fewer and fewer as I grew older. I had responsibilities; a home to run, a career to tend to, a child to nurture, a husband to love, a body to exercise ... where in the world would writing fit in?
And then, one day, nothing else mattered. I decided I was going to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start writing again. For me. Letters to me, but in a public forum this time. Blogging. For the fun of it. For the love of writing.
And a little over a week ago, I got wind of the Expats Blog "Working Abroad" contest. And I jokingly told Smilin' Vic about it. And he said "Do it, Babe. You won't know 'til you've tried." And I said "But I've only got like 6 hours, I'd be writing all night." And he answered: "Why don't you just try?"
And I did. And somebody liked what I had to write. And I am so thrilled.
So Thank You. Thank you Daddy, for showing me what I could write. Thank you Smilin' Vic, for believing I could write. And thank you to the judges at Expats Blog, for enjoying what I did write.
They liked "Let Me Take You to the Dark Side of the Moon". And for that, I am 'over the moon'.
Thank You. From Me.