Expat Sat: Connect

Good morning, writers, readers, expats, repats, travelers, and intrepid explorers.

Welcome to the first-ever Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing.

As I announced in WRITERHEAD’s inaugural blog post, Saturdays are hereby reserved for expat writers and aspiring expat writers. Every Saturday from now until the end of time, I’ll provide you with expat-specific writing advice, inspiration, writing prompts, suggested reading lists, links to relevant contests and conferences, interviews with expat authors, publishing know-how, and other goodies.

My hope is that Expat Sat will become a worldwide conversation. That you talk to me (and to one another) as much as I talk to you. That this tiny province on our vast virtual planet will become a regular stopping place for you and that you will cheer on one another’s writerly successes and weigh in on one another’s challenges.

Because honestly, no matter where you live, being a writer can be a lonely gig. And if you’re an expat writer in a foreign country far from home, you can sometimes feel as if you’re going to burst.

No bursting allowed on my watch!

The way I see it, there are two kinds of expat writers:

  1. the expat who was a writer before making the move to a new country
  2. the expat who started writing (or is about to start writing) after moving to a new country

Raise your hand if you are a member of Group #1.

(smiles at raised hands)

Okay, good.

Now, raise your hand if you belong to Group #2. And yes, that includes those who haven’t yet written a word, but plan to soon.

(shakes head)

Come on, come on. Be brave. Own your passion and aspirations. Hands up!


And a big welcome to all of you.

Before you click away, please take a moment to say hello and to answer the following two questions in the comment section:

  1. From which country do you hail? In which country are you living?
  2. How is being an expat fueling your desire to write?


(Also, be sure to check out the online writing workshop I’m launching specifically for expat writers. The first session begins May 1.)



Image: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

29 Responses to Expat Sat: Connect

  1. Hi Kristin,
    Just followed the link on WU’s Facebook page to your site and am so happy I did! I am a South African expat, currently living in Beijing. I am part of group #2 and started writing, well, because I ran out of excuses not to. Love the idea of Expat Sat!

  2. Hi Kristin. I’m loving your new blog! I’m an American living in Paris (oh, that sounds so cliche!) I was writer before I came, but my writing has gone to the next level since moving abroad. Finally attacking a novel! I look forward to Expat Saturdays!

  3. Thanks, Sion. Cliche or no cliche, I love the “American in Paris” tag…who wouldn’t? (I had THE best strawberry shortcake in Paris a few years ago…it was amazing. Must have been strawberry season because there were strawberries everywhere in the city.)

    I’m already a big fan of your blog and now I look forward to learning more about your novel-writing journey here on Expat Sat.

    Thanks for joining the conversation.

  4. Hey Celia…you probably know or know of Alan Paul, an American who lived in Beijing a few years ago. His memoir “Big in China” was just published, and I’m very excited that he’s going to be featured on Writerhead Wednesday in a few weeks.

    Love expat writers!

  5. I’m an American who’s been living in Japan for the past 23 years. I wrote before I came to Japan, and decided when I was a child in the Midwest that I would be a writer when I grew up. Living in another country provides me with endless material. The more I know about this country, the more I don’t know…

  6. Hi Suzanne…your book “Losing Kei” is at the top of my TBR pile. Welcome.

    You know, that’s exactly how I felt during my 5 years in China..the more I knew, the less I knew. Guess that’s why I’ll always go back & explore.

    Hope you’re doing okay with all that’s happened in Japan in recent weeks.

    Thx for joining the conversation.

  7. Hi Kristin,
    Loving your topic!
    I’m an American living in Dubai, where I’ve lived for 10 years. I started seriously writing as an expat. The truth is, I didn’t have the confidence before. Plus, the distance enables me to write about my own culture more clearly.
    Looking forward to the discussion here.

  8. Reposting, the original was lost in translation somewhere–

    Hi Kristin, congrats on the launch! We expat writers are legion….

    I’m an American whose writing took off professionally on my 5 year stint in Southeast Asia, and whose first book (Tales from the Expat Harem) is rooted in the expat woman experience of Turkey, where I live now. I was a writer before becoming an expat, but clearly my expatriatism is now a key element of my writing perspective, and my writing career.

    Looking forward to more Expat Sats.

  9. Hi Kristin,

    What a great idea! Thanks for your leadership. My name is Karen. I am an American who started writing when I was contemplating my soon-to-be empty nest. I did not want to waste one moment in mourning. Writing helped me pivot to my next adventure – spending the years before my children have their own families exploring the world. I began writing my blog “Empty Nest Expat” to make that transition.

    I first moved to the Czech Republic and am now living in Istanbul, Turkey. I’m excited about this online community you are forming! This will be a terrific learning opportunity.


    • Karen…I absolutely love that you didn’t waste time mourning. Writing is a such an incredible way to engage in a conversation with ourselves, but also with our environments.

      Thanks for joining in this conversation.

  10. So true, Anastasia, we expats (& reluctant repats) are legion. And we have a lot to say.

    Thanks for sharing your story here. Your tweets about Turkey have got me very interested in traveling there. Look forward to learning more.

  11. Hi Holly…I’m envious of your time in Dubai. Back in college I had a good friend from Abu Dhabi and I always wanted to go there.

    Your point is such an important one…I, too, find it easier to write about my culture (American) from a distance. I got a lot of clarity while living in China. Of course, in other ways, I just got confused and bewildered…but you know, it’s all about balance. 🙂

  12. Hi Kristin, and congratulations on this new initiative. Great idea. As you already know, I’m Half French-Half Spanish, married to a Haitian, born in Paris, but left France half a life ago (imagine being old enough to be able to say that). We’ve currently landed our moving bubble in Bangladesh after six years in India, over three in Nigeria, seven in New York City (I miss Brooklyn), two years in London before that, and quite a bit of traveling, too. Like you, I was always a writer, but moving abroad helped me take the leap to fiction writing. My blogging suffered greatly after the last move, and so did the writing. Dhaka is not exactly an easy place. But I’m glad to report that I’ve resumed working on a YA novel set in India, and I also dug out several PB manuscripts in need of revision before I send them out again. I look forward to this Saturday rendez-vous.

    • Thanks, Katia, and welcome. Very happy to see you here. And whew…that’s a lot of traveling/moving…but wow, what perspective. I’m sure many expat writers will benefit from what you’ve learned about disciplining yourself as a writer and finding your stories along the road. Look forward to hearing your input here.

      And to all you readers, check out Katia’s wonderful picture book for kids: “Amadi’s Snowman.”

      • Kristin,
        Welcome back to the United States and to the internet. I’ve missd your blog.

        I LOVE Amadi’s Snowman. What a wonderful book. (I actually referenced it in a recent cover letter). How exciting to “meet’ you here, Katia!

        I am not an expat, though I lived in the Philippines as a teen. 25 years later that experience still influences my life and my writing. My writing life is focused on writing books for children. My stories tend to be cultural stories written with a naturalist’s eye (or stories that focus on culture and nature).

        Have you all read Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad Edited by Christina Henry de Tessan? If not, check it out.


        • Thank you so much, Michelle. It’s good to be back. It’s also nice to know that I was missed. 🙂

          And I know what you mean about “Amadi’s Snowman”; it’s a special book. Hope both you and Katia spend time here in the future.

          Haven’t read the book by Christina Henry de Tessan…but I’m going to now.

          Love the description of your stories: “cultural stories written with a naturalist’s eye.” Lovely.

  13. Kristin

    As you know, I’m one of the 2nd group and I still stumble on the ‘Yes’ when anyone asks if I’m a writer.

    I came from the US, but after 12 years bouncing around the UK I call myself AmeriEnglish. I currently live with my Australian husband in Shanghai, and definitely can identify myself as a citizen of the planet.

    I started writing because I’d always liked the idea but finally, as an expat, I started finding time and space. Still struggling with those but it’s getting better. I’m interested in finding out what kind of writer I’m going to become, and I can’t wait for your class to start so I can do some more digging!


  14. Hi Kristin – I’m an American writer based in the UK. I have written many blog posts, personal essays and reported articles from the perspective of an American living in London. And while I’m coming up on the 5 year mark, nearly every week I still find fresh material from this angle. I think when you’re a foreigner – even of the insider/outsider variety – you just never stop noticing stuff about your host country that is colored by your foreign-ness. Last night, for example, I found myself observing that “special needs” – while they exist in this country – are not talked about with anywhere near the frequency that one hears in the U.S. And it struck me as a good topic for an article.

    So glad to see that you’re back in the saddle in your new digs. I look forward to seeing what Writer Head yields!

    Great title!

    Delia Lloyd

    • Delia!

      Your comment has been lingering in my spam filter. So sorry.

      Thanks for stopping by my new digs and sharing your story. You’re one of my favorite expat voices out there on the web, and you’re so right about there being an endless stream of writing material when you’re an “other” in a foreign country. But I think one of the skills writers need to develop in order to grow is an ear for the “angle,” for the potential story. Not always easy when dealing with the challenges of being an expat.

      So happy to be back in the saddle!

  15. Hi Kristin,

    I’m a spaniard living in Ireland for 5 years so far. In Dublin, I’ve not only found the inspiration but time to write and at the moment, I’m editing a novel and a poetry book.

    Congrats for the post!

    Take care,

    • Hiya. Thanks for popping in. As I mentioned on Twitter, Ireland is close to my heart so it’s great to have someone here who’s living in Dublin. Congrats on all the work you’re getting done. Look forward to learning more.

  16. Hi Kristin,

    I’ve been writing very very personal essays that I never show anybody for about 10 years but it never occurred to me that I could BE a writer until this week. I’m from Costa Rica and had been living in Italy for 6 years until moving to Shanghai at the beginning of summer 2010. I’m very exited about this new step and need all the help I can get!
    Great initiative!

    • Lucia…congrats on the realization that yep, you can BE a writer. Sounds to me like you already are. (Also, consider taking my online class that starts in May. It would help you move to the next level in your work. I suspect there are going to be a few Shanghai writers taking it.)

      Enjoy Shanghai. I miss it very much.

  17. Hi Kristin – I think this is a wonderful idea!
    I’m a serial American expat currently living in Beijing. I’ve always been a scribbler, diarist and, for the last 5 years, blogger, but I think I fit in category #2 as my writing hasn’t been too formal. I’ve moved frequently and lived abroad most of my adult life, and being constantly surrounded by change has led me to see so many interesting stories walking around in front of me. I want to write them down! I write travel itineraries and descriptions of travel destinations across China for a travel booking website and although I enjoy that, I’m trying to get back to the creative side of writing. (And the Beijing Bookworm Intl Literary Festival just knocked my socks off with inspiration, if I can use my metaphors that way.)

  18. Thanks, Heather! Great to meet you, and I know exactly what you mean by having your socks knocked off by the lit festival in Beijing. Had mine knocked off by the one in Shanghai many times.

    Sounds like you’ve got a stockpile of stories to get on the page. Glad you found your way here. Consider taking my class that starts in May…might be perfect timing for where you are in your process.