Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing, publishing, and thriving to expat writers around the globe.
This is #2 of 10 in a series of writing prompts for expat writers. So grab your keyboards, my friends, and start writing.
In 2006, as I prepared to upend my life and move from the U.S. to China, I (like many of you) rented a storage space and shoved nearly everything I own into it:
- 40+ boxes of books
- every single draft of my novel Thirsty
- kitchen crap
- Gagual (the panda bear I’ve loved since I was two)
- my fishing gear
- a load of elk horns
I arrived in China with a mattress, 2 suitcases of clothes, my laptop, a Swiss Army knife (thank goodness cause our “furnished apt” in Shanghai didn’t include any kitchen stuff & we sure needed that knife during our first few jet-lagged days in China), and few other bits and pieces.
And honestly, that’s all I needed.
Here’s your writing challenge for the week. In the video below, check out what filmmaker David Hoffman has to say about his connection to stuff. Read this terrific essay —“Selling My Mother’s Dresses”— in the NYTimes by Abby Sher. Then think about your own connection to stuff…and start writing. A few questions to get you started.
- What did you take with you to your host country? Why?
- What did you leave behind that you miss?
- What was the “surprise” object you brought from your home country? The thing that proved to be more valuable than you anticipated? (for me, the Swiss Army knife)
- What new object have you acquired in your host country that you couldn’t live without?