Expat Sat: Writing Prompt #4: Family

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writerhead. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing, publishing, and thriving to expat writers around the globe.

This is #4 of 10 in a series of writing prompts for expat writers. So listen up, my nomadic pals. Then grab your keyboards and start writing.


Today…family talk. Not the spouse you handpicked from the apple bin or the kiddos you either created or adopted into your über-awesome immediate family. But your extended family–moms, dads, grandparents, sisters, brothers, cousins, etc. All those lovely, loving, sometimes-comforting, sometimes-irritating family members who make you laugh, push your buttons, drive you batty, keep you real, and know that you’d do anything to keep that 9th-grade photo from making its way onto the Internet.

And why are we talking family today?

Because living in a country far from all those family members is often both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you don’t have to deal with family crap. A curse because–crazy as it may seem–you sometimes miss dealing with family crap.

Writing assignment: Make some sense of your feelings about being far from family. Write it down. Get real. Get it on the page. Who drives you the nuttiest? Who do you miss the most? The least? Who picks you up at the airport when you travel to your home country? Who sends you care packages? Who do you miss that you didn’t expect to miss? Why? Why? Why? And how do you manage all these loverly emotions while hunkered down in your host country?

#1 Rule: Be honest and don’t pussyfoot around.

Tip: If you have trouble getting started, write this assignment as a letter. To one of those wonderfully kooky family members. Or to a best friend to whom you can say anything. Or even to yourself. Or me. Whatever works.



Image: posterize / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


2 Responses to Expat Sat: Writing Prompt #4: Family

  1. @Kristin
    Another great tip — thanks!

    And in another uncanny coincidence, Kate Allison has just now posted on a similar topic at The Displaced Nation — using Jane Austen as her muse.

    Austen, who herself lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family, understood the ties that bind us to kith and kin. Even though her characters didn’t travel as far afield as we do, they traveled all the same — causing family much consternation, for instance by getting themselves into trouble in exotic locales (Lydia Bennet’s trip to Brighton being a prime example).

    Likewise, those who traveled and became “displaced” had to cope with how this altered their relationships with their no-longer-nearest but still dearest.

    Emma’s sister, Isabella Woodhouse, married and moved to London. Her father disliked travel, leaving her no choice but to make the journey (with five children in tow) to see him — only to be welcomed with a bowl of gruel!

    Fanny Price apparently enjoyed her adopted home of Mansfield Park so much that she couldn’t tolerate going back to her real home again — it wasn’t glittering enough for her sophisticated tastes…

    p.s. Let’s keep this cyber-telepathy going! 🙂