Expat Sat: Writing Prompt #9: “Raindrops on Roses…”

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


One of my favorite things about living in Shanghai was that I was constantly (constantly!) inspired to take photographs. In addition to writing, I’m a wee bit obsessed with taking photographs.

In Shanghai, I carried my camera everywhere. On the walk to my daughter’s preschool/play group. On the drive to the grocery store. To my fav foot massage place. To friends’ houses. To Pudong. To Xian. To Chengdu. Up the street to buy a pack of toilet paper. Down to the Bund. Along the lanes. To Dongtai Lu. Into the wet markets. To the Ambassy Club swimming pool in the summertime. To the Longhua Temple.

I was inspired by, well, just about everything: people, objects, transportation, movement, weird & wacky stuff in window displays, birds in cages, birds not in cages, noodles, the frog-tying guy on Wulumuqi Road, the ice delivery chicky-babe who could hoist a massive block of ice onto her shoulder and tote it down a lane as if she were carrying feathers, bamboo scaffolding, Chinglish, monks, temples, fish that escaped their baskets and flopped on down the road trying to find the sea, nametags, and oh, so much more.

I have a gazillion photographs (like the one up there in the corner) that in the end loop back to my writing. It’s all part of my creative process…my writerhead.

Assignment: Write about your favorite thing–okay, one of your favorite things–about living in your host country. What gets you up and out in the morning? What makes you say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I love this place”? What inspires you?

Tip: Be specific. Dig in. If you love noodles, tear them crazy-delicious noodles apart. Don’t stop at “I love noodles.” What kinds of noodles do you love? How do you like your noodles to be prepared? How many times a week do you eat noodles? Do noodles remind you of anything back home? Where did you first eat these life-changing noodles? Did you ever burn yourself on a noodle? Slip on one? Stretch one out to see how long it was? Take a noodle-making class? Watch a noodle maker at the market? From what do these noodles set you free (boxed ramen, perhaps)?


Now spend a little time thinking about your favorite things…and then, as always, get thee to writerhead!