Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“very superstitious, writing’s on the wall”–thank you, Stevie Wonder

I watched Julie and Julia the other night. If men are reading this, I know what you’re thinking, “Turn in your man-card, Bob.” I know, I know.

Sorry, but whenever there’s an opportunity to watch Meryl Streep on the screen, I jump at it. She is a marvel to observe and, in my opinion, the greatest actress of our generation. I have to watch. If she were merely reading instructions for operating a chainsaw, I’d watch. Raptly.

And I’m glad I did watch. The film is about a young, nascent writer named Julie who admired Julia Child and decided to cook each meal in Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a year while blogging about her experience. The operative word there is “blogging”.

I watched the story and, of course, I focused on Streep’s performance. But what eventually grabbed me was the young writer’s desire to blog her experiences. As the writer blogs, she wonders aloud if anyone is reading. She gradually hears from readers. They send her ingredients. Ultimately, she gets a call from the Christian Science Monitor who wants to interview her (yet reneges). Then, voila’! A call from the New York Times that leads to a published interview.

<spoiler alert>

From there, the floodgates open and she receives requests for print and broadcast interviews, offers for films, plays and television shows. Her cup runs over. And she’s just thirty.

The ultimate result of her efforts is the film I watched.

A bunch of things jumped out at me. This writer decided to just write. She had a dead end job with a government agency and she wanted to write. She created her own niche and wrote, not giving much thought to readership although she did wonder. Her dedication to her efforts and her decision to forge ahead was admirable. When her mother questioned her abilities and reasoning, she kept going. Her persistence paid off.

It’s a true story. It occurred in 2003. It was a time when blogging was very new and not quite understood by the masses. She used the blog to her advantage, but unknowingly so.

In 2014 blogging has lost its innocence and become a business. There is no shortage of people, hucksters and shysters who will gladly take my money in order to “help” me make this blog more successful, more readable, more well-known. There is now a name, the “blogosphere”, for those of us involved in blogging. And tens of millions are involved. Hell, children blog. Some blogs go viral just because a person wrote something in particular that resonated.

Truthfully, I’m one of the minions who is fervently hoping that something I write will echo in someone’s mind and be shared relentlessly. I know that is far-fetched. I understand, according to the powers that be, that I must follow a pre-determined path in order to get to where I want to be. I must “friend” other bloggers, make submissions to other sites, “like” postings and ask to be “friended” and “liked” in return. And from there, I must hope that bloggers more popular than I choose to christen my writings with their support.

You see what I mean when I say that blogging has lost its innocence? Now there are rules to follow, contacts to make. I must be obsequious.

That giant sucking sound you hear is me pursing my lips and accidentally inhaling a lawn mower.

Strangely enough, this film gave me some encouragement. And, of course, I took this encouragement as a sign from God that I’m on the right track. In an earlier post I wrote about faith. Accidentally finding this film on TV does not qualify as faith far as I’m concerned. I don’t think God was channeling (pardon the pun) so I would alight on the correct TV station. Still, I am thankful for little things, however coincidental.

I’m not superstitious. Yes, I do recoil when I see a cat crossing in front of my car. I don’t break mirrors or walk under ladders intentionally. OK, I threw away a mirror once. But I figured the garbage man was responsible if it broke when the truck picked up the can.

But I’m willing to suspend disbelief in this case. The film actually encouraged me. Granted, the protagonist wrote in a different era. But people still find success by blogging. And I have the luxury of a well-received book (four out of five stars, thank you, Portland Book Review!!) under my belt that complements my blogging.

I will conceitedly admit that I fully expect to be successful on my own terms. How haughty is that, assuming that I can blast my way through formidable boundaries in this world that others have created either purposely or accidentally?

Every little encouragement I get either from others or from something I perceive is writing on the wall. Am I confident?

Or am I superstitious?





3 thoughts on “Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“very superstitious, writing’s on the wall”–thank you, Stevie Wonder

  1. Julia Child’s books about her expatriate life are also worth reading. It’s interesting that the process you describe about blogging- finding a purpose, creating a niche and then persevering in spite of the odds is the same process Julia Childs went through in becoming an expert in French cooking. She chose something that would give her an interest and purpose in her expatriate life – like so many bloggers. I started my blog when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after I moved to Nigeria. It is easy for me to continue with it because it is mostly written for the entertainment of one person. If other people like it, that’s good too. It is wonderful to unexpectedly find a blog on a topic that resonates- as I found yours. That joy of discovery is something that those who want to commercialise blogging don’t seem to understand.

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