The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

And the April 2013 Alices go to … these 5 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Used under license

© Iamezan |
Used under license

As subscribers to our weekly newsletter, The Displaced Dispatch, may have noticed, we are now presenting our “Alice Awards” in that esteemed publication. Each week, we give an “Alice” to someone who has a special handle on the the curious and unreal aspects of the displaced life of global residency and travel. Not only that, but they have used their befuddlement as a spur to creativity of all kinds.

Today’s post honors our first five Alice recipients, beginning with the most recent and this time including citations.

So, without further ado: The April 2013 Alices went to …

1) MICHELLE GARRETT, expat blogger

Source:Has Your Expat Life Inspired You To Write A Book?” in Expat Focus (e-zine for anyone moving or living abroad)
Posted on: 19 April 2013

By definition is an “expat novel” about an expat? Or does it need to be more than that—does an expat novel need to be about an expat experiencing expat life? You know, the culture shock, the language differences, the homesickness …

I have always written and always wanted to be a Writer so for me the motivation to write a novel was more about “you want to write? Start by writing what you know’” rather than, “I’m an expat with adventures—I think I’ll write about them!”

Citation: Should we expats write books about the wonderlands we’ve experienced on our travels, or should we write because we enjoy writing (and just so happen to live abroad)? Michelle, you’re sounding a little Mad Hatterish by posing this riddle with no answer, and we feel duty bound to point out that Alice herself felt that her adventures could be worth writing about:

When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one! There ought to be a book written about me, that there ought!

But listen, if our enjoyment of your blog, The American Resident, is any indication, we’re going to love the novel you’re writing about an expat woman but that isn’t an expat novel. We also look forward to your book of tips for expats with long and sad tales, like the Mouse’s.

2) JUDY LEE DUNN, award-winning blogger on blogging and former humanitarian aid worker

Source:Judy Lee Dunn on words, maps, and inspiration“—an interview with Judy conducted by author Lisa Ahn (notably, Lisa’s own favorite words are “once upon a time”!).
Posted on: 17 April 2013

For as long as I can remember, I have been enchanted by the power of words to transport readers to a world they don’t yet know.

And when I was a child, maps were a metaphor for a world I had not yet seen …

Whenever my two passions intersected, I was truly inspired. As manager of Writing Resources for World Vision, words and maps perfectly converged to send me to West Africa as part of a documentary team to tell the stories of projects helping third world families become self-sufficient. …

Now, I’ve finally reached the point where I am putting together the pieces of my life, word by word, shining a light on one of the recurring themes of my life. Finding just the right words to express a life map of sorts: to understand where I started and where I am going.

Citation: Judy, we feel certain you would approve of our fondness for Lewis Carroll, believing as you do in the power of words to transport us to other worlds (and also having worked as a first-grade teacher!). We’re with you on the map thing, too, as evidenced by our “Here be dragons” banner. And we love the idea of someone who has worked abroad, as you have (in West Africa), writing a “life map.” May we borrow this term?

3) ANN PATCHETT, best-selling American author

Source:What now? Advice on Writing and Life from Ann Patchett“—a post by Maria Popova on her Brain Pickings blog, containing extracts from Patchett’s 2006 commencement address at Sarah Lawrence, which has been published as a book, What Now?

Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, how one decision leads you to another, how one twist of fate, good or bad, brings you to a door that later takes you to another door, which aided by several detours—long hallways and unforeseen stairwells—eventually puts you in the place you are now. … But when you look ahead there isn’t a bread crumb in sight—there are just a few shrubs, a bunch of trees, a handful of skittish woodland creatures.

Citation: Ann, we know you intended your words for the ears of graduates from your alma mater, but they could easily apply to us displaced types, who spend a good deal of our time feeling lost and clueless. You go on to say: “Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.” What a marvelous assertion! Far more reassuring than the series of unhelpful responses Alice elicits from the Cheshire Cat after asking him: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” (What’s more, you’ve followed your own advice, booking a trip to the Amazon as soon as you decided to set your sixth novel there.)

4) LAINIE LIBERTI, world traveler and blogger

Source:Reentry Observations—Washington DC,” an entry on her blog, Raising Milo on the Road of Life—a single mom and son’s nomadic adventures as they travel around the world together.
Posted on: 29 March 2013

I imagined this country’s politicians, their assistants, their staff, all rushing away from the Capital, eager to go somewhere else. I imagined this was the group of stressed people who were running the United States of America. … I clearly have a different feeling about the United States now. I feel as if I’m on foreign soil. I don’t perceive the energy as welcoming.

Citation: Lainie, your description of Washington VIPs dashing about reminds us of Alice’s encounters with the White Rabbit. And we join you in wondering: don’t they realize that someday their actions will seems as trivial as some might perceive the ancient cultures of Peru? (Certainly puts it in perspective!)

5) LAURA J. STEPHENS, psychotherapist and author

Source: “Overcoming Isolation,” an entry on her author blog (she is the author of An Inconvenient Posting: an expat wife’s memoir of lost identity).
Posted on: 9 March 2013

For me, there was nothing in my experience quite so isolating as arriving in an unfamiliar country and trying to orientate myself, whilst experiencing the losses of “home” and all the while thinking I should be grateful for my new existence.

Citation: Laura, it’s great to know that someone out there understands the tendency for us expat Alices to declare “I am so very tired of being all alone here!” and then to suffer “pool of tears” moments… Not only that, but you provide practical tips to keep from drowning. What more can we ask?

* * *

So, readers, do you have a favorite from the above, and do you have any posts you’d like to see among May’s Alice Awards? We’d love to hear your suggestions! And don’t miss out on these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post—more writing advice from Jack (the Hack) Scott!

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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5 responses to “And the April 2013 Alices go to … these 5 international creatives

  1. Lisa Ahn May 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks so much for the shout-out. Judy’s guest post is really marvelous, and her blog is a treasure.

    • ML Awanohara May 7, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      We could not agree more! As with your blog, Judy was a fairy godmother to this one as well, giving us some invaluable advice in our early days (to which we still adhere). There is definitely something magical about her, and I for one look forward to reading her memoir!

  2. Judy Lee Dunn (@JudyLeeDunn) May 7, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Guesting for Lisa Ahn was such an honor! And thanks so much for the mention here. I am finishing my first memoir, but the second one will highlight what I learned in my humanitarian work in West Africa. So appreciate receiving this treasured “Alice Award” !

    • ML Awanohara May 8, 2013 at 8:00 am

      @ Judy
      Ah — hadn’t realized it was a two-part memoir. Maybe you can do a guest post for us one day on that decision? (We international creatives are ever curiouser and curiouser about the writing process, especially as many of us live in isolated situations…) The pleasure, and the honor, is all ours in having you on our Alice Award list!

  3. michelloui May 14, 2013 at 5:55 am

    Thank you very much for this! I’ve enjoyed clicking through everyone else on the list as well. I was especially enchanted by Judy Lee Dunn and this: ‘And when I was a child, maps were a metaphor for a world I had not yet seen …’ as I felt EXACTLY the same! I grew up with a Geopgraphy Professor for a father, so I guess it was inevitible for me.

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