Have you ever been told something about yourself and been completely stunned? For example, you arrive at work confident you’re a trendsetting fashionista. Later, a stylish colleague gently asks why you basically wear the same outfit—essentially a uniform—every day. That night you retreat to your wardrobe to discover it appears as scintillating as last year’s Tweets.
Something similar happened to me in 2016. My husband and I had been living in Portugal for four years, and we were chatting with an expat at a party. “I detest travel writing,” he said, as he referenced my blog. Flattered that he’d checked me out but taken off guard, I insisted that I posted on a variety of topics. He shrugged and changed the subject, leaving me bewildered.
Guess what? He was right. After reviewing blog archives on my website, I had to acknowledge a clear tourism bent.
In fact, I had unwittingly tiptoed into the world of travel writing several years before, when a short piece of mine about moving to Portugal was published in International Living, a publication my spouse had subscribed to for years. I had viewed it as a personal essay, consistent with my penchant for writing memoirs. And yet…
I then began writing and later promoting my third book, forgetting about magazine submissions. Several years later I saw an article about Portugal in IL written by the editor with whom I had worked. I wrote to compliment him, attaching a pdf, “How To Be Portuguese Without Really Trying,” which I had written for my website.
He offered me a contract as the company’s Portugal Correspondent, a position which entails not only writing, but speaking at conferences, enabling me to introduce my books to a broader base of potential readership.
What’s the takeaway?
1. Listen to others. It’s often easier for someone on the outside to see you better.
2. Don’t judge yourself harshly. Life in general is a learning process, and the writing life is no different.
3. If you always write in the same genre, maybe that’s because you have a talent for it. If you enjoy it, stay with it, but…
4. …also stretch yourself by dabbling in other literary forms.
5. Find inspiration in literary competition and contests. The precision required to craft short stories, poetry, and flash fiction is great, but obviously it takes less time to pen a limerick than a tome. If you’re a marathoner, try sprinting.
6. Dabble in different creative outlets: study a foreign language, learn to paint with watercolors, etc. You are almost to certain find the written word flow more easily when you return to your current project.
7. Expand not only your creative, but your geographical horizons. I had retired when I left the U.S., and an entire new phase of my life opened up by embarking on a fresh career. With the Internet and Skype, money transfer systems like Zelle and PayPal, and the proliferation of expats overseas, you can work if you wish, and enjoy plenty of company.
Native New Yorker Tricia Pimental has written three award-winning books: recounts the wandering path she took before becoming a Christian; Shas been called “honest and engaging,” “delightfully entertaining,” and “refreshingly down to earth” in an Epic Book Quest 5-star review.
As Portugal Correspondent for International Living, Tricia has written and a video series, . She contributes monthly to both the digital and print magazines and speaks bi-annually at conferences and other events in the US and Portugal.
Tricia has been featured on CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg’s Peter Greenberg Worldwide, Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch with Catey Hill, Business Insider, Dance Past Sunset with Brant Huddleston, Generation Bold Talk Radio with Adrian Berg, and elsewhere.
She and her husband, Keith, reside in Portugal, but she retains membership in her beloved Florida Writers Association. She invites you to visit her at triciapimental.com.