culture, everyday life

Hopping on the Tour Bus: My Writing Process

Bee yourself

Bee yourself

Today I’m linking up with Noony at From Laos with Love for a Writing Process Blog Tour. She has become a fast friend through blogging. Her blog immediately caught my attention because she writes about Lao culture in the diaspora and gives readers a glimpse into her family’s immigration story as refugees from Laos.  Being that Daniel is Laotian, I hear similar stories from my mother-in-law. However, not many people are documenting these stories from an insider perspective the way that Noony is on her blog.  I look forward to reading her posts and am thankful that she writes about her experiences as a Lao refugee. What I’ve come to find out is that not many people know that Laos is even a country, let alone that the Laotian people suffered so much during the Vietnam War.  Props to Noony for telling her story with eloquence and candor.

And the bus rolls on….

 

The Questions

1) What am I working on?
I don’t know that I would say I’m “working on” anything really. I began this blog because I love to read blogs and because, at one time, I liked to write.  I still do like to write (sort of) and this blog is my space to document life as I live it. I tend to have a bad memory so I want to remember the mundane and the not-so-mundane happenings in my life.  As an anthropology major I consider culture my first love. Marrying a Lao guy gives me a bicultural perspective from which to write and my next project for posts involves examining how we navigate these two cultures in our everyday life. So I guess that’s what I’m working on.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My work is different from others of autobiographical writing because of the various lenses I view the world through.  The lenses of anthropology/culture and faith shape the way I see the world and, consequently, what I write about.  As a Catholic married to a Laotian, I have a unique perspective (as does everyone else–Ironic, huh?) on life and I infuse my writing with these themes.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Writing about the mundane is important to me. Perhaps it’s the cultural anthropologist in me that is more interested in everyday life than about the extraordinary parts of life.  This is why I write about the everyday happenings and milestones in this life that I share with Daniel.  I want to remember what it felt like during our first year of marriage to be able to take a road trip at the drop of a hat and not worry about the laundry or packing for a baby.  I am nostalgic like that and it breaks a little piece of my heart when I throw away a birthday card from two years ago–even if the sender simply signed their name and didn’t offer any personal greetings.  It is this yearning to remember simple things that drives my writing.

4) How does your writing process work?
Being the rebel that I am, I have never really embraced a writing process.  The only time I willingly used a formalized writing process was as a second grader learning “rainbow writing” where you use green, yellow, and pink strips of paper for the introduction, body, and conclusion of an essay.  Once I got to high school my “rough draft” was simply the first time I wrote my paper and the “final draft” was the second time I wrote it paying more attention to my penmanship or grammar. I write exactly what I think.  As I think, so shall I write.  Any other way doesn’t feel authentic. Some teachers/professors would say “Your writing has great voice” and others would say “This isn’t how you write a professional, collegiate paper” and I would say “frank you” (substitute another f word, substitute I don’t care, but mostly substitute- I do what I want.)  Once I’ve written what I have to write, I read over it and if it sounds weird in my head, I change it. I know–fancy, and complex. Two words I’d not use to describe my writing or my self. 

 

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15 thoughts on “Hopping on the Tour Bus: My Writing Process

  1. I love that you emphasize the everyday occurrences rather than “extraordinary” ones. To me, not enough people take the time to cherish the small moments of each day. They are what make our lives unique and, in fact, extraordinary. 🙂

      • Aha! I thought so..but could have been way wrong, too. 🙂 My concentration/area of interest is cultural anth. Was yours bio anth?

      • Yep! I am interested in how cultural norms influence health too. It’s a big part of public health (my graduate degree). So fascinating!

      • That’s so interesting! And now explains your comments about The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down book. I wonder if areas with a high concentration of immigrants/refugees have certain public health issues that don’t affect other places.. But that’s kind of a redundant question because most certainly I would guess they do see differing public health issues. For example, where I live there is a very large Marshallese population (of the Marshall Islands) and we have seen an increase in TB cases.

      • Yes, excellent observations. Refugees from Southeast Asia also have high prevalence of TB and intestinal parasites. My own paternal grandmother died of malaria and they didn’t take her to the hospital because 1) it was a good distance from the village and 2) they thought she was cursed by bad spirits. You’ve just inspired an upcoming post!

      • The impact of culture runs deep. Glad to inspire a post. Sorry to hear about your grandmother. Health issues are dealt with very differently in that part of the world, it seems.

      • Yes, which is why it is important not to view things solely from our own cultural lens. It’s very difficult though, if one has not spent much time outside of one’s own culture…

  2. Love the cultural anthropology perspective you bring to your thoughts here. I’m married to a European and it’s amazing how our perspectives differ even from similar cultures. And that thinking does permeate my writing and child rearing, etc. It’s a wonderful challenge to have! Keep on writing!

    • Yes! Thank you! It is interesting to be a “participant observer” in a bicultural family. Sometimes I forget that my husband was raised in a different culture and then other times it’s very apparent. It’s a compromise, but then how do you compromise with culture? Interesting thoughts!

      • “Compromising with culture”… that sounds like a fabulous article in the making! Do stay in touch! I love how blogs put me in touch with intelligent, like-minded explorers out there. And we’ll have to watch out for that observer bias in writing “what we know” from our lives, mustn’t we?

      • Very true! As much as I “think” I know about Laotian culture and as much as I feel like I’m Laotian when I’m around my husband’s family, I’m not. I never will be. He even says that I’m Asian sometimes. And I remind him that I am White. We don’t have children yet, but I wonder what it will be like when we do. How does one go about navigating two diverse cultures in a marriage, let alone navigate two cultures with kids in tow?

      • That bi-cultural navigation with children–is a dance. Sometimes a tango, sometimes a botched up chicken dance – that smacks of a cultural parody. It can be trying , preparing kids for potential life in two cultures. When I lived with the Eskimos in my twenties, I vowed I wasn’t ready for a cross cultural marriage. And I wasn’t. And as similar as the German culture is to mine, the children are now making choice that both bridge those cultures and select one over the other. For example, my senior in HS has eschewed volunteering bc her father said it’s not that important in Germany, yet I wonder if sending her over every summer for German school has given her enough language background to ensure her success in a German apprenticeship? These are the questions and balances in my case. And we won’t have answers for a while. And they are big BIG questions and IF’s… but on balance, I believe biculturalism is a blessing!

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