the book that convinced me to write a book
I'm a little late to the game on Eat Pray Love. I remember when it first came out and everyone was raving about how "you have to read this book, it will change your life!" usually when someone tells me that, it very much makes me not want to read the book. I actually went to see the movie with a friend... and was not that impressed. according to my friend, the movie was not anywhere near as good as the book. but it still didn't convince me to pick it up.
fast forward to this past june. Husband and I were visiting some of his co-workers who were leaving Taiwan and heading back to the states at the end of the school year. they were encouraging us to take any and all books off of their shelf- and the shelf too, actually- to lighten up their shipping load. [free/cheap stuff from moving friends = total #expatperk] most of the books were history or teaching related, but there were a few novels. Eat Pray Love was one of them... so I figured why not take it?
I didn't start reading it until we were in Thailand [photo above was taken in our hotel room the day I finally opened it.] I think less than five pages into it, I knew everyone was right. this book could change me, if I let it. Elizabeth Gilbert's writing was so easy and captivating. I instantly identified with her "blond-white-girl in a very non-blonde foreign country" dilemma of not being able to blend in, but still wanting to be respectful of the local cultures. the way she was describing what it is to travel... that was my life she was writing. and her complete honesty about everything just blew me away.
I blazed through the first section of the book. and then tried to slow down my reading so the book would last a little longer. I didn't finish the second section until we were back in Taiwan, and saved the last part until I was here in the states again. it wasn't intentional, but once I realized it, it was hard to ignore. in the book, she travels to three countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. I ended up reading the book in three countries: Thailand, Taiwan, and The United States.
the best part of the book, aside from her writing, is the journey she takes. not just geographically, but her own personal transformation. I found a lot of similarities to my own expat experience. I haven't gone through a messy divorce [thankfully, and I don't plan to] but I certainly made some serious and life-altering decisions when I left my job. and everything that follows when you abandon life as you know it and leave for a journey that's mostly unknown... she nailed it.
in fact, it got me thinking that if she can write a book about her life and travels... I could probably do that too. I mean, I already write a blog. how much more difficult could a book be? kidding! I worry that maybe my life isn't interesting or dramatic enough. but I think good books aren't necessarily good because of what they are about, but how you write them. we all have stories that deserve to be told.
and, believe it or not, there are stories you haven't heard. there are some things that just feel too personal to post on the internet. sometimes I tone them down or scrub them clean of emotion and you get the tour guide version. sometimes I write them out full-force in draft an then never hit "publish." but reading this book made me realize that there is a way to put those things out there in the world, honestly and authentically. [don't ask me why the idea of printing the words on paper seems less embarrassing, but it does.]
a part of me wishes I would have read Eat Pray Love sooner. that I would have realized how much I love writing sooner. but I believe this book found its way into my life at the right time. seven years, five years, even one year ago I wouldn't have gotten it like I did. I think my being an expat gave it a whole new level of meaning to relate to. I love this book for a lot of reasons, but mostly because this is the book that convinced me I should actually take that idea that's been bouncing around in my head for a year and go for it. this is the book that convinced me to write a book.
or at least, to try.