Friday, February 27, 2015

Writing workshops, book awards, and expat issues

Welcome to another international writing round-up. 

There are quite a few writing workshops coming up in Europe this year. Here are a few to consider:

WriteCon Zurich will take place March 21-22 in Zurich, Switzerland. It will feature programs like “How to nail your novel” and “Routes to publication.”

The Canal St. Martin in Paris
Amal Chatterjee will co-teach a weekend of prose and poetry in Paris. The course will take place in April at the PĂ©niche Librairie on the Canal St. Martin.

The Chamonix Summer Writing Programs (in coordination with Butler University) will feature both high altitudes and high levels of literature. Featured instructors for the June program include fiction author Anne Korkeakivi, memoir writer Cheryl Strand, and many others.

The Zurich Writers Workshop will take place October 23-25 in Zurich, Switzerland. Program will be announced soon.

In other news, nominations are now being accepted for The American Library in Paris’ 2015 book award.

And finally, if you’re an expat or interested in expat issues, The Wall Street Journal has an online section devoted entirely to you. Yours truly contributed a piece last week about Americans abroad not wanting their kids to be U.S. citizens.

Any news from your part of the world? Leave a comment.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The American Writing Group

Writer Abroad joined a new writing group. It’s a very organized, well-run group that includes writers of all ages and levels—and the best part is that Writer Abroad doesn't have to organize it. Unlike the Zurich Writers Workshop, which she co-founded since there was no other organization for English-language writers in Zurich, this group has already been in existence for many years. It meets every other week at the local library where writers of all ages read and critique each other’s work. Like all things American that she’s joined lately, Writer Abroad is the newbie.

As more of an outsider than most, one thing has struck Writer Abroad about the critiques in her new group: They are really, really nice.

“I loved this piece.” That’s how most people start and end their critiques.

So these writers either love everything they read.
Or they are lying.
Or better yet, they are American.

According to an article on, Americans give the most exaggerated, explicit, and positive feedback of any country in the world. And after being abroad for so long and working with so many nationalities, Writer Abroad completely agrees with this statement.

In her time abroad working with mainly German and Swiss nationalities, she became, well, able to give and accept more direct negative feedback. This is not natural for an American, but it becomes that way once you’ve been in another culture for several years.

When it comes to her new American writing group, Writer Abroad doesn’t want to be the strange European-influenced critic. She remembers all to well her first days in Switzerland working with Swiss and Germans who had no shame in giving her direct negative feedback, which, at the time, felt like a slap in the face.

Luckily, critiquing like an American is one part of returning home that’s been pretty easy to acclimate to. So if you come by her new writing group sometime, you’ll probably see Writer Abroad wearing big white gym shoes and saying things like “I loved this piece” whether she loved it or not.

Can you blame her? At heart, she’s always been American.


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