Lucy Ferriss

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I've called this blog "Travelin' Thoughts" in the past, because I kept it mostly as a journal to record impressions of new places and cultures. But in a way, it's still a place for traveling thoughts--ideas that move through and past me, and out into the world. Some of these are literary, some just about life. It's a good place to open up the conversation, and I welcome your thoughts and comments.

"Concorde" and Writing about Foreignness

May 06, 2020

It's exciting when a new literary journal bursts onto the scene with a large vision and high values. So I'm very pleased to have my essay  "Chasing the Boy" and my story "Concorde" included in their Spring 2020 issue. Jordan Schauer also asked me to sit down for a virtual interview. At a time when traveling has become a dream out of time for most of us, it's fun to revisit the whole idea of living outside one's comfort zone. Below is one of Jordan's questions followed by my response; the full interview is now available here.

  • JORDAN: Can you talk a bit about your experiences abroad, living in foreign places, and how they have influenced you personally, professionally?
  • LUCY: I first lived abroad at age 15, when I was very unhappy at school in the Midwest and an opportunity arose to go on a school exchange to Belgium. I learned French, and I also learned that American adolescence wasn’t a completely necessary stage in life. Since then, I have lived in Europe on several occasions (working low-level jobs in Austria and France, house-sitting in Ireland, a Fulbright in Brussels, several seasons teaching in France) – occasions that are shared with very few of my family and acquaintances in the States, so that I’ve almost begun to feel like an alternate version of myself when I am lodged in a European country, especially one where I’m fluent in the language. This mode of living has deepened and complicated my feelings about travel generally. That is, I am far more interested in steeping myself in a place, in a culture, in a language, than I am in seeing sights, and I’m a bit of an evangelist about it; when I have taught abroad, I’m always exhorting my students to leave off being tourists in favor of making more profound connections. That said, I’ve now traveled to plenty of far-flung places – Pakistan, China, Australia – and those experiences have made their way into my writing. My 2012 trip to Pakistan, for instance, was research for what became my novel A SISTER TO HONOR, and I could not have written the book without the very personal connections I made there and the cultural understanding that finally sank in.

I wonder what foreignness means for others . . . for you. Are we deep in our comfort zones now? Or are we in places, however familiar to our eyes, that feel as foreign as anything ever has? Are we alternate versions of ourselves, this spring?

I'll leave it at that. Love to hear from you!

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