a.k.a “Why I Haven’t Been Updating This Blog Nearly As Often As I Should”.
I’ve been living in Italy full time for close to 12 months now. I just recently allowed this poor blog’s 5th Blogiversary to pass unnoticed, I haven’t posted since March, and that post wasn’t even about living in Italy.
Now, if I were looking at this from the outside, I would think all these things don’t really add up, vero? An Italy blogger who finally gets to live in Italy and doesn’t write about it? Non è possibile!
So what gives? I know my Mom would sure like to know. She’s my biggest fan and also cracks the whip every once in awhile wondering why I have not yet drafted some Italy-inspired capolavoro (masterpiece).
The situation had me scratching my head as well, so after a bit of Prosecco-fueled reflection (I do live in Italy, and I am still me) I realized exactly why the vitality of this blog has been diminished by my move to il bel paese. It all comes down to two ingredients that are present in much of my writing and cannot easily exist at the moment:
Nostalgia. It’s nostalgia in Italian as well, but pronounced noh-stahl-gi-ah.
Think about it:
I started this blog 5 years ago in Canada as a distraction from the final assignments of the Master’s Degree I was completing in – you guessed it!- Italian Studies. Yes, I then updated it regularly as I bumbled through my first summertime adventures in Italy when everything was shiny and new. But I then continued to blog during the following 4 years, when my time was spent predominately outside of Italy. To give you an idea, I think I spent 7 days here in all of 2012, but I cranked out post after post about the Italian (mis)adventures I had had in the past.
I’ve never been the blogger to write about things as they’re happening or even right after they’ve happened, and I don’t (usually) treat my blog like a diary, chronicling everything I do. There are some travel and Italy bloggers out there who are bravissimi at doing this, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to do it, and I’ve wondered about that through the years too.
Why don’t I have the creativity/interest/discipline to blog/tweet/Facebook/instagram daily/weekly/every hour/every minute like some others do?
Because I have to go through a whole process in order to produce posts that you want to read, and the process, I’ve realized, is something akin to wine making.
It goes like this:
1.) Something happens to me. Some accident befalls me, I make a gaffe of biblical proportions, I learn something new, I wind up in some eyebrow-raising, eyeroll-enducing Italian situation…
This is the grape-growing stage, the base ingredient for any wine.
2.) I think “this would make a good blog post”. Then, contrary to any writing advice I’ve ever read or received, I don’t make any notes at all. Not even on my aperitivo napkins.
This is the harvesting stage where I pick the best experiences, like the best grapes, and earmark them to be turned into wine.
3.) Time passes. I do a whole lot of niente (nothing) with these memories.
My grape-memories are poured, together with my feelings and thoughts, into barrels and are left alone to ferment.
4.) Nostalgia & longing. The earmarked memories come back to me even sweeter/funnier/more absurd than the original experiences that brought them to me, because they come back to me in a time and place when I can’t readily experience anything like them again. They take on a different quality.
The fermented grape-memories get transferred to another type of barrel, made from nostalgia and longing. The wine is infused with these flavours.
5.) I write. I start with the title and work my way down. No planning, no outlines, no nothing. Sometimes there’s some editing, but I write blogs in one sitting. If I save drafts to come back to later, I never do. I almost always publish immediately.
The wine is bottled, labeled, and put on the market for consumption.
[Please note: the final product of this wine/writing process process is not always a Chianti or Brunello. Sometimes, it’s swill. Heck, it’s not always even vino. Sometimes I end up with vinegar…]
So while the climate in Italy is perfect for an abundance of grape-memory growing and harvesting, it’s not one in which Italy-nostalgia flourishes. Here and now, Italy is my every day, my reality. I can stroll through picturesque streets and take in views of the Tuscan countryside whenever I want. I can have an infuriating experience at the Italian post office any day of the week (except Saturday afternoons or Sundays). I don’t need to reminisce and remember, I just need to step outside my door.
So when will I feel more motivated to blog about my experiences in Italy again? When I have some Italy nostalgia and longing to add to the raw material I’m collecting here.
And where do Italy nostalgia and longing grow? Buried under the snow of a minus 30-degree Canadian winter, of course.