The Next Big Thing is a huge round-robin blog-hop of writers, authors, bloggers and journalists who share what they are embarking on next. The format is a set of questions, which can be varied depending on whether the current baton-holder is an author of books, or an online blogger.
Rachel Webb, who blogs as “Andalucía Explorer”, passed the baton on to me, and I was very honoured to accept it (especially once I’d put The Next Big Thing Bloghop into my search engine and found all the amazing writers who have taken part!). Here’s Rachel’s “Next Big Thing” entry ….. http://andaluciaexplorer.blogspot.com.es/2012/11/the-next-big-thing.html and you can also see her blogs about Andalucía at http://andaluciaexplorer.blogspot.com.es/ She’s a great inspiration to me and sometimes she must feel she has a stalker, as I often turn up a few days later at the places she’s written about!
So here are my responses to the questions, and at the end I’m passing the baton on to two great writers and will encourage you to hop over to them too.
What is the working title of your project?
I blog under the title of “A Foot in Two Campos”. It’s an ongoing project which I publish on two sites – its home-base on WordPress where I can usually get the pictures into the right places within the text, and additionally in the blog section on an expat forum called Eye on Spain, where it gets significantly more readers but I can never get the layout quite right.
Where did the idea come from?
I’m lucky enough to live in the two most beautiful places in the world – Shaftesbury in Dorset when I’m in the UK, and Colmenar in the Axarquía region of Málaga province during the increasing amount of time I’m in Spain. So the original idea was to compare living in the two rural market-towns, and to compare customs, traditions, and the ways of life. Hence the title “A Foot in Two Campos”.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your blog?
I use day-to-day incidents to illustrate the process of settling into a Spanish village, while occasionally introducing a broader more philosophical analysis.
How long do you spend writing posts for your blog?
Not long! I try to publish about twice a week, though I have no fixed deadlines so am able to be flexible about that. I rarely have to sit down and think up a topic to write about – they invariably arise naturally during the week and once I’ve got the idea the words come easily. Often the philosophical side is entirely unplanned and I find that the blog-post has gone off in a direction I hadn’t expected. Usually that’s OK but I need to be aware of not crossing the line between a post being emotional and sincere, and being schmaltzy.
To what book would you compare your blog?
Hmm, difficult one. There is not exactly a shortage of Brits writing about living in Spain! I love Jason Webster’s books about Spain for being very political yet hugely readable and funny. John Hooper’s “The New Spaniards” should be required reading for anyone wanting to understand more than just the Spain of our holiday experiences. Giles Tremlett’s masterly book “Ghosts of Spain” guides the reader through “el pacto de olvido” (the pact of forgetting, or rather the pact to avoid mentioning the uncomfortable past). But I couldn’t compare myself to any of these writers because (a) I couldn’t construct and write an entire book, and (b) their research and in-depth knowledge are phenomenal.
As someone who struggles to define myself as a writer (I see my blogging as a distinctly inferior sub-genre), it’s probably easier to compare myself with other bloggers. Amongst those I follow I’d probably say that I have most in common with East of Málaga, though she uses words to illustrate her photos, whereas I use photos to illustrate my words.
Who or what inspires you to write?
My village, Colmenar, and the surrounding area – the beautiful Axarquía region. But having said that, I’m not a travel writer. The places do inspire me, but it’s the little daily incidents within those places, my reactions to the life going on around me, and my Spanish neighbours’ reactions to my reaction! For example, it was my neighbour’s confusion as to WHY I wanted to take a photo of thousands of almonds on his living room floor that was more interesting to me than the almonds themselves.
Threading through the stories about Spain is an underlying story about finding my feet after my mother’s death this spring. Often after writing a post it reminds me she would have been very happy to see me settling down in Spain and so I think of her when I’m writing even when she doesn’t appear in that blog post.
What is on your agenda in the next month or two?
We’re coming into winter, so I plan to write an honest experience of that – no pretending that it’s a sunshine paradise all year round. I have a number of bookings for my bid-writing training courses for charities to prepare for www.tessex.co.uk
What is your dream of a next big thing?
I’d like to broaden my readership, so I need to find more places where potential readers gather online. I also want to improve my photography in order to illustrate my blog better.
What else about your writing might pique the reader’s interest?
I think some of the posts are quite funny! I’m told that some are moving. There’s some practical stuff in there which is targeted at people considering moving to Spain (those are probably the posts that get the most comments and questions). I think I sometimes have a quirky outlook which keeps the blog lively. Plus if I’ve nothing to say then I don’t write!
Well, that’s me done, I’m delighted to pass the baton on to two more writers – Lynsey Drake and Annie McDowall.
Lynsey is one of those busy multi-talented women you like too much to be jealous of! Based in the Axarquía region, she runs a successful home catering business, hosts wonderful dinner parties, runs cookery courses, and still finds time to blog about food.
Annie is what I think of as a “proper” writer because she writes books. Her first murder-mystery novel “Charity begins With Murder” appealed to me because of my own work within the charity sector, plus it’s a jolly good read. I’m following the development of her third novel during National Novel-Writing Month.
I had hoped that East of Málaga would receive the baton as well. She’s travelling in Australia and New Zealand and not close enough to a computer, but I commend her blog to you anyway.
© Tamara Essex 2012