How I Wish It Were Me

I was all set to go with another topic in today’s post, but have decided to set that aside for the moment.

Why, you ask? I wanted to share with you some news from Jo Parfitt, my writing mentor, expat author of 28 books and publisher (Summertime Publishing) of the non-fiction book I’m trudging along on writing on emotional resilience in expat life.

I’ve written many times before about Jo, and for good reason. This smart, savvy, hard-working force of nature realized long ago that if she wanted to have an interesting career while living abroad as the wife of/plus one/significant other/accompanying partner of her darling husband, she’d need to take matters into her own hands.

Well, Jo not only grabbed matters by the throat, she’s throttled them handily and subdued them into compliant submission. As she lived and moved, moved and lived in foreign cultures, she has carved out an impressive career as a serial expat entrepreneur extraordinaire.

Look it up in the dictionary. You’ll see a photo of Jo next to the phrase. Really.

In addition to writing her own books, Jo began a career that has stretched from journalist and freelance writer, writing instructor and popular blogger, magazine editor to publisher and writing mentor. Along the way, she developed her own courses and instructional materials, and has taught hundreds of others how to launch their own writing careers in classes taught here in The Hague as well as programs around the globe.

Any time she hit a road block (the interruption of yet another pending international move, the ever-changing employment terrain), she merely redoubled her efforts and bulldozed over it.

Later this year, Jo will be the writer-in-residence for one week in Posaro, Italy. Writers of all stripes – aspiring, frustrated, flourishing – will be there for her residential course. They’ll have seven days of creative opportunity to write, learn, and write some more. All amid the sumptuous beauty of the Italian countryside. Don’t get me started on the luscious food, cappuccino, wine.

There is only a spot or two left. It’s still seven months away and yet almost fully booked. Oh how I wish it were me that could grab that last spot.

There are two reasons why I hold Jo in such high esteem. Not because she is highly successful. Or a talented writer. Or a well regarded, down-to-earth writing instructor able to coax the most nervous and timid into turning their thoughts into vivid prose.

She is all that, and more. Much more.

But the two reasons why I am in awe of her?

First, she never stops learning, stretching, growing. She hasn’t sat on her laurels, doing the same thing, year in and year out. You do that and accolades may come and life may be cozy, but at some point you’ll find yourself out of touch, soon to be out-of-date. Jo is always tracking the latest industry development, the newest technology and current trends. She is a consummate networker, not simply because she’s knowledgeable but because she’s fun. When she teaches a writing class, it comes with an indepth, up-to-the-minute understanding of what’s going on around the world in writing, publishing, book marketing and promotion.

The second reason is that with her own hyper-hyphenated career of many colors, Jo embodies the concept of embracing change and casting aside preconceptions.

You want to write articles for magazines, newspapers, websites? Let’s go! Do you have a novel in you, dying to get out? No time like the present. Been exploring the idea of a memoir/life story? Non-fiction how to book? Short stories? Poetry?

Jo sees the possible, and in true Nike style, says ‘just do it’. She gets that we are all different. More importantly, she understands that we may have several interests. No one was ever able to successfully tell Jo she ‘couldn’t’ do something; she just figured out a way to move forward. No one told her she couldn’t write across genres; she just did it.

I think of the dozen or so others I’ve met through Jo’s classes. We’re all unique individuals with different backgrounds, interests and stories to tell. We’ve all gone down different paths, have found our own ways to express ourselves. When I think about what we are all doing,  the careers we’ve developed, I get goosebumps. Imagine being Jo, having lit the lamp of possibility in us and hundreds more!

So whether your aspirations are writing a paragraph, a poem or a published book, you could not be in better hands.

If this is what you truly want to do, why not learn from the best in the most amazing environment imaginable?



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