Exciting news concerning you and me (the ultimate couple)- I just had my first article published! it’s for Focus Taipei, which is the English division of Taiwan’s national news agency.
It’s a humorous piece I wrote to get a laugh out of people living here who begin to notice little things they start doing or start getting used to once they live here a short while. I wanted to get people talking, to get them engaged and to reflect on their time here.
So far (it was only published a couple of hours ago!) the reaction has been generally positive which is encouraging. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks these things! It’s had thousands of views which is humbling and thrilling!
However my initial excitement about the article being published was quite quickly replaced by shock at the words of its detractors. Amongst the positive responses there has been some criticism that it’s quite “Taipei-centric” given the points about the MRT and Taipei 101. Which is a very fair observation which I can appreciate as it must be frustrating for those not living in Taipei to not be considered properly.
Of course, as someone who resides here in Taipei I can only make genuine comments about living here. I fully realise not everyone lives in Taipei, and that the smaller cities are just as important! I don’t want to appear ignorant of this. In retrospect the title and opening remarks should have made it clear it’s a list regarding life in Taipei.
Further to this were the more biting comments that I was ignorant of what it’s truly like to be immersed in Taiwanese life- that I was just just a clueless 20 something year old (apparently an American at that) who has no right to be writing such an article.
There were people who literally extracted every point I made and tore them apart one by one.
This I take issue with, because I, like anyone else who’s lived here for a sound amount of time can form an understanding of what life is like here. I have settled from the initial “shock” at the differences, made a routine and have managed to carve out a tiny place in Taipei which is mine. I have experienced the unique sights, sounds and tastes of Taiwan. I have built a life, albeit a temporary one from nothing to one which is enriched not only by my surroundings, but all the micro things that make life here “legitimate” if that’s the issue at stake.
To say that my opinion isn’t valid just because I haven’t lived here 10+ years is quite harsh. It was a humorous article that was meant to be light reading, not intended to stir up people to get passionately invested in it as if I was making a sweeping professional commentary on expat life.
Of course I can’t represent everyone’s view, and I acknowledge that I have no idea how it is to live here long term. I was making observations which I believe the large proportion of expats who chose Taiwan as their home could identify with- namely those who stay a reasonably substantial time (three month plus), statistically are most likely to be based in Taipei, and who since coming to Taiwan noticed that the “customs” or observations that were initially were foreign to them have over time become a part of them, whether consciously or otherwise.
I have respect for those people and their views, and I would hope this would be extended to me and my own.
At any rate, reading through the comments gave me an insight into how others live here that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.
I know you have to be tough in this industry, and you most certainly can’t please everyone. I just assumed that a humorous article wouldn’t rock the boat so much. Though in retrospect, I should have assumed some level of criticism. It’s obviously a good thing to get feedback from which I can grow from and write even better. I really do appreciate people sharing their views and I want to be the kind of writer who not only acknowledges constructive criticism but actively thinks about it and makes efforts to address the points in my future writing.
Putting your writing and views in public is not for the faint hearted. There are always going to be people who say you’re straight up wrong, or you write badly, or even worse things that attack you personally that aren’t even about your writing.
But, hopefully amongst that you can make someone chuckle or to think or to consider a different point of view. You have the capacity to make someone gasp, or reassess their point or view or even some part of their life, or if you’be truly written something brilliant- inspire.
That makes it worth it I think.
I’m only in the baby stages of this whole writing thing. I know I have a long way to go and am willing to work hard to improve.
One of my best friends said something really reassuring to me that I think will be a nice note to end on- “your words will never be all things to all people, but they are yours and a valid point of view.”