Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘The Nice Thing About Strangers

I love blogging for many reasons, but the best part is the wonderful people I have connected with in the blogging world. I am not sure how I met Paige, but I fell in love with her blog site immediately and have been following it for some time now. It is apply called, The Nice Thing About Strangers. Since I have always followed the philosophy of Will Rogers who said, “A stranger is just a friend you haven´t met yet,” the title grabbed my attention. Paige has the amazing ability to notice the smallest details of human interaction during her travels and record them in entertaining vignettes. Do yourself a favour and visit her blog, you will be so glad you did. She has recently collected some of these blog posts and published them in a book called, The Nice Thing About Strangers. In spite of the fact she is busy travelling again, she has agreed to be a guest on my blog.

Paige

Welcome Paige Erickson

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

I am an American professor with a background in literature, philosophy, and playwriting. I’ve been working for several years on writing creative non-fiction from my travels on a blog called The Nice Thing About Strangers and recently collected about 150 of the stories into a book by the same name. I love reading, roaming, and long walks where I get a bit lost.

2. What made you want to travel?

This question made me pause. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I didn’t travel to Europe for the first time until I was 27, and there was something very freeing but also very intimidating about it. Now I want to travel because it always pushes my boundaries, opens my eyes, gives me gratitude, and connects me with people I meet.

3. What countries have you travelled to? Can you name a favourite and why.

I had the opportunity to live for a few months in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Turkey. I’ve been to Bosnia-Herzegovina several times and loved it. I traveled with my brother to Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Then, I first came to Europe for an extended stay, I took a lot of four-to-five day trips to Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Iceland, Serbia, and Montenegro.

Turkey is a favorite for me. I’ve been toiling over the language (then going home and forgetting it all!) for several years. I find the people to be very warm and encouraging. I’ve enjoyed both the big cities and small towns, the grand adventures and the local supermarkets. Iris Murdoch wrote, “If you long and long for someone’s company, you love them.” This sums up how I feel when I am away from Turkey for a long time. I must be in love.

4. What made you decide to create your blog, The Nice Thing About Strangers?

I am a professor and my students were always interested in the fact that I traveled alone. Many were worried about my safety and wanted to hear if I had any horror stories to share. Originally, I wanted a place to share the good news from my travels, since almost all of my encounters abroad have been positive, full of helpful strangers, or moving to me in some way. Also, I wanted to give myself some writing deadlines to produce stories and share them with others. I’ve loved to write most of my life, but it can be intimidating to share one’s work. I thought if I could get into the habit of writing on a schedule, this could give me some confidence. Also, I opted to write very short, non-fiction stories because I had a lot of notes about my experiences, but if I wrote long pieces I would procrastinate and/or quit. By keeping it brief, I could discipline myself to let go a bit.

5. Tell us about your book

The book is a collection of about 150 stories from the blog. I have friends and relatives who were interested in my stories, but who weren’t really into blogs. My aunt encouraged me to publish my work, and it’s been nice to hear from readers of the blog and new readers as well. Since each story is about a page long, people seem to like to read a few stories at a time with breakfast or over coffee. I hope it will help them to be on the look out for opportunities to connect with the people around them throughout their day.

6. What do you like to read? Can you name some of your favourite books and/or authors.

I think I learn the most about myself when I read fiction. Since I was a child, I could really get caught up in stories and feel the rest of my day was a matter of walking around in those stories. I love the Hungarian author Antal Szerb’s Journey by Moonlight. My best friend is reading it in Hungarian and, of course, I read it in translation, so we are anxious to see if we’ve loved the same passages. I love Iris Murdoch and Flannery O’Connor. I read Orhan Pamuk when I am “homesick” for Turkey. On this trip, I packed Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, which I am reading for the third time and I love it more and more on each read. I get caught up in lines that really stick with me, so I keep a “book book” with lines that I love. This way I can re-read those passages or lines and meditate on the story once more.

7. What inspires you?

Small moments that I get to observe inspire me and make me grateful to be able to wander as I do. Sometimes I will pause and imagine what my grandparents would think of my life. Surely, they couldn’t have imagined that I could go rent an apartment in Istanbul for a month and chit chat with the elderly ladies at the market. I also try to remember my childhood self, who was unafraid to make up stories, plays, and plans, but quite afraid. I want to be faithful to “young Paige” as I keep writing and remain optimistic.

8. What is next on the horizon for you?

I am hopeful that I can finish an often-abandoned novel this year. It is a sort of thank you note to the people who became my friends during my travels. As often happens when you want to thank someone, it can be hard to find just the right words. This is where I am stuck now.

Paige

Thank you so much Paige for sharing your thoughts. It was great getting to know more about you. My favourite line is, “I want to be faithful to “young Paige” as I keep writing and remain optimistic.” We all need to be faithful to our young selves.

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Check out the book http://www.amazon.com/The-Nice-Thing-About-Strangers/dp/0692590781

The blog http://thenicethingaboutstrangers.com/

The Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/thenicethingaboutstrangers/?rc=p

 


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