I profusely apologize for my month long absence. What with finals and travel I was lacking blogging time. Having just returned from a year in the U.K., I would like to devote this post to the affect of cultural nationality in writing. The Anthology A World Of Difference along with my year long expat experience has made me realize the enormous influence one’s nationality has on the art they produce.
A World of Difference is an Anthology of short stories that focuses on cultural encounters and differences. Writers featured hail from South Africa to Kentucky, from Cuba to Cork. The diversity of the geographical locations and cultures is echoed in the writing of each. After leaving my homeland for a year, the reason behind this variety has become obvious. I had to leave America to realize how deep that part of my identity was ingrained.
As individuals, our identities are incredibly complex. Our gender, political affiliation, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic background, interests, and heritage all play a role in defining our place in society. A rich gay Swedish democratic atheist male interested in fashion living in New York has very little in common with a poor straight Irish Catholic female interested in shooting living in Arkansas, and yet both of these individuals have been brought up in the same nation that is at one divided and united. They have been raised with American values and though they may seem to share little, that national identity is much more powerful than one realizes.
I wouldn’t say I was especially patriotic before I left. Yes, I worshiped at the alter of the great Bruce Springsteen, I voteed, I rooted for the US in the Olympics, and relished the story of the Revolutionary War, yet I didn’t get teary during the pledge of allegiance, I didn’t read the US news everyday, and I toyed with the idea of leaving the US for a period longer than a year. That was until I lived abroad this year. Don’t get me wrong; I adored my time at St. Andrews. I met some of the best friends I will every make, but my time apart from America made me appreciate all of the wonderful things about our nation that I took for granted. America is the nation I grew up in, the one in which I formed my values, and whether I realized it or not, my nationality was a huge part of my identity.
The same is true for other nations. Each culture has it’s own valuable, flavor that is inimitable anywhere else. Your home nation is always a part of you no matter how far you go from it. That was obvious in A World of Difference. Each writer as an individual was clearly defined by his or her home nation. And so readers, think about your national identity. How does it define you and your art? I assure you, it does.