At a Christmas market in Kampala, Uganda, in 2013, I bought a cute thing from an art teacher who created cute and useful things to supplement her income. I liked the quirkiness of her style, and I liked chatting to her, and who doesn’t need an excuse to buy a cute thing?
I still have that cute thing here on my desk, because it’s the perfect reminder for everything I’m trying to do.
‘Be who are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.’Dr Seuss
Those words popped into my head again today while I was planning new ways to connect to my readers in the months to come, and because I decided I would be making this naked plea to you. (Even though I now realise I’ve written about this before.)
But you’re not going to mind, are you?
By now you’ve seen that little box sashay into view, at the side or up above, the one that eagerly invites you to Join my Journey. I don’t make the box pop up more than once, but that invitation is still there on the homepage, at the end of this post, on my Facebook page, and as an Instagram link.
Ugh, I hear you grumble, why does everyone always want my email address?
I used to think the same thing. But the more I learn about the creative life, and especially about making some kind of success of a creative life, one where success, at its most basic level = people reading or seeing your work, the more crystal clear it has become.
I’m the first to say that space in my inbox is valuable real estate – I don’t give it away lightly. But I had an epiphany a while back, after I’d been through my inbox, hit unsubscribe a few times, deleted the junk, archived what I had dealt with, and then, I made a cup of tea, and settled back on the sofa to read what was left. I had saved the best till last.
And what was the best? It was the handful of emails that I receive from my favourite writers, bloggers, podcasters, and creative businesses, each of which I looked forward to reading, because I knew there would be useful advice, a new insight or perspective, funny moments, inspiring creativity, or simply a moment of connection with that person whose work I admire and want to support. I enjoyed reading those emails like reading a magazine, and I get a little hit of dopamine when I see one of them land in my inbox, shining out among the rest of the junk and the nagging little tasks. Some of you are old enough to remember how it felt to hear the sound of paper slipping through the letterbox as a real handwritten letter from a friend arrived, or the sound of a fat envelope from your favourite band’s fan club drop onto the mat. Receiving those emails has become a digital, virtual version of that feeling.
Recently I’ve even gone looking for a place to sign up for emails from some people I want to support, because I’m using Facebook a lot less, and I realised I’d been missing out on some of their work. Which brings me to the other essential advantage of emails, for both the creator and the supporter – it cuts out the (greedy, algorithm-enslaved) middle man. I think everyone knows by now, that just ‘Liking’ someone’s page is no guarantee that you’ll see everything they post. Facebook or…well, it’s all owned by Facebook now anyway isn’t it…is under no obligation to share what I post with the people who’ve liked my page. It’s under no obligation to share with me the content I’ve actively chosen to follow. So the only way to be sure you are getting to see the work you want to support, or the small businesses you want to see succeed, is to invite them to your inbox.
Your inbox is all yours; no one can make things disappear from it before you delete them. No one can select a proportion of emails for you to receive. And when you don’t want to see something, you have all the control to unsubscribe from that email forever more.
And what I share in my emails? When I know for sure that the people who want to see it will see it? When I know that they have entrusted me with the valuable space of their inbox? It’s way more considered and heartfelt than anything I share on social media. It’s what I’m producing for my ‘true fans‘ and it’s where I know that I can build a relationship with people who are truly along for the journey. I don’t have a book to sell yet, and I’m not looking for financial support on Patreon. So all I ask in exchange is to squeeze into your inbox once in a while – if you are a true fan.
All of which preamble is to say, (as if you hadn’t figured it out by now) that I want you to Join my Journey! If you’re already along for the ride you know that I’ve shared news and insights that don’t make it on to the blog, as well as exclusive essays that include previews of my memoir-in-progress. Now that here in Denmark we have an almost-normal routine back in our lives, I am working away on the fresh ideas that have been gathering and brewing over those months of homeschooling and summer holidays.
If you Join the Journey now, you’ll get an exclusive essay about my complicated relationship with Venice – but you’ll have to do that now, because very soon I’ll replace that with something completely new, which is even more personal, and which serves as a kind of prologue to the book, but won’t be anywhere else. (Existing subscribers will get it too.) I’ll also be sharing more of what the book is about, how I get it done (and how I procrastinate), along with the usual updates about Expatting, Travelling, and Danish Living. And, every month, I’ll be giving you the exclusive chance to ask me anything: about expat life, the countries with lived in, how to really hygge, or my writing adventures. Or anything else! And the answers will slide unfettered into your inbox.
So that’s my request, and I’m leaving it here without shame, without fear or favour. Because I know you matter, and I know you don’t mind!