You’d think that my writing would have immediately found its expression in a blog. Yet, I never saw myself as a blogger. I’d got it into my head that blogs were the diaries of bored housewives, or the ramblings of conspiracy theorists. My hands, all callouses and scratches, were too dirty for all that typing, my brain not wired for the information technology required. I was completely computer illiterate. But underneath that bank of preconceived ideas subsisted the cornerstone of my prejudice. I thought writing was an art confined to books and newspapers, not something that flashed up on screen. And then, as usual, something in my life went ‘wrong’, and I was forced to reconsider all of that.
It is just now, as I tip over the first birthday of The Mud, that I remember how and why I started. It all began a long way from my remote mountain roundhouse in Turkey. The Mud actually took off in Taiwan.
There really can’t be two more opposite places on Earth than Turkey and Taiwan. With the exception of Istanbul, which is nearly a country in its own right, Turkey is all boundless space and rural wilderness. It is hirsute men and voluptuous women, exploding emotions and laissez-faire, tea breaks and ‘tomorrow’. Things take their time to move upwards in Turkey, just like the olive trees in the fields. And nothing goes to plan. You either learn patience, or you leave. Taiwan, on the other hand, is cluttered and fast. It is an island the size of Belgium with a population dense enough to make a mountain nomad’s eyes water. Metropolises back onto each other the length of the west coast. They form long trains of cuboid urbanity, and their streets are tight braids of scooters tied with colourful ribbons of fluorescence. Wherever you go, clouds of people (neither hirsute nor voluptuous) are going there too. Taiwan is convenient. It’s also workaholic. At least, I’ve never worked in any other country where a teacher grafts from 7:50 am until 5 pm.
Slowly but surely, The Mud emerged from the swamp of my ignorance. And low and behold, a niche for my dream of writing was sculpted into the ether. Thus, one year on, it’s time for a little gratitude towards Taiwan. The money didn’t last all that long, and I’m almost certain I’ll never teach in a school again. But I thank you Taiwan for technologising the hillbilly, so that she can live every aspect of her wildest dreams. And I thank all these things that go wrong too. Where would I be without them?