Writing Life in Portugal

There’s nothing like retirement and moving to an oceanfront home in a foreign country to get your ink flowing as a writer. I may not be writing on my laptop at a white lacquered desk overlooking the sea, but I am writing, reading, and studying writing every day in my Silver Coast space of nearly eight months. Another hoped-for joy of living my midlife dream in Portugal.

Last month, I was introduced to a writing technique called “Solve for X” by author and memoir writing coach Nicole Breit of Spark Your Story Lab. I’d never heard of this technique before, and at first it sounded, well, a bit gimmicky. But as I played with it, I was surprised to find that by focusing on the technique’s rule (see if you notice what it is below), I was able to let go of my thoughts and let the words flow.

This is a departure from my usual content and tone. But Portugal is my muse as I put on paper snippets of stories from long-ago relationships, making room for the new relationships and new life I have here. Not all expat unpacking comes from boxes and suitcases. Some of the most important unpacking comes from hidden baggage too long stored.

Cheers to the writing life in Portugal.

He was almost. I'd known the folly all along, deep down in the shadows where I keep the things I've known but don't want to see. Just like I'd known he was lying in the very beginning. Kept on lying. Little lies becoming big betrayals. My brain saw it when my heart argued his case. Now, though, I think I've had enough. One lie became a string of so many that I lost track, and in the process lost me. "Pathetic" is what I've become. Quietly hiding him in stubborn memories. Refusing to release. Still seduced by hopeful dreams. There they are again, wretched thoughts. Under my skin. Volumes of a made-up truth. Wearing down my resolve. Xenophilia and the allure of his different-ness tugging me back where I don't want to be. Yearning for something that never was. Zigging, zagging around splintered pieces of what he was…almost.

Natalie Y. Wester
The Hot Goddess

All images are my own.

The Hot Goddess

Instagram: retired_rewired_inspired

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  1. An affecting and beautiful piece, Natalie. And you are so correct, “Not all expat unpacking comes from boxes and suitcases.” Sometimes it takes moving continents to unpack the long stored emotional baggage. Here’s to your writing life in Portugal! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t think of what the technique’s rule is, but if it had something to do with how powerful this writing is, it’s worth exploring further! It feels like your thoughts and emotions are flowing effortlessly. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian, thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I love that you found the piece authentic and real. I struggle with vulnerability when writing (and living, ha!), and I was surprised at the outcome when I tried this technique.


  3. Wow – that is a great piece of writing, Natalie! Powerful. And I was going to guess that it was using the same word in the last sentence as the first until I saw your answer to Jane. How interesting!

    Love this too, “Not all expat unpacking comes from boxes and suitcases. Some of the most important unpacking comes from hidden baggage too long stored.” Right!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that you are inspired to try new motivational methods for writing. Yes, a departure from your usual style but grand and loaded with voice nonetheless. Lovely, Natalie. I’m so happy that Portugal continues to spark your creative flame!

    Liked by 1 person

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