Meet Marie Szamborski.
Marie, or @Shantiwallah on Twitter, is a recently enrolled student in MatadorU’s travel writing program and a teacher who has just taken the leap out of working in the classroom full-time to pursue her goal of becoming a full-time writer.
I’m totally inspired by Marie and enjoy her kind, gentle presence on Twitter, as well as the “I love” series on her blog, which pairs her evocative photos with simple observations about objects and experiences she loves.
I asked her a few questions via email:
Where are you from?
I was born in the US, but do not have a hometown as I moved… every two years or so growing up. The hospital near Miami I was born in was blown away by a hurricane so I really do feel rootless in that way. My parents are from Michigan and I went to high school in Atlanta, GA. My family now live in California, which is fun to visit, but I’ve never lived there so I’m a complete tourist.
I lived in the UK for 10 years where I did my undergraduate degree and met my husband. We later immigrated to New Zealand and have both become dual nationals. We’ve also done stints in Vietnam and Japan and have been very lucky to have traveled a lot in between.
Tell us about leaving teaching to write.
I’ve just left my 10 year teaching career (although I don’t believe you ever really leave teaching) to write full time. I know I sound like a complete suck-up to say so, but Matador was pivotal in this decision. Well, actually, the people I’ve met through Matador are the ones who have convinced me.
I’ve always been a writer, but I just didn’t know it. I’ve always kept journals and blogs and have even tortured my students by making them write journals and blogs. Which, might I add, they come to love in the end! It’s only recently that I’ve started thinking that I might be able to do this for a living.
I think the timing was right, because I started ‘meeting’ other people, who were writing on the internet, and exchanging dialogue about writing. Whereas in the past, my writing was really for me or my close friends and family, I realized that maybe I did have something to say to the wider world.
The thing about social networking is that it is not, as I once thought, just a venue for self-promotion but a link to the thousands of other people who think like you do. This ‘community’ is empowering.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently serving as the regional contributor for New Zealand at Pocketcultures.com. It’s a fantastic site aimed at getting the facts out about countries as seen from the perspective of locals who are living there.
I’m also using my applied linguistics background to do write some EFL [English as a Foreign Language] exams and textbooks for the Taiwanese market.
I currently keep a personal blog about writing, travel, and everything else, and also a food blog about the multicultural aspect of food in New Zealand. Oh, and of course, I pitch to Matador now and then!
But, for the future, I want to keep writing about identity, place, and experience because I really believe that honest exchange of information is the only real way things are going to progress in this world. The more I travel and learn about other people, the more I internalize that we all need the same things. I hope that by passing on stories and observations about how people live their lives in the places that I visit I can make a positive contribution.
Would you like to introduce yourself to the Matador community? Don’t be shy- send me an email at julie[at]matadornetwork[dot]com and tell me a little about yourself. Be sure to include the link to your MatadorTravel profile.