Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Writing in a foreign language

A lot of questioning in this post...

Before I started this blog I asked myself for a long time whether I should write it in French or English. 

I spent months thinking about it, trying to find other blogs or websites written by French people in English and couldn't find any (Of course, since I started I found plenty!). On one hand I thought I would reach out to a wider audience if I was writing in English, on the other hand, it felt more logical to write in French.

I've had mixed reactions about the language of my blog. Unsurprisingly, they all came from my French friends and family. You see, some of them don't understand what I write, and Google doesn't offer a very faithful translation. I can see some friends who "like" the links on my Facebook page but I know they don't read the actual post. They're just being nice and supporting me in what I do, but I well know they don't get a word I write. One of my friend told me it was a shame I didn't write in French because she was convinced it was interesting, but couldn't get herself to translate every time. On a more positive note, another friend had a completely different reaction and told me that thanks to my blog, she was brushing up on her English. I was really happy to hear that!

This is where it's becoming a bit tricky. As I'm trying to write a memoir relating my early years experiences as a French expat in Ireland, I'm wondering if I should write it in English or French. Words flow quite easily in English, but I think I'm better at writing in my native language, especially descriptions. Words come more naturally in French in that department, and I wasn't expecting that at all. I've started in English, but the more I think about it and the more I write, I feel like scrapping everything and starting fresh, in my mother tongue.

Although my English is good, it's not perfect. I know I make mistakes (even though I'm a spelling freak) and sometimes what I write sounds really French. Will writing in English give me a potential edge to be published one day because I would have done something a bit different? Or will it be to my disadvantage for the same reasons?

If I write in French, I will always wonder if I could have reached out to a much bigger audience. When I check my blog stats and find out that a third of my readers come from the USA alone, it gives me the confidence that I made the right choice to write in English.

But I still wonder if readers find it weird to read their native language written by a foreigner!

Maybe I'm asking myself too many questions (as usual) and should just follow my instinct, which is sticking with English.

What do you think?