It’s been a little over a year since I started leavingamerika.com.
Originally, I’d planned to use the URL leavingamerica.com, but the squatter who domain parked it wanted 18 thousand dollars, so that never happened.
When I started this blog, it was early in the Trump presidency. I knew (a) this could be trouble for Arab-Americans, and (b) that I personally could not tolerate living in a country ruled by that asshole. So I made plans to leave the US.
At first I was going to move to Nice, France, but that turned out to be too expensive an option. So I went to El Gouna, Egypt, instead, and blogged quite regularly about the following subjects:
- Becoming an American expat
- Leading the immigrant’s interstitial life
- Literature and philosophy and the search for meaning
- What happens when you get older, including depression and health issues
- Travel observations in the South of France and a vibrant Middle Eastern country
I thought that five-pronged radius of topics would be broad enough to elicit a readership of at least a few thousand followers.
I thought my writing style was sufficiently engaging to attract many readers.
I thought the depth and real hurt that I talked about in some of the posts would resonate in some deep way with serious people, who, like myself, are adrift in this world,
This did not happen.
Most of the followers I did get (which never exceeded around 60) seemed to be shill bots that Followed this blog because of keywords like “travel” or “health” or “losing weight.” (I deleted most of them off my blog earlier today, btw.)
They never commented, of course.
In fact, only 2 people actually commented on this blog; one was an old friend, the other an articulate lady from Australia who had visited Dahab.
As for the rest, nothing, ever — or at best, rarely, briefly, and only after I initiated it by first commenting on their sites.
For I did reach out to other blogs, in particular, to people who ran blogs about topics that interested me deeply — such as modern Arab fiction in translation, or Arab-American fiction, or what is happening to my once beloved city of Alexandria.
But the response I received from them was usually tepid and often snarky. You always got the sense that somehow you were not important enough in their world.
In view of the anemic traffic (which I am publishing here, something very few blogs have had the courage to do unless they are successful), the inescapable conclusion is that leavingamerika.com is a failure.
Not through lack of trying, as I have worked hard to make it flourish, but it simply did not succeed.
So I’m discontinuing the travelogue.
Instead, I may, from time to time, publish capsule book reviews and brief cultural essays.
Perhaps a blog is an amateur’s distraction, a conceit, a thing to do instead of jumping off a bridge, when your life blows up — or maybe it’s a way to avoid coming to terms with the reality that you cannot actually write at a professional level.
I have no advice to anyone about what I learned about why this blog failed, despite the hundreds of original pretty pictures I posted and the tens of thousands of carefully crafted words I wrote during the past year.
I have enjoyed your blog very much and tried as best as I could to read you every day. I will miss your stories and vivid description of not only your time in Egypt but your time in the Trump land of Florida. May you continue to follow your dreams…….
Thank you, Rachel, for being a loyal reader. I will keep the blog up for a while, as a frozen record of my recent travels overseas. In the meantime, I will focus on writing the endlessly awaited novel. If any big news happens in that regard, I will update the blog. Cheers. ps would you be interested in reading capsule book reviews? I’m thinking of putting reviews of some of the ME-centric that I read all the time. These would not be posts, but drop down entries off the menu bar. let me know!
I’m astonished too that you didn’t get a much wider readership, although I’ve been a bit faithless since you returned to America, and I … well other things intervened, and I was trying to avoid Trump. Your blog was all the things you claim for it and I’ll be sorry it’s not there to drop in on, with its thoughtfulness and vitriol; its photos and its fluency; and above all its honesty. Good luck with the novel and fare well wherever you travel in the future.
thanks, luv. look for ME book reviews off the menu bar now and then. cheers.
Read ’em all! Thanks for the extended visit avec mon vieux pote! A un de ces jours!
Ou soirée, mais non kif-kif, forcément.