Cody McCLain Brown
I’ve written a book. It’s about Croatia and my punica. In fact it’s called Propuh, papuče, i punica. I’ve been describing it as the story of my evolution from stranac to zet.
Three years ago when I first arrived in Croatia, I had no idea what a zet evenwas. What’s it take for a guy from Oklahoma to come to Croatia and write a book about a guy from Oklahoma coming to Croatia? Well, it took a typo, the internet, and a little personal initiative. Back in November 2011, I started my other (now neglected blog) called Zablogreb. I used it as a place to write about all the cultural differences between the US and Croatia, eventually. First I just wrote about economic policy, no one read it then. Once I shifted to writing about propuh, tramways and coffee, the blog began to become popular.
The Best Mistake You Can Make
Then one night in August I posted something to the blog’s Facebook page. There was a big grammatical mistake in it. The next morning I woke up and saw the mistake and panicked. For an aspiring English teacher this was quite embarrassing. I changed it and then began chatting online with one of the blog’s readers about why I took down the original post. Well, that person, Dana, happened to be an editor for Algoritam. When she told me she was an editor for a large publisher I asked if they wanted to publish my book. She said she was interested to see what I had in mind.
Now, it turned out that I had already written a book proposal based on the blog. The idea was that with 12 million tourists coming to Croatia each year there was a need for a funny, engaging book that explained some of life in Croatia. The only books I saw on the bookshelves about Croatia were either about the War or where stuff was. There was nothing about Croatian culture, the people, and society, which I had grown to love. I sent the proposal to my future editor and five days later had a contract.
10 months later and the book is published in English and Croatian. The English title is, Chasing a Croatian Girl: A Survivor’s Tale. And in the meantime I got this sweet job writing this weekly blog for the Voice of Croatia.
The Point is?
You never know what’s going to happen. I’ve aspired to write books since I was 18. Did I ever dream that my first book would be written about my life in Croatia? Um… no. While I had a plan and the goal of writing a book, it took a mistake for me to find the opportunity to do so. The point is (especially to young people, who I believe feel overwhelmed by the uncertain state of the future) the future is always uncertain, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. The effort you make, and your mistakes may lead to a better result than the best laid plans. It might lead you to write a book about your mother-in-law.
A hrvatski zet raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I am frequently shocked, confused, and pleasantly surprised about the differences between life in America and life in Croatia. This blog is an attempt to understand many of those differences. As a member of the English staff of the International Program of Croatian Radio - on the Voice of Croatia, I’m hoping to explain Croatia to the English speaking community, and maybe explain some of the English speaking world to Croatians. I also write another blog with similar themes called Zablogreb.