I am a published fiction writer and a trained anthropologist with a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London.
In 2013, I left my successful academic career in the UK and moved back to Croatia. I went rogue from a safe but limiting life because, for me, happiness is about freedom, not security. In Croatia, where life is more chaotic but also more soulful, I am finally doing my own thing under my own terms.
I have been writing most of my life, but still always wondered what I should be when I grow up. In a society where creative writing is not seen as a serious or a safe job, people easily forget their passion and look for more ‘concrete’ ways of making a living. I did too, for a long time.
My surname Pisac – which in Croatian means a writer – is extremely rare. People like to tease me about it: ‘so are you really a writer?’ or they assume I made it up. I always thought life couldn’t be so simple as to send me a message in the surname.
Yet, everything I did had to do with writing. I studied Croatian and English literatures and I published two books of short stories and a novel. My latest book Hakirana Kiti [Hacked Kiti, 2013] was short-listed for Croatia’s best novel in 2014.
I moved to London to continue my academic studies. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be, because ‘being just a writer wasn’t serious enough’. I finished an MA and a PhD in anthropology, but, strangely enough, my topics continued to be about literature. I thought academic writing, with its weight and social proof, was the answer.
Anthropology is an amazing science that opened up my eyes to see the world in ways I never dreamed of. I started seeing ordinary things from new perspectives and learned that there was always more than one way to ‘catch a fish’. Anthropology inspires curiosity, makes us more tolerant of differences between people and cultures and, ultimately, makes life more exciting.
I loved academic writing because I discovered every writing form is different. The more genres we master, the better writer we become. Sadly, academic texts reach a very small and specialized audience. It seemed such a waste of time for those exciting ideas to remain locked in an ivory tower. I always believed knowledge should serve all people, not only other scientists.
But being a successful anthropologist made my life more conflicting. I was split into two persons: a creative and an academic. Neither communities recognized the other. So I always had to change hats, depending on whom I was talking to. It was schizophrenic and it pushed me to make a risky but necessary move: I left both camps.
In 2013 life was scary: I was jobless, neither an academic nor a writer, and back in Croatia after 10 years. The only grounding I had was a small but loving group of family and friends. It turns out, this was the only thing I needed to create a happy fulfilled life.
Years back when I still wondered what kind of job would make me happy, a friend told me something ridiculous: ‘there isn’t a job in the world that would make you happy, you must invent one for yourself.’ He was right.
I started blogging on Zagreb Honestly slowly and tentatively. I never considered myself a travel writer, but Zagreb was becoming a tourist destination and needed coverage that was different from usual guides. I was in a unique position: both a local and an outsider who was rediscovering her city with fresh eyes.
Anthropology and travel are both about uncovering and understanding different places. And creative writing is the spice that evokes a deeply personal experience that people can relate to. This is what Zagreb Honestly is about. I write about travelling for experience, not sights. And my posts inspire people to reconnect with things and places they have been taking for granted.
Why the name Zagreb Honestly? Because it is my candid account of the city’s highlights as well as its challenges. In British English ‘honestly’ is also used to express disbelief. As in ‘Zagreb, honestly?… why would anyone leave London and live there…’
I did, and I’m having a blast.