Posts Tagged ‘A Moveable Feast’

Book Project

November 5, 2022

So.

Here I am again.

Thinking about publishing a book.

But this time it is different.

This time I am ready.

Ten years ago I moved to Paris.

I moved to Paris to “become a writer.”

The truth was.

I already was a writer.

I had been a writer for decades.

I was on the cusp of turning 40 when I moved to Paris.

I am on the cusp of turning 50 now.

If you had told me that I wouldn’t really be looking at being published for a decade after moving to Paris.

Well.

Fuck.

I would burst into tears and likely thrown myself off the cutest nearest bridge.

Good thing I didn’t know.

Hell.

I had no idea ten years ago that instead of becoming a published writer, which, by the way, I am published–my dissertation was published on ProQuest on August 8th–I was to become a therapist.

I had no idea what Paris was going to hold for me.

It was terrifying, cold, heart breaking, wet–it rained a lot, and it snowed!

I got lost all the time–sometimes literally, often figuratively.

I spent a lot of time in churches–they are heated to a nice toasty warm that I would often find myself seeking reprieve from the weather in.

I wrote.

All the fucking time.

I wrote three, sometimes four, times a day.

I edited and re-hashed and re-organized a memoir.

I wrote short stories, poemss, blogs.

I wrote in my journal (s).

There ended up being many, many, many journals–all of which I still have.

I wrote in the morning.

I wrote in the afternoon–in cafes, my favorite being Odette & Aime.

Which was just around the corner on 46 Rue Maubege, I lived at 18 Rue Bellefond.

I would sit for hours in the cafe and sip at tap water and a cafe Allonge–which is basically a black coffee.

I was so poor.

Tit mouse poor.

Starving artist poor.

Hemingway in A Moveable Feast poor.

But like, Hemingway made it sexy.

I was not sexy.

I couldn’t often afford a cafe creme–thus the Allonge–I would eat lunch from the Monoprix–basically a Walgreens with a bit of a supermarket in it.

Lunch would be a single serving piece of cheese and a packet of peanuts.

Often accompanied by an apple I would buy from the Friday market around Square D’Anvers.

Once I treated myself to sausages, heaven, at the Friday market but only once–they were rabbit and to die for.

Breakfast was apple in oatmeal and milk.

Dinners were often from the roti chicken place down the street by the Metro entrance for the Cadet stop.

Not the fancy place up the road that was Monsieur Dufrense.

But the Halal place, the owner was sweet, the chicken was cheap.

I could make one of those last a good four days, sometimes five.

I worked under the table, nanny, dog walker, baby sitter, English tutor.

I took French classes that a friend in Chicago wired me money to go and do.

I walked everywhere, when I wasn’t on the Metro, which I used frequently as I had a Navigo monthly pass.

There were times, especially when I was doing baby sitting outside the periphery, that I realized, no one, not a single person, not a soul, knew where I was.

I was baby sitting in the ghetto, the low income housing, taking three trains to do an under table gig that basically paid 8 Euro an hour.

I walked past drug deals, prostitution, gambling places.

I walked briskly like I knew where I was going.

Irony.

The place was located on Rue Victor Hugo.

Sounds hella romantic.

Was hella sketchy.

I remember once taking a picture of the street lights reflecting in the rain, once, on a very early morning commute from my place in the 9th arrondisement to outside the periphery, at like 7a.m.

It was a gorgeous shot, the light, the reflection on the sidewalk, the darkness, the sheen.

I got so many comments on social media after I posted it….so pretty, so Paris, so exciting, lucky you, living the dream!

Sure.

The dream.

Which was actually a nightmare.

Scary, cold, intense, broke as fuck.

Taking an elevator up 9 floors in a tenement in the ghetto outside of Paris.

The kids were sweet, but they didn’t have books, they like to watch the Mickey Mouse Club.

The tv was their babysitter, except when I was there, I insisted on taking them outside.

The park in the middle of the low income houses.

I would watch them race around on their cheap plastic little scooters and stare at the clouds in the sky.

What the hell was I doing with my life?

Query another agent, send off another book proposal, watch my thin stash of Euros in my wallet slowly get a tiny bit bigger, after baby sitting, or tutoring, or house sitting, quietly buying my apples and peanuts and Halal chicken, and then have to pay a week’s rent where I was staying–in a one bedroom lofted apartment where I slept in the living room on a fold out futon that must have been 25 years old, it was so hard.

I didn’t usually have the month’s rent.

But I would pay week to week to week.

Living on peanuts and apples.

Like I said.

Hemingway made it much sexier.

So.

Ten years later.

Many adventures since.

So many adventures.

I am sitting in my very cozy, very pretty, one bedroom apartment in Hayes Valley in San Francisco.

I have a successful private practice therapy business.

I own a car.

A new one.

I have traveled back to Paris, and will do so again in December to celebrate my 50th birthday with a new tattoo from my favorite tattoo shop–Abraxas on Rue Beauborg in the Marais, where I will also be staying a beautiful and hip Air BnB, also in the Marais.

I will buy myself dresses this time instead of packets of peanuts.

I will buy notebooks from Claire Fontaine.

I will go to many museums.

And not on the free days.

I will have a lot of cafe cremes, and not a single Allonge.

I will eat a chicken from Monsieur Dufrense and an actual meal at Odette & Aime.

Also.

I will eat my birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant La Cantine du Troquet on Rue de Grenelle.

I will celebrate a dear friend’s wedding anniversary the day before–having become amazing friends in my Master’s in Psychology program, I have stayed at her family home in the Marais and as she will be celebrating, I will be at my Air BnB just a five minute walk from her home.

I will go to my favorite cafe, Cafe Charlot, which is open on Christmas.

I will be there for Christmas as well as my birthday.

I will take photographs and write, like I always do.

Although.

Hopefully I will not be writing agents to query them about a memoir, just writing in general, after scoring a few of my favorite notebooks, a small stack, at least five, maybe more.

I will instead be querying agents now about my book proposal.

Not exactly a memoir, but in a sense very much so, but with a different scope, seen through the lens of my dissertation, with beautiful photographs not take by me on my phone, but by the professional photographer I am meeting with next week for coffee in Petaluma–Sarah Deragon with Portraits to the People.

She did my headshots for my website and I adore her work.

I queried her if she would be interested in collaborating with me and I got a yes.

I’ve got some work to do before I see her.

Sketch out the book better, mock something up.

Cut and paste and write.

See.

I keep coming back to the writing.

Which is what I am doing, here, now.

Practicing.

I’m not exactly out of practice, I still journal every day, did it today, I’ll do it tomorrow.

But.

I haven’t been blogging in a while.

Time to polish the chops and sit at the keyboard and see where my meandering brain takes me.

I had not thought that it would be a time travel back to Paris ten years ago, I don’t often know where this page is going to take me, but take me it does.

I figured that the best way to put together my book proposal and manuscript was to open my blog and write my intentions and start from here.

I don’t know how exactly to get an agent.

But there’s Google for that.

I do know my dissertation is a mighty fine academic piece, but it’s not a book ready piece.

No one, well, my dissertation committee did, wants to read my Method and very few people are going to be interested in my Lit review, but there’s some juicy stuff in there.

Dramatic.

Traumatic.

Sexy.

Sad.

Transformative.

Pain.

Story.

There’s story and it’s good story and it’s got scandal.

And who doesn’t like scandal?

I’m going to risk it all and put it all out there with transparency and honesty and integrity.

And hopefully, someone will bite.

I want to do a kind of coffee table art house photography book with my poems, essays, blogs, memoir excerpts, and pictures of my transformation alongside the story of what I discovered with my research in my dissertation.

I also will write an epilogue with new insights.

The transformative tattoo; Walking towards joy.

Coming to you soon.

Fingers crossed.

Anniversary

December 1, 2012

Yes, tomorrow is one month here in Paris.

How did that happen so fast?

I cannot believe it.

Tomorrow’s anniversary happens to fall on a most auspicious day–first Sunday–which is free day at all the museums in the city.  My plan is to get up and go to the Musee D’Orsay.

Every one has said, dress warm, there will be lines.

In fact, most people have been a little disparaging of the crush and the overwhelming amount of people who go and have almost discouraged the going.

I don’t mind.

I like the weird stuff, the off the beaten track stuff, I will avoid the huge salons with the Impressionists and go there another time, maybe on a Thursday, when the museum is open later, 9:30pm, and just stroll about during the quiet of evening.

I will go to the walkway behind the clock and I will look out and I will remember the first time I was there over three and a half years ago and I will be glad.

Glad that I have made it back.

Glad that I get to have another go at being here.

Today, although I am loath to admit it, was just a quiet mellow day for me.  Rather on the cold side, dropped just under freezing–were there moisture in the air, there would have been snow, but really quite low-key.

I had thoughts of what I was going to do and I was going to go out and I was going to go to an all night Soul show at a club with my room-mate and an art gallery opening and then, well, I got hungry, cold, and tired all about the same time.

Sigh.

I still have to remind myself that is alright for me to slow down and not see and do everything all at once.  I have time.  I will be able to go to all night dance shows once I am a little more settled in.

Hell, it is just barely a month.

I did, as it was suggested, read and finish Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” in my first month of living in Paris.  A rite of passage has been done.  And I worked a little on my book.

No, not as much as I wanted to, but I still opened up the document and I did some editing.

I met some one earlier today at St. Elisabeth who comes to Paris for three months out of the year and then spends the rest of his time in the United States at a place in New Mexico writing.

He asked after the progress of my work and I said I did not come to Paris to write the book, I came to Paris to finish the book.

“Oh!  Well, that is refreshing, you’re in the editing stage?”

I applied in the affirmative and made a face.

He chuckled, “I LOVE editing.  I used to hate it, and now, it’s the thing I like the most about writing.”

“I wish I could say the same, I don’t hate it as much as I used to, but it is still a lot of work, I am still in the just wanting to sit down and write phase,”  I replied a bit wistfully.

“That will change, editing really becomes the best part of the show,”  he said with a grin and a far off gleam in his eye, I could  see him thinking about writing.  He is on his third book.

“I may need to talk with you once I finish it I said, I am 99 pages out of 235 done,”  I said and then, thought, that is actually not too bad, I am getting it done.  “I don’t know anything about anything as far as getting it published goes, I am going to need help.”

“We will definitely talk before I go back to New Mexico and we’ll connect on Facebook too,”  he smiled and I walked out the door and across the street to a new cafe on Rue Temple with a couple of ladies for a quick cafe creme before hopping back on the Metro and coming home to make lunch.

On the ride back I flipped through the last few pages of “A Moveable Feast”.  I thought it ended on a rather bittersweet note.

Consider too, that Hemingway never actually completed the book before he died.  The final book has been cobbled together by a number of different people.

However, what I did get, again and again, was the clean, spare, simple language and how often he had to remove himself from distraction to write.  How, some times the paragraph he wanted to write would take hours.

That made me feel better.

He wrote too of the power of editing and that what makes a great writer is knowing when and where to prune, how it makes the writing magnificent.

I thought of John Ater telling me about pruning rose bushes.

I thought of all the things I have let go to be here in Paris.  The job, the lover, the budding romance, the friends, San Francisco, and how spare and stream lined my life is.

Another thing I like is how Hemingway wrote of the writers uniform and that one as a writer does not buy new clothes–art yes, new clothes, no.  In fact, I almost bought some art tonight.  I was at an art opening in the Montmartre and was quite taken with a few of the pieces. I spoke with the artist briefly and expressed my interest and told him I wanted to buy.

Of course, I was also rationing my Euro, so, I told him, once I had money coming in.

Art

Shaun Harrigan

Shaun

Shaun

 

 

 

 

 

He was very sweet and said that we would talk a deal.

Then some one came over and asked after  a piece.  I said, “go get you some money,” and sallied forth into the night.

I came home.

I did not go out again tonight, despite the room-mate calling to see what I was doing and whether I was going further afield.

No.

Staying small, living large, resting up for the museum onslaught of tomorrow.

Preparing to edit my work a little more and allow myself the room to bloom, as I have been so actively pruning for some time now.

Soon the blossoming shall begin, I can feel it coming.

 


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