Friday, 4 June 2010

Writing in France...

... is not as magical as you may think. Oh, it's magical (MAGIC! SPARKLES!) but not like you'd expect. It's not like every corner has inspiration hiding in it, every cathedral is dripping with plot, every midieval village has ghosts that talk to you. I mean, that's what you'd expect, right? Right?
*not quite author-friends*
Moving to Europe has been a learning experience. I haven't been flooded with inspiration, it's more like... well, it's more like I've become an expert at picking imagination's pockets.
And authors, imagination carries around WEIRD stuff in there. Like unexpected horror novels!! Or oddly perky blog posts!!!! Or letters to people that you're never going to send! Or excessive exclaimation marks!!!!!!!
Shall I explain?
France is a different world, authors. At least, a different world from America. Here's the main difference:
Americans strike when they want better working conditions and only after several failed attempts at negotiations.
The French strike whenever they feel like they want a holiday. (not exactly, but close enough)
Americans eat like it's going out of style.
The French eat like the meal is never going to end.
Americans are all about getting the job done and getting it done well.
The French are all about getting the job done at some point in the future. And if it's done well, that's cool too.
Americans live to work.
The French work to live.
Americans want the yacht, the dream, the mansion.
The French want to go out to dinner with a man/woman they love.
Americans are ambitious for their future life.
The French are willing to sacrifice that 'perfect future' for a more enjoyable now.
Americans want things as convenient as possible.
The French want things as easy as possible.

Two different worlds, right? Both have good and bad, both can learn from each other. Americans can learn to stop sacrificing their current lives for a distant retirement they may never reach, and the French could learn how to their jobs well and on time.
So how does this relate to writing?
I have such an American attitude about writing. "Gotta get it done, gotta get it done NOW. Oh, and it's gotta be perfect. That too."
France has taught me to be a little less... well, psychotic. Seriously, my new sparkly French-self tells me to chill about the story. You have time, right? And you're in France. Enjoy the food! Stop freaking out about what isn't here. The story will come, and it'll taste better if you let it stew for awhile.
Obviously, I need a balance between the two. So here's where I pick imaginations pocket: Write every day. Write as well as you can. (American) Don't necessarily work on the same old thing day after day. Enjoy yourself, and it'll show in your writing. (French)
How do you write, authors? Are you American or French? Swedish? German? British? (Ah, the dry wit!)
(p.s. Mom just gave me a piece of SUPERDARKCHOCOLATE and now I feel all yummy and warm inside!)
Awesome contest going over at Taherah's blog! She's giving away three copies of The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, go enter! GOGOGONOWORIT'LLBETOOLATEANDYOU'LLMISSOUTONAWESOMENESS!
*For realz*

Also, I think I'm being inspired by CAPTCHA. My facebook one (I was linking to the contest) was Seafarer held. Like held what? Hostage? Story idea!! :D
So, there's this seafarer named Gus, and...
wait, maybe it should be first person?
So I'm a seafarer named Gus, and...
Maybe second?
So you're a seafarer named Gus, and....


Tahereh said...

that is SO SO interesting, Bethany. thanks for the perspective! haha i love that living there has at least taught you to be a little less "psychotic" hahaha

but i love more that you're enjoying the process!!

(and thanks for the linkage!!)


Creepy Query Girl said...

Being an ex pat myself (and living just outside Paris 12eme! - we should get together for coffee instead of bloffee sometime!)I totally loved your assesement between the american and french 'way' of things. It really is so true.

Jenita said...

Wow. That is pretty awesome, and that's a lot of enthusiasm for one blog post...

Seriously, though, it sounds like at least part of me was born French. Or, at least, I'm much more French than I am American (well, I wasn't born here, after all, so maybe it makes sense?) which might explain my problems with fitting into the expected system here... But, it's nice to know there's a nationality somewhere, somehow, that agrees with my worldview.

And, now that my hectic, American May is over, I shall move on to my enjoyable, relaxing, French June. =]

Zoe C. Courtman said...

That's so cool :D I think I like the French attitude a little better. I, too, suffer from the American "get-r-done" style of writing. I just HAVE to get it down. NOW. And it has to SHINE, dammit. SHINE!! Forget dinner, I have to WRITE!! lol.