Writerly Observations From Paris

Nothing like three weeks in France, with the last ten days in Paris, to clear your head.

That’s the theory.  Fact is, though, we’re writers.  So a place like Paris doesn’t clear your head, but rather, it fills it with passion and romance and, if you don’t live in New York and know the drill, an unrelenting fear of their Metro train system.  All those skulls in the catacombs there, which you can visit for 20 Euros and a strong stomach?  Some of them belong to Americans who never made it out alive.

If you have an ongoing literary enterprise – as a blogger, a novelist, a story coach and a workshop presenter… I have four of them – the notion of a leisurely vacation becomes a myth.

Because the mind reels with possibilities within shouting distance of the Seine.  Seriously, I hatched a new paranormal romance novel watching two lovers sipping cappuccino at a sidewalk café in the rain (one of them looked to be recently deceased, hence the paranormal concept), and it won’t be nearly as cliche as that sounds.

Never mind all the other romantic, erotic, thrilling new novel ideas that popped into my head in places like the top of the Eiffel Tower or the remodeled steps of the Sacre-Couer (a place that makes the Cathedral of Notre Dame look like a country church).  Those sidewalk cafes are mighty rich turf for storytellers.

In between all those flashes of architectural and medieval inspiration – don’t tell my wife, I promised her I wouldn’t “work” on this trip – I did notice a certain presence of literary love and cultural proclivities  among Parisians in a way that you rarely see here in the States, or at least were unexpected.

Allow me to share a few of them with you.

They read… everywhere.

read on trainOn the trains, on the sidewalks – literarlly, not only did I see people reading while walking, there were also sidewalk book vendors to be found.





I now understand why Dan Brown set his story in The Louvre.

The place is a small city, and within minutes the newcomer is totally lost.  Not to mention all those medieval visuals.  More death on those walls than at a Clive Barker film festival.  If you read the novel, you’ll find yourself wondering where the opening scene went down as you stroll the galleries.

Self-publishing can get you a movie deal with French sub-titles. 


In case you’ve been on an island for the last few months, a little self-published novel entitled The Martian has become the dream shot of anyone who has ever written a story other than Jonathan Franzan.  Admit it, the thought of walking the streets of Paris and seeing your novel having been made into an American movie showing three in French subtitles… doesn’t get any better than that.




Parisians kiss a lot.  They also bite.

photo 4 (2)

This one was on every corner.  It took me a while to look closer… this is foreplay for Parisians.






They also smoke a lot.  I mean, a lot

photo 2

This pic was fifteen feet high on the exterior wall of the Gare Lazare train station.   Says it all.  Once they banned smoking from public buildings in Paris, they all took to the streets.  Those Asian tourists wearing surgical masks all over town, they’re on to something.






They advertise American novels in the subway tunnels.

photo 1 (2) Admit it, you want to be Lisa Gardner right now.







They still sell books in department stores.

books in store

This was taken in a monster department store – I’m talking a Saks Fifth Avenue times five – called Galeries Layfette.  With a book department.  Not gonna see that here at home.





They play American pop music in stores and elevators.

I have no picture for this because Taylor Swift might sue me.  But it’s true.  While you’re trying to tell the clerk you want a size 13 instead of 12, that’s Katy Perry in the background.

A trip of a lifetime, but glad to be home and back at work… after five days of massive jet-lag.

That said… my story coaching service, which has been on hold for three weeks, is once again – as Jeff Probst might say – back up for grabs.








Filed under other cool stuff

6 Responses to Writerly Observations From Paris

  1. Kerry Boytzun

    Glad you had a great trip!

    Very interesting insights. The French read a lot. Was there still an addiction to phones? In America, I see people jogging, riding bikes (even at night) with their phone in their hand. They text while crossing the street (we should get an exemption if we hit them).

    Smoking their brains out, eh? Funny how it’s so easy to purchase things that get you addicted and kill you in this world…some legal and some not.

    Andy Weir’s book obviously hit a nerve with the science geeks. Am interested how compelling his story is. Either way, what is most interesting is that this book was launched by chapter for free on his blog. Keep in mind that this guy was a science geek and had followers. The followers want to read the chapters because they’re into the science (geeks). BUT–because the chapters were compelling story-wise…they wanted the NEXT chapter. Then people wanted an ebook (enter Amazon @ $0.99/copy). It took OFF!!! Why? Because the story must be compelling and interesting and in this case: informative.

    A savvy book agent contacted the writer, enter publisher, and then enter a movie contract. (Realize that this story HAS commercial viability!).

    The concept is fresh. MacGyver marooned on Mars! BTW the MacGyver TV series was very popular.

    The surprising story of how Andy Weir’s self-published book ‘The Martian’ topped best seller lists and got a movie deal

  2. John V

    Larry, Great post. It’s nice to hear the trip was able to feed your passion for writing in a way that was also relaxing and fun. And thanks for summarizing, too, for us. Writing is at the desk writing but it is also living life.

  3. Hey Larry.

    Thanks for this insight into Paris. Love it. I’ve yet to visit but you’ve provided more motivation to get there soon. Thanks again

  4. Awesome observations, Larry! Now I want to go to Paris. 😀

  5. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no desire whatsoever to go to Paris.

    But the travel bug that lives just below my skin is jumping like a cricket.

    Best Beloved is totally onboard with the fact that every trip is about writing or about making our businesses better.

  6. Pingback: Coping With Trolls and the Irretrievably Lost... but Thankful for You - Storyfix.com