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.
On 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.
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.
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.
They still sell books in department stores.
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.