Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Wandering Writer

I spent the first few days in Paris, rushing around, trying to fit in as much as I could. It was great, and I saw many things that I know will feed into my writing, and my stories. But it has gradually been filtering into my mind how much that rushing had become a habit in my "normal" life. Work consumed many of my hours, and sucked out a fair amount of creative energy too, and I'd got into the habit of rushing through life, trying to get all my work done in order to find time and space for writing. And then feeling pressured to make every writing minute count. Two hours to write? Better make sure I get at least 1000 words out of it.

So if you're wondering why there is a picture of a church up above, that's part of the slowing down. I was wandering on Saturday afternoon, knowing I had to collect my bags and find my next abode (an apartment this week) and not willing to cram in another museum. Instead, I walked around Les Halles and found this church. Well, "found" is probably the wrong word. It's a pretty big church!! St Eustache. You could be forgiven for thinking it was Notre Dame. Inside, the arched ceilings are several hundred feet above, and the organ at the other end is immense.

No wonder those who worshipped in cathedrals or churches like this maintained their awe. How could you not? The building itself is a wonder. And the sense of peace and quiet had me sitting and being quiet too for quite some time. That's a good thing for a writer.
One of the things I have discovered I really like about Paris is the squares and gardens. I can be walking anywhere, and turn a corner to find a garden like this, open to anyone to come in and sit for a while. Maybe it's because I've spent too long with gum trees and drought-tolerant gardens (which equates to very few flowers and pretty boring plants, let's face it). But every time I have found one of these spaces, I've had to stop and sit awhile.

In A Writer's Paris by Eric Maisel, he talks about writing in Paris, about finding places to sit and contemplate and write. I had such an amazing hot chocolate this morning that I just had to write about it! But it's not so much the experiences that are inspiring my writing. It is simply the time and the headspace. I have almost stopped myself clock-watching (not yet but I'm trying), but I am definitely becoming far more aware of how much I needed to slow down mentally, and just be in my own space at last.


Kristi Holl said...

Oh....the small gardens sound like England. And I know what you mean by having drought-resistant gardens too! Texans favor a lot of cactus. 8-) I can almost feel your blood pressure and heart rate going down there. I'm going to go re-read that book IN PRAISE OF SLOWNESS. I think the slowness movement started in France. You're in a beautiful place to stop and smell the roses. Wonderful photos!
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid

Anonymous said...

Hey Sheryl,

Your book Sixth Grade Style Queen wa reviewed in The Sunday Age this week...and now you are in Paris. Woo! Isn't doing all the research beforehand half the fun? Paris is the perfect place to slow down as walking is the perfect way to get around.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

Mike (CYL)