Strangers in Paris (Book + Launch Party!)

Well here’s the thing to get me back into Paris and the writing life.

I recently had a story published in a new anthology entitled “Strangers in Paris: New Writing from the City of Light.” The book features lots of great contributors (including John Berger and poet Alice Notley!).

I have no idea how the heck I ended up in such good company, but I’m thrilled!

The Paris launch of the book will be this coming Monday, July 25, at Shakespeare & Co. Ten or so contributors will be reading. I’m excited and nervous to be one of them.

Confession: I go to readings at Shakespeare & Co a fair bit and sometimes catch myself daydreaming: I wonder when I’ll be up there. I didn’t think it would be for awhile yet (ahem, novel still in progress). How awesome that I get the chance now!

Ok, so story behind the story time (you know how I do).

Woman reading a book

It’s actually weird for me to be reading this story. I wrote it over 4 years ago and it seems like a stranger penned the words (ha! in keeping with the theme of the book!)

This isn’t a rare sentiment for me, though. I have an odd relationship to so much of what I write. (It’s crappy and brilliant! Just like I’m beautiful and ugly! Just how I’m both timid and bold!)

My voice on this here blog is pretty consistent because I’m writing as just, well, me. As a fiction writer, though, all sorts of different characters arrive.

I was reading through the story again and it felt so foreign. The narrator’s voice is cold, emotionally distant. And well, I’d like to think I’m pretty warm (and fuzzy?)

But isn’t that the fun of fiction, I ask? Is this not why I do it?

Still, I also feel like I’ve grown a ton as a writer since then. Though I’m learning to accept that, too. That everything is part of the journey. Each scribble, experiment, failure, and success is an evolution. (Hmm, that sounds like life, huh?)

It also seems to be an interesting snapshot of some subconscious stuff, too. While I’m nothing like the character of my story (gosh, I hope not! He’s, well, a he, and an alienated artist who abandoned his epileptic girlfriend!), thinking now about when I wrote it, I’m able to see something clearly that I couldn’t name at the time.

It was the first story I wrote when I moved to Paris. Before I spoke or really understood French. When I still knew very few people. I was in love and on an adventure and I’d like to think very happy, but was some part of me not feeling that sense of isolation and alienation, too? Did it take this character – so unlike me in deed and action – to let me experience something I wasn’t articulating?

I don’t know from what mysterious well my creative work comes. And it is mysterious and part of the reason I don’t talk about it much. Part of me doesn’t want to know while I’m creating what’s going on. I just want to allow it to happen.

But it sure is interesting to poke and prod afterward. What was that about?

And so, I stumble over the words as I practice reading it aloud now. Do I really want this to be how my fiction is introduced to the world? Luckily, there are so many contributors that we’re each only reading 2 pages of work (though selecting just 2 pages that will make sense is hard!)

What’s also cool is that there will be an after reading at Culture Rapide in Belleville at 9 PM. It’s a continuation of the launch party. (My gosh! We get 2?)

I’ve been meaning to get to Culture Rapide for awhile. Every Monday night there’s the SpokenWord event, an open-mic for poets and wordsmiths. David Barnes organizes the event – and is the co-editor of the anthology.

And so, “Strangers” is taking over SpokenWord for a night. As it’s open-mic, we sign up once there. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I think I’ll read there, too. We can share whatever we like at the second party. I think I’ll read a selection from my novel as that’s what I’m closest to right now. Also, I’m able to read through it smoothly because I just did at my residency (oops! Did I just jinx myself? Watch me not be able to spit out a word!)

Anyway, maybe I should stop with this rambling post? See why I don’t talk about my writing a lot? I’m a strange bird.

Photograph of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton Posing on the Big Bird Nest Set with Big Bird...

Long and short of it: I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share such different work in the same night.

I ask that you still love me, even if you don’t like it :)

Here are the details if you want to stop by:

Monday, July 25

Shakespeare & Co @ 6 PM
37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005
Métro St Michel

SpokenWord
Culture Rapide @ 9 PM
103 rue Julien Lacroix, 75020
Metro Belleville

(Question: do any other writers ever feel weird about how they come across so differently with each piece? Also: am I the only one tickled by what random photos you can find on Flickr Creative Commons? Hillary Clinton and Big Bird!)

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39 Responses to “Strangers in Paris (Book + Launch Party!)”


  1. 1 erica July 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Congratulations Sion! I will try to come to either Shakespeare or to the Spoken word. If not, hope to see you very soon. I want the book now….
    Erica

    • 2 paris (im)perfect July 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks, Erica! And me, too. I want the book now, too. It’s so hot off the presses *I* haven’t even seen it yet! We get our copy right before the reading at Shakespeare & Co. All kinds of excitement :)

  2. 3 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) July 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I love the Hilary Clinton and Big Bird photo. Fantastic!

    Sion, this is so amazing, and I am so happy for the inclusion of your short story in the anthology. I’ve marked both events on the calendar, and will try to be at one, the other, or, hopefully, both. :)

    As for the question: I know I have been through so many changes in life, so many transitions, writing from those past times does feel strange, and often I feel that weirdness of the thought that “This piece of writing does not really ‘fit’ who I am anymore…” I understand like you that it comes from that dark and shadowy place, an unconscious kind of place, and just like embarrassing or strange dreams, I sometimes want to say, “I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote X!” I guess that is kind of the point: it comes from the place of not-thinking, but responding to the people and characters within and telling *their* story. Anyway, it does seem that we read a lot into authors’ writings. I connect a part of the writer with what they write. But, also, just like the murder mystery writer that writes of horrific or graphic acts, I also don’t assume that the author wants to go out and DO those things, nor is the writer the character who is thinking or doing certain things. I understand there is a limit to how autobiographical things are. But there is that whole self-conscious part of me that knows people may be inferring things about me as a person because of the things about which I write. Just like I do to some degree as a reader.

    Maybe this is all a part of that “thick skin” thing I keep reading one has to grow when becoming a published writer. All kinds of people are going to think all kinds of things about your writing. But the only thoughts that matter are from yourself and from the people who know and love you well. Staying centered in that allows the characters to be free and to do what they want to do (so their stories can be read) while all the while you have your own sense of self as the god that dreamed them up. I think good people, readers and writers both, know this is the case!

    • 4 paris (im)perfect July 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      Great thoughts, Karin. Thanks for sharing. I totally agree. I try not to mess with the “shadowy” place. Heck, writing is so tortuous for me that if something just rises up and finds its way onto the page, I’m thrilled to have it there. (Even if it makes me cringe later!) :)

  3. 5 Franck July 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Bonjour, febrile reader,

    mind is a flow, it doesn’t care if you are awake, asleep, happy or in luv’. Closest thing I could compare is a river. It goes down, slowly, furiously, from a mysterious mountain called “the past”. Sometimes it oaverflows and removes your house (home), sometimes, almost dry, it kills its crocodiles. Things you write are the arms of that river. They often die and become dusty packs of paper on an inaccessible shelf or these hypnotic twin fringes in a shredder. Making you a writer full of gratitude because no one read them. But some of them, brooks became rivers, have their own streams, forgotten, almost foreign, with beautiful banks and majestuous trees. Then, you just can think wouaouououou! Did I commit that ? It is so far from me now!

    From another bottle tossed on the sea.

  4. 7 Lindsey July 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Congratulations! What great news!!! I hope to be able to make it!

  5. 9 forest July 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    you rock! congrats – you deserve it! And i think it’s a really good point about all of it being part of the whole. I look back on things I’ve written and cringe sometimes, but (as you say – like life) we really are a sum of all the parts past and future and not just a snapshot in this exact moment.

    • 10 paris (im)perfect July 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks, Forest! “Cringe” is exactly the word I use. In fact, I cringe at just about everything I write (including this post now!) But I’ve learned that’s just part of the whole, too. Thanks for the affirmation that I’m not crazy. (Or that it’s a shared, understood craziness).

  6. 11 Molly July 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I have just found your blog and I am SO excited that I will be in Paris on Monday the 25th! I arrive the day before and may be a bit jet-lagged, but I would LOVE to attend a reading a Shakespeare & Co — quite the romantic dream for an American writer wannabe. I am just afraid that I might be very out of place….

    • 12 paris (im)perfect July 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      Molly! That’s great! You will most definitely be jet-lagged (I speak from experience), but it’s always good to have events planned to stave off sleepiness!

      As for being out of place: no way! Or at least, I’ll be there, too and we can not fit in together.

      And lastly, American writer wannabe? Do you write? Then you’re a writer. I know the feeling, though. I still consider myself an American writer wannabe. Only I finally started making myself say I’m a writer when I lost my official day job. (It sounded better than “bum.”) And since writing is a lot of work – and the work I care most about – well, I guess there you have it.

      Come up and say hi, don’t feel shy. If you feel out of place, don’t worry. I’ll be shaking in my boots, too :)

  7. 13 Oneika the Traveller July 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Congrats!! For all the times I’ve been to Paris I’ve only walked in front of Shakespeare and Co. and never gone inside. You’ll do great!

  8. 15 Linds July 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Congrats! I love reading your blog and the voice you have here. I’m sure your reading will go wonderfully, and I look forward to picking up a copy of the book!

  9. 17 Amy Kortuem July 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Congratulations, Sion! What a great welcome back to Paris. This should really give your drive to write a positive boost. (Getting great feedback and some recognition always does it for me, anyway, needy writer than I am!)

    • 18 paris (im)perfect July 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks, Amy. It *is* a great welcome back! I am totally excited about writing. So excited I can’t even settle down (which, um, makes it hard to write!) But yes, lots of positive energy right now. I think we all love feedback and recognition. (Which is why I adore reading everyone’s comments! Just so great to be in dialogue and have a response!)

  10. 19 Paris Paul P July 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Excellent news. I can’t wait until I can start telling people, “I knew her when.” What is the appropriate time to wait before I make up stuff and sell the rights as a “Tell All” book? Anyway, I have to check with Karin but I can’t imagine our not being there!

    • 20 paris (im)perfect July 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      Haha. Well, probably way premature yet – and a “tell all” assumes there’s stuff to tell! (I guess that’s why you’d make stuff up :) )

      It’ll be great to see you two. Thanks for the support.

  11. 21 Sweet Freak July 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Yay, Sion! I wish I could be there, but I will raise a glass of Bordeaux to you from New York on Monday! xo

  12. 23 Andi July 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Congrats Sion that is wonderful. I can just imagine a piece that you wrote 4 years ago would seem weird, we change so much as we go along! Can this book be purchases anywhere online (did I miss that in your post)?

  13. 25 Kind Reader July 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Congratulations. I wish I could be at the reading. I hope you enjoy the evening. I like the bird too. :)

  14. 27 Stephanie July 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    How exciting! Congratulations! Looks like I won’t be in Paris quite yet but I can’t wait to find the book. I can imagine how euphoric you must be feeling to be among great company with the other readings. Best of luck to you and good luck on upcoming projects!

  15. 29 Sariah July 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Sion, this is just fantastic! Congratulations. You will do wonderfully.

  16. 31 Paris Paul P July 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Just to say Karin and I had a wonderful time at the reading. Your excerpt was wonderful and your reading of it was spot on. I hope you’re proud of yourself, I know I am!

    • 32 paris (im)perfect July 26, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      Thanks, Paul! It was so lovely to see you and Karin out there in the audience. I really did keep looking at y’all. Made me less nervous!

      • 33 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) July 27, 2011 at 10:39 pm

        So glad to have been in attendance, Sion! Guess what, I am writing a little post for my Posterous account right now about the event in the hopes of getting out the word about the anthology. I realized while doing so that I did not note down the title of your short story! (I was a little busy with some photography and filming work. ;-) )

        Could you either post the title here or email it to me? Also, do you have a little synopsis of the story? You know, the one sentence summary of the story kind-of-thing. I’d like to include that info in the post, if possible.

        I’ll let you know when the post is up (probably tomorrow, at the rate I am going at 10:40 pm on Wednesday night, lol).

        Thanks in advance. :)

      • 34 paris (im)perfect July 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm

        Thanks so much for your support, Karin. And your stellar job documenting the event, of course! Looks like I’m just catching you before you post. My story is called “The Idiopath.” When Ben’s girlfriend Lisa suddenly starts having inexplicable seizures, he freaks out, then flees. It’s a story that illustrates that no matter how far you run, you can never really escape what haunts you.

        How’s that for a synopsis?

        I’ll look forward to the post!

      • 35 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) July 28, 2011 at 12:36 am

        Thank you!! I am going to finish it tomorrow (I hope!). I really appreciate having all the info about your work in the anthology. :)

      • 36 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) July 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

        Here ya go: http://analienparisienne.posterous.com/two-events-i-attended-in-paris-july-2011

        I decided to put this one on Posterous. I’m trying to sort out my writing life, and I love all the sites that are available to me because of their various strengths! I’m going to try to put “events reports” things on the Posterous site because they seem to “fit” well there. We’ll see how it goes… Hope you enjoy the write up as much as I enjoyed the Shakespeare and Company event!

        Bisous!
        Karin

  17. 37 Clairet July 30, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Hi Sion, really enjoyed your reading at Shakespeare & co, wish I’d gone up to speak to you at Culture rapide, but my boyfriend wasn’t feeling too well so we left before it got started. Well done! Am working on a review of the anthology for http://sabotagereviews.com

    • 38 paris (im)perfect July 31, 2011 at 11:11 am

      Hi there. Thanks so much! Oh, you should definitely have come up and said hi – next time! Would love to know when you put the review up. How exciting! Thanks again for coming and for the nice comment!


  1. 1 Paris Local Expert « paris (im)perfect Trackback on July 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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