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).
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.
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
Culture Rapide @ 9 PM
103 rue Julien Lacroix, 75020
(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!)