Archive for the 'Literary/Cultural Paris' Category

First WIP Report

Cozy corner - pillows, blankets, cushions. Plus bowls full of writing prompts.

Cozy corner – pillows, blankets, cushions. Plus bowls full of writing prompts.

“It’s so funny,” my beau said one morning as I was working through a to-do list to launch WIP. “You had this idea and just did it.” Without my usual hand-wringing, he was sweet enough to omit.

It’s true. Often I’m wracked with indecision. In considering how to proceed (or even whether to), I’ll poll loved ones, tally pros and cons, worry over small details – or become paralyzed pondering the sheer number of details there are.

But every once in awhile, I move forward with little fuss. I make the road by walking.

Audrey at her writing deskAnd thus it was with Write-in Paris (WIP). I had the thought to host collective writing sessions in my home and so…well…I decided to try it! I built a bare-bones website, designed some flyers, then started spreading the word. And voila! Just like that a new community and the highlight of my fall was born.

Y’all, we’re in the first session’s last week and it’s been a joy! I call WIP a “no-angst place to create” and the reality of it matched the hope. I’m so excited to keep going.Anne Ditmeyer - WIP

I’m grateful for the writers who come each week and work in my salon. Some have returned to novels and memoirs they’d been neglecting for too long; one turned his attention to a new script. There are those who are writing articles for magazines and others keeping a personal journal, jotting down impressions in their diary.

What binds us is the desire for a dedicated time and space to write – with the built-in commitment to show up regularly for our work. In essence, WIP serves as a supportive accountability circle; we know we’ll be surrounded by others also working and so we keep our butt in the chair.

I’ve been impressed with the focus cultivated in the room. Truly, those 2 hours of work time are treated as inviolable and we stick to it. You’ll see some with their pens moving gracefully across paper, hear fingers tapping wildly on keyboards in other corners. Some, like me, spend a lot of time staring off into space (hey, daydreaming is important for creativity!).

Emily and Sara - WIP

I believe we’re all buoyed by the communal feeling that everyone is working as they should. It’s a quiet, relaxed space.

I usually sit in the meditation chair. (Perhaps that's why I space out in the good way?)

I usually sit in the meditation chair. (Perhaps that’s why I space out in the good way?)

I love how comfortable people feel – that was very much my aim. People get up and make themselves tea when they want; kick off their shoes, too. We have a nice chat at the end, once our work time is through (how much lighter you feel conversing after you’ve done what you said you would do!)

“It’s actually really helpful,” my beau concluded one evening. Yes, he’s the one working on the script and after initial considerate but confused support (creative writing classes – not to mention a write-in! – are still strange concepts in France), he is an enthusiastic participant himself.

Indeed. It is helpful. Sometimes the simplest idea can be the best.

Mirror effect - WIP
Feel free to check out the kind testimonials from WIP’s first session….then sign up for the next ones.

(I’m also open to holding WIP during other days and times if there’s demand. Let me know if there’s a better slot for you!)

Vacances scolaires special (2 weeks)

– Daytime WIP: Mondays, 3-5:30 pm, October 19 & 26.
– Evening WIP: Thursdays, 7-9:30 pm, October 22 & 29.

Session Two (6 weeks)*:

– Daytime WIP: Mondays, 3-5:30 pm, November 2-December 7
– Evening WIP: Thursdays, 7-9:30 pm, November 5-December 10

*Make-up dates: December 14 & 17

WIP Collage

Write-in Paris (WIP) !

Boulevard Voltaire. Photo by Sean Fitzroy.

Boulevard Voltaire. Photo by Sean Fitzroy.

Closed shops with handwritten notes on their shuttered doors announcing vacation, emptier streets so tempting the urge to walk in the middle of them sometimes overtakes. Cafes are even more relaxed than usual. Linger, linger.

But crowds still appear in parks with picnic baskets and blankets to watch outdoor movies. Sunny enough this year, too, for Paris Plages (ends this Sunday). The tourist sites must be packed, as well, though I haven’t been anywhere near those for awhile.

It’s August in Paris. A slow, delicious month. Counterintuitively to some, it’s my favorite one. I love working during this time. Less pressure in the air as others holiday, I feel as if I’m getting ahead.

Corner cafe. Photo by Michele Filgate.

Corner cafe. Photo by Michele Filgate.

I’ve come up with an idea, friends, and I’m excited to share. I hope you will join if you can.

Starting in September, I will begin hosting “write-in” sessions in my home. Not a workshop. Not a class. Rather “communal scribble sessions in the City of Light.”

So often, the biggest challenge in writing is the most basic of steps: sitting down and staying there to do it. I think a lot about why it’s so hard to keep one’s butt in the chair – resistance, doubt, distractions, fear.

I know I’m not alone. It’s a solitary act, writing. And yet we, writers, are a tribe.

What if I created a community specifically to foster collective creative energy in a supportive environment? Offered a cozy space to focus on projects, our concentration on solo work buoyed by a group?

WIP websiteI’ve launched Write-In Paris (WIP) and would love for you to take a look. Think of it as a weekly date with your writing in good company. Consider it a membership to a writer’s gym – only this gym is always super fun with like-minded souls. You’ll commit to your writing practice and it’s a promise you’ll want to keep.

I’m looking forward to the rentree now. I can’t wait to put WIP into play!

Please visit the Write-In Paris (WIP) website for full details on schedules and pricing. Then, I hope you sign up!

Thoughts? Ideas? I welcome your suggestions of how to make WIP great and how to spread the word. Thank you!

Paris’ New “Budget Participatif”

This week voting began in a new Paris initiative: for the first time in the city’s history, residents get to choose how to use 5% of the municipal government’s investment budget. This budget participatif, which will amount to 426 million euros over 6 years, was one of mayor Anne Hidalgo’s campaign promises. It’s happening now.

(A quick video on how it works, in French, is below)

Continue reading ‘Paris’ New “Budget Participatif”’

Quiet Paris (Giveaway!)

Quiet ParisAs if in answer to my pleas, the sun finally appeared in Paris this week. Starting Sunday, spring burst forth fully formed. The city sighed collective relief.

The long walks I alluded to last post obviously bring even more joy now.

In a bout of perfect timing, I also received a new guidebook that champions the wandering approach. The introduction to Siobhan Wall’s Quiet Paris has her musing: “walking around, I wondered whether we are now less familiar with losing our way and coming across places by benign accident rather than preordained design.”

Wall seeks the calmer side to cities, you see, places off the beaten track. Previously she has produced Quiet London and Quiet Amsterdam. But is it really possible to escape the hustle and bustle in Paris, the world’s most popular tourist destination?

I always approach anything promising a “secret” City of Light with a slice of skepticism. Luckily, this sweet little pocket guide soon swiped away any hesitation. It delivers.

While some old standbys certainly appear (the elevated leafy walkway known as the Promenade Plantee was packed this weekend, for instance; ditto, I imagine, Parc Buttes Chaumont), plenty of entries were new to me (the Musee Bourdelle in the fifteenth? The Bibliotheque Marguerite Durand devoted to French women and feminism?)

Author Siobhan Wall

Author Siobhan Wall

After the elegant intro, the guide is divided into 12 sections: museums, libraries, parks & gardens, places to relax, places to worship, shops, restaurants, cafes, bookshops, galleries, cultural centers, and places to stay. At the end is a handy index of places by arrondissement. There are more than 120 listings in all.

Continue reading ‘Quiet Paris (Giveaway!)’

L’Amour (or less…)

Montmartre, Paris (I love you wall)

One of my favorite things in the world is to play matchmaker.

I’m not responsible for any romantic connections, mind you. But I have fixed up a fair number of friends. A flair for platonic pairings, if you will.

Ah, you’re interested in X? So is my friend Y. Let me introduce you two!

I love putting people together who I think might click.

Not long ago, I introduced my screenwriter/actress friend Jennifer to Alexis, a director/writer, recently moved to Paris from LA. Though I had only met Alexis once before, I knew the alchemy was right for a rendezvous. I arranged that we all go to a vernissage together. (And then eat cheeseburgers afterward. Le classe!)

Long story short, I knew Jennifer and Alexis might hit it off, but I had no idea how much. The past month they (and now a whole cast and crew!) have been hard at work on a new project.

L’Amour (or less…) is a web series that explores what happens when people from two different cultures try to make a romantic connection. Each episode features re-enactments of actual dates between expatriates and the French. Some of the true stories are charming, some are distinctly not, and some are just bizarre.

Let their video here tell you more:

Fittingly, they launched L’Amour (or less…) live in Paris on Valentine’s Day. If you want to see this web series get made, head over to their kickstarter page. They’ve written 12 episodes already, but need some funds to bring the stories to the screen. Why not show them some love?

L’Amour (or less…) kickstarter page.
And the website.

Seeing people go for it; yes this is another one of my favorite things. The idea to collaborate on L’Amour (or less…) sprouted just at the start of January; Jennifer and Alexis have been running full steam ahead ever since. In only a little over a month they’ve assembled a host of talented folks, shot all over the City of Light, and written episodes which I can’t wait to actually see. Kind of dizzying all the activity!

These two remind me: you can decide to just do it. Oh, and I’m reminded, too, of the delight of serendipity. (My favorite word). Of bringing people together. The beauty of momentum. The power of putting your all into a dream.

Now if that’s not a love story, I don’t know what is.

**WIN!** Marc Levy Ebooks + a Long Weekend in Paris!

Marc LevyMarc Levy is the most widely read French author in the world. With 13 published novels in the past 12 years – all #1 bestsellers in France and in many other countries – his books have been translated into 45 languages with nearly 30 million copies sold.

Before his first novel, If Only It Were True, was published in the U.S., Steven Spielberg acquired the film rights for DreamWorks. The subsequent movie,  Just like Heaven, starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, became a #1 box office hit.

Since that introduction US readers haven’t had easy access to the rest of Levy’s work, however. That is, until now.

International e-book publisher Versilio is now releasing the English translations of Marc Levy’s novels. To celebrate, they’re also running a sweepstakes. First prize is a long weekend in Paris for two, including roundtrip airfare and hotel. I thought y’all might like to know about that!Marc Levy Paris Getaway

Other prizes include an iPad loaded with Marc’s novels. To be entered to win, participants need to answer 5 questions about Marc Levy’s novel All Those Things We Never Said by February 10. Winners will be announced on Valentine’s Day. Head over here to enter!

I’m pleased that the publisher is also offering a free ebook to a lucky paris (im)perfect reader specifically. (That’s you!)

To enter to win a free ebook, just leave a comment by 10 AM EST February 10. I’ll draw a name at random and get your free promo code to you! (Even if you don’t have an ereader, you’ll be able to download the book to your computer, so feel free to enter.) Good luck!

**Please note the comments below are only for the chance to win the ebook. To enter for a chance to win the trip to Paris, head over to Marc Levy’s fan page.**

Expat Blog Awards and Amazing Synchronicity!

Happy 12.12.12!

As many have noted, this is the last repetitive date we’ll see in our lifetimes (unless you can hang on another 88 years to 01/01/2101).

I’m a bit of a number nerd. Not so much into math, but a person who keeps strange little superstitions, making wishes at 11:11 and imbuing certain combinations with meaning. Hey, you never know!

Sometimes life does offer amazing moments of synchronicity, though.

After posting my James Baldwin essay yesterday, my fabulous roommate revealed that her uncle was close friends with the author. “Jimmy” was her cousin’s godfather!

James Baldwin and Robert Cordier

James Baldwin and Robert Cordier (photo from Wikimedia Commons, posted by Acting123)

WHAT? I’ve been living with someone with a connection to my literary hero?!

“Yeah, we should all get coffee sometime,” she said casually.

“This is amazing!” I said.

She shrugged. “I wasn’t even going to mention it, but you keep talking about him.”

Sure enough, her uncle’s name sounded familiar. I went to my Baldwin biography and found several mentions of Robert Cordier. Then I googled him (of course) and found more: playwright, director, famed acting teacher, etc, etc. Whoa!

Mind officially blown.

ExpatsBlogAwardsIn other fun news, I’ve been nominated for an Expat Blog Award!

The contest has been going on for awhile, but I was too shy to mention it before. But along with my slight number fixation and surprise connections, I must also have a competitive underdog streak somewhere in there, too.

If you want to help create a last minute surge in the rankings, nice comments here by Friday count as votes for my blog. Hop on over if you’d like. Merci!

Stories of synchronicity to share?

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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