The fact that I can’t seem to focus on writing my novel has nothing to do with how interesting or moving or
raw fucking awesome the story is. Novel writing is just so damn hard. Why am I significantly more inspired to create short stories and flash fiction? If I make every chapter of my novel a short story within the big picture, shouldn’t it be easy for me to write it?
Many accomplished writers have said that crafting a novel is like being married. It starts with passion. It dwindles. It picks up. Someone gives up. Someone encourages the other to try again. There is renewed hope. Someone has an affair (the short story! that tramp!). And eventually hard work and dedication pays off. If you’re lucky, a baby is born.
My novel is a beast. It’s daunting. I escape by writing about other things entirely. I write about anything at all, in fact. An Iraq war vet who catches his wife cheating, a woman whose grocery list spans three continents, an ugly family matter in Amish country, even my own breast implants. Imagine - all those affairs! Some call it ADHD. I call it Avoidance.
Don’t get the wrong idea that I’m an overzealous writer chained to my keyboard cranking out fiction. I mostly avoid in much less productive ways. Let’s review some of the things I’ve done in the past week.
Lunch at Le Foyer de la Madeleine
Hours in Musee L’Orangerie to peruse Monet’s Les Nymphéas
Long walks along the Seine. In the rain. (Is there any other way)?
Hunts for fancy treats, like the delicacies found at Bertie’s Cupcakery on the Ile de Cite
Sips of champagne and peeks of (incredibly fit) naked showgirls at the Moulin Rouge
Waiting an hour for a desk at my local Paris Library only to feel uninspired when I sat down
Strolling past the Eiffel Tower a few dozen times because, come on, it’s the Eiffel Tower
Imbibing in liters of craft beer in Brussels (Yep, I really did that).
Velib’ing through the Bois de Boulogne
Devouring a galette de rois because I needed to find the prize (What, I velib’ed).
And lots of other stupid shit too. Trust me on this.
Tonight, I’m attending a reading with my 20-yr-old step-daughter in Belleville. She won’t be impressed by me, because I’m not reading anything. But hopefully, she’ll be impressed by the number of dedicated, talented, interesting writers who choose to live in Paris, because this city somehow brings out the best in all of us, who gather to support one another’s efforts. I like this event because I
usually get inspired can drink beer.
I did “step back in” to my seat at a weekly writers’ group, which is coordinated by a grant-winning, published writer and instructor. I haven’t attended since early September, but I’m ready to try again. That will happen next Wednesday. I’m reading. Merde.
I need to find a new writing partner. This will bring me back to Craigs List, which also acts as an enormous distraction. A friend of mine said one time she went looking for a writing partner on Craigs List, and after four days of screen time, she found herself posting Let’s Masturbate Together and Then Have Dinner. She was single at the time, thank God. She’s not single anymore, because someone actually responded and that all worked out.