I thought being in Paris – walking the streets of Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald – would inspire me to write. I had visions of sitting in cafes with pen and journal in hand, or along the quai with my own bottle of wine and a tablet. But no —. No great story ideas. No new characters. Just a few more scenes on a boring little story I’ve been writing (and hating) for months.
My extremely bright daughter recently wrote me to relax. Yes, writing was a goal and a good one; but I’m also here to absorb. To soak it all in.
I thought about that. This has always been my M.O. I go places and see and hear and taste and smell. I get caught up in the walking, the discovery, the architecture, the experience. I create routine amidst the unknown, the unfamiliar. I figure out tubes and metros, how to get from A – B and from B – C. GPS and maps and notes. I go home feeling as if I didn’t experience a thing; didn’t write a word except daily drivel.
But later – sometimes much later – a character emerges or a particular tree or the sound of the metro from my apartment with the doors open and the birds – larger than life it seems – caw and caw on the roof tops above me. I am like a sponge. I soak it up and let it sit on the counter until one day I notice, and I think to wring it out – to squeeze each drop of memory onto paper.