I’ve got Paris on my mind.
About a month ago, I picked up a book called Time Was Soft There by Jeremy Mercer. I was browsing in one of my favourite bookstores when I saw it. I had never heard of the book before, but the subtitle caught my eye: “A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.” The memoir is about one Canadian writer’s experience living and writing above the famous bookstore.
I’ve spent some time writing in Paris as well. All right—my experience was nothing like Mercer’s. I was in Paris for a brief time in 2007. For the second half of September, I wandered the city streets, visited landmarks and ate pastries. But, maybe because I went alone, I ended up writing a lot, too. I took a notebook with me everywhere I went. I wrote from the lookout of the Eiffel Tower. I wrote under a tree in Père Lachaise Cemetery. I wrote in quaint cafés and on benches that line the Seine.
I made a point of visiting Shakespeare and Company, too, and was entranced by the store’s beauty and by the amount of books surrounding me. But at that time, I was unaware there were writers living upstairs, typing and scribbling away as I shopped below.
Since finishing Time Was Soft There, I’ve read a few other books that are set in Paris. Sometimes it was because of a conscious effort (Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London). Other times, it was a coincidence (David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day). I just can’t seem to kick my Paris habit. At least not yet.
I don’t believe anyone has to go to Paris in order to write. And I know the idea is a cliché. But the romantic in me can’t help but dream about living and writing in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.