It’s my last day here in Paris, where I’ve been working the last week out of an apartment in Belleville. I’ve managed to complete a second draft of a non-fiction book and sent it off to a publisher. Two, actually. Usually you have to wait months and months for a rejection, but this time I got a “no thank you” the day after I sent the manuscript. Which is good! It didn’t fit the publisher’s profile. I immediately sent off my book to another publisher, and went back to work on the YA novel I’m also trying to grapple this week.
If it sounds like I am a machine of efficiency, I assure you that is by no means the case. Usually I have other obligations – work, kids, house chores – so being all by myself holed up in an apartment is the culmination to a lot of internal preparation and built up creative energy.
But writing is hard work. Really hard. When I’m doing comics or illustration work, I’m building on something that is already there, not having to come up with every single word all by myself.
It helps to have a structure. The non-fiction book was a rewrite, a lot of editing. As a friend of mine put it: “The purpose of the first draft is to exist. You can’t edit something that’s not there”. I had a printed out manuscript full of notes and scribbles, most of them I made during the flight her from Copenhagen. So that was not hard work at all.
The YA novel is a different beast all together. I have the plot and most of the characters, I have a backstory. I know most of the beats. But it still has to get down on the page, in a not entirely random order. And everything is up for debate. Like when to drop in some of that backstory, in flashbacks and internal monologue. When to focus on what character. The exposition. And oftentimes I find myself stuck for lack of knowledge of a certain theme, a certain place or what people would look like. I’ve actually found Facebook to be helpful resource for once, as a place to look for names and language. I can browse through other people’s albums and see what the world of teenagers looks like, how they talk, how they dress. But as we all know, research can also just be procrastination, so when to stop?
Luckily it’s been raining constantly the past few days so there has been no pull to leave the apartment other than to get a baguette or something from the bakery down the street. Other than watching the entire second season of Daredevil (all work and no play, right?), I’ve pretty much been working the entire time. I had a long walk the other day, but the crooked streets tricked be and led me right back where I started. Sneaky Paris.
Since a series of pictures of me hunched over my Macbook is, well, boring, I instead include some pics from that one day the sun was shining. I do love Paris, but this time was all about work. I look forward to coming back here with my girls sometime.
Au revoir, Belleville!