Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Soaking It In

As you may have noticed, things have been a bit quiet around here.  I've been in France, as some readers know.  France, people! Two weeks in the south and several days in Paris. 

And I have been soaking it all in.

So much so that my brain feels ready to explode and I can't wait to get on the plane and have time to write.  (But given a choice, I'd stay here longer in a hot second.)

To back up a bit:

The first couple of weeks in September, I wrote a lot. I took a class about fast drafting, and managed to write 80 pages on a brand-new project before I got on the plane for Europe.

The third week in September, I was in Pezenas, co-leading a writing workshop.  And, since all the participants were writing every day, I wrote, too.

Then my husband arrived in Pezenas.  And a group of us stayed on a second week.

There was no writing.  Instead, there were adventures.  Like a trip to Sete, where we rode a boat in the canals and harbor and got drenched in a rainstorm.  (None of us even had coats on.) A visit to St. Guilhem-de-desert to see the old houses built up a ravine and the Cloisters.  A journey to the beautiful and lively city of Montpelier.  And lots of time spent wandering the town of Pezenas, which has an historic core that is fun to get lost in (and get lost you will, the streets are very curvy and narrow).  And now, of course, Paris.  Just, Paris.

About mid-way through the first week I bought a journal.  (Buying paper goods is one of my favorite things to do here.) And I wrote in it a few times in the morning.   I thought for sure I would write delicate, important words about Paris in it once we got here.  But I haven't.

And for once, I'm not worried about it.

Because I am filled up with the sights and sounds of my time here.  And the flavors, let us not forget the flavors: macarons from Laduree, foie gras with fig jam in a small cafe in Pezenas, leg of lamb at a cafe on Boulevard Montparnasse after walking all day.  And the wine! Vin rouge, from theLanquedoc, the best wine in the world.

It really doesn't get any better than this.  Even if you're not writing.

So here are my recommendations for going with it and just letting it soak in:

1. Take insect repellent.  Les moustiques Francaise love me.  I was covered with bites the first two weeks, and they would suddenly activate in the middle of the night and start itching.  Once I bought insect repellent, my sleep improved dramatically.  The moral of the story? Be prepared.  I think being prepared in writing is related to soaking it in.  Being a sponge for every sensual experience is preparing yourself to disgorge words on the page.

2. Try.  I speak French haltingly.  But I find if I at least attempt a few words in French, people laugh and talk to me in English.  It is nice to try, though.  Same thing with writing.  Try putting some words down on paper.  When you're blocked, just try it and see what happens.

3.  Be willing to be uncomfortable.  I've written about this before, but on my table it is way too complicated to find the link.  Part of the experience of travel is a willingness to be embarrassed because you did something wrong in a different culture.  To get lost.  To have to walk 2 miles because you missed the bus.  To be uncomfortable.  And is this not also the essence of writing?

4. Have fun.  Every time something goes a different way than we anticipated, my husband and I look at each other and say, "Who cares? We are in Paris!" And then we soak in some more of wherever we find ourselves.  If you're not having fun with your writing, you might want to consider another career.

5. Use the toilet wherever you find one.  This is excellent travel advice.  Alas, I find I cannot relate it back to writing.  Maybe you can. 

As is so often the case with writing, I find that now I am to the end of this post I finally get what the true theme is.  And that is what I said in #4.  One should always live life, and approach writing, with the idea that wherever you find yourself is the most wonderful place on the planet to be.

Bon jour.  I promise that next week I'll be back to normal on my blogging.  In the meantime, what's up with you?  How's the writing going? Please report in the comments.

 (Alas, posting photos is too complex at the moment and I only have one day left in Paris so I am off to explore.  If you want to see some images from my trip, follow me on Instagram.


0 thoughts on “Soaking It In

  1. J.D.

    I’ve often dreamed of being Arthur Blank for a week. If you don’t know, Mr. Blank owns the Atlanta Falcons. Mr. Blank is single. I believe he could date with a beautiful woman, maybe for all the wrong reasons, but for one date so what. He can eat any cuisine he chooses, drink any wine. He can dine tonight in any country he chooses. He could go on a luxury liner and cruise the world. So why does he stay here? Why is h on the sidelines every Sunday, watching the Falcons? Never having any, there are clearly things about wealth, about choices that I do not understand.

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    Me and you both, J.D. I’m pretty sure its not all its cracked up to be. While we were in Paris, it was Paris Fashion Week. And I read a story about Kim Kardashian being there and started thinking. It takes hours to make her look the way she does, so that’s a big chunk of her day. And then once she’s all gussied up, all she can do is make an appearance. She can’t wander down a back street in Paris and discover a cute cafe, like we did. Or eat lunch at a spot in the Tuileries. Or ride the Hop On, Hop Off bus all over town. Nope, none of that. She’s confined to pre-arranged appearances, and then hotel rooms (albeit luxurious ones) and private planes. C’mon, wouldn’t that get old after awhile? I’d take my freedom any day.

  3. J.D.

    I’m not a Khardasian fan. I’ve never seen the show, if there is a show. She doesn’t act, dance, or sing–I’m not sure why I’m supposed to be watching her. If I’m supposed to watch because she’s attractive, there are others who are much more attractive, and if not there soon will be. When I think of attractive, I think of Kim Bassinger. She was soooooo good looking. She is still extremely attractive but is she known for that now? No. What was she like? I mean Alec Baldwin. I don’t really know him; we can’t know anyone from TV but I think he’s a jerk. So if she thinks she loves him, what is she like, loving a jerk I mean? I also think of a night I was in Houston, a cocktail hour for a meeting of four to five hundred people. I was drunk (like I am a little bit now) with some people I had known for two hours. My wife came looking for me. She was in her evening dress for the dinner that was to follow. One of the young guys I was with said, “Who is that!” There was a round of woohoos, etc. from the group. I stood up as if I was seeing her for the first time and said, “Watch this.” I staggered over, pretending to put a line on her. It defied the laws of compatibility. Does she evoke that reaction every day? Nope. Did it happen every day for a while? Yep. What does it mean? Damned if I know. I’d still like to be Arthur Blank for one day. If I am granted that, do I want a date with Kim Khardasian? No way.

  4. Charlotte Dixon

    So, yeah, you win the prize for the best comment ever on this blog.  That's saying something, seeing as how I've been doing it over 7 years.  Love the story about your wife and I also agree with you about the relative merits of Kim Kardashian and Kim Basinger.  The two Kims.  The Kardashians represent everything that is wrong with our celebrity-worshipping society.  I also wish they could smile once in a while, for God's sakes.  Have a great weekend, J.D.

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