Writers have to be flexible. We must conjure up creativity in the strangest and most difficult conditions. I’ve taught myself to write in the dark, on my phone, in notebooks, on table serviettes and drink coasters, pretty much anywhere.
To be in Paris, in the world I’m writing about is harrowing at times, but it’s such an inspiring and rich experience. It allows me to add a whole new layer of meaning and texture to my story.
And over the last twenty-four hours I’ve been writing … a lot. In fact I’m up to around 12,000 words in my new draft. I’m deep in my story, living each day in my character’s world … Paris 1942.
Equipment for eating snails … don’t think that’s going to happen
Paris today is not so different … and everywhere there are reminders of where I am, of what used to be and what is now.
In truth, (due in part to my poor grasp of any language other than English) some of my research experiences have not yet yielded the information I need.
Shelves full of French books that I can’t read … means I get more writing done
But I’ve found alternatives in unlikely places.
Seeing the cellars beneath the mosque is one goal that hasn’t yet come to fruition. But when I was putting out the recycling the other day, I discovered a cellar underneath my very own building. One with steps carved into stone, with huge old wooden doors leading who knows where.
Of course I bought a torch and went exploring. I can’t tell you what I found because that’s in my book, but this cellar was exactly the place I was looking for.
For me, writing isn’t just about today’s story or yesterday’s story, it’s about tomorrow’s story as well. I’m always gathering information that could be useful in works to come … stories I might not even have thought of yet.
So wherever I am, I’m gathering sights, smells, sounds and emotions to add to my scrapbook of experiences.
Have you ever found an important piece of research in an unexpected place?
I’d love you to share your experience here.
Happy writing 🙂
My research trip to Paris has been made possible thanks to the generous support of VicArts.