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A Little Café

July 24, 2012
A Sailboat in Paris

A little girl turns her sailboat back into the waters at le Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris.

Yesterday was another highlight on this Paris trip as I took time to sit at a little café, the Tennessee Café, and wrote a brief humor piece on the myth that Parisians do not smile and I shared it with our alumni group last night. It was first draft stuff for sure but it was well received and I learned a great deal. I learned how much I truly enjoy putting actual pen to paper. There is a tactile experience that is lost when keyboarding. The words appear different. Yes they look different but the way they make their appearance is different, one letter, deliberately, at a time. Scrolling into form. I’m beginning to believe that for me as a writer, keyboarding quickly is not an asset. Words pop into view too easily. They are not earned and therefore they lose my respect, whereas words written work their way onto the page.

When I write with pen, my body approaches the page differently. When keyboarding, I sit, my chest parallel with the screen, my arms and nose pointed directly ahead, wrists together as if awaiting handcuffs. When I am writing with a pen or pencil, I sit at an angle, one hand holding the paper or journal into place, the other curled around the pen, angling it for the best script. My head is tilted and I look up regularly then back down to the page, the nib of my pen just a hair above it, awaiting.

I am not suggesting that one way of writing is universally better than other. What I am saying is that there is a way that will work best for you and if you are not finding the magic in your art, then don’t give up the art. Experiment with how you produce it. Change things around. Remember what you used when you first discovered writing and try it again. Maybe it was lined paper and a number two pencil. Or try something that you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe you love the computer but you’re tired of keyboarding into Word. If you’re a Mac user, I can highly recommend the software program “Ulysses” , available at the Mac/Apple Store. In it, you can keep your text, your notes, anything you can keyboard, you can organize into separate “projects.” If you are an organization creature like me, it’s grand. Plus you can click a setting and go to just a black screen with colored text.

It’s not important what change you make. Any change can potentially jar you from your routine and give you energy. It might be as simple as writing in a different location, one room to the next, home versus a coffee shop, outdoors rather than in. Mix it up. How can we expect our writing to be fresh and vibrant when our routines are stale.

I often compare writing to being in a relationship. You have the sense of passion and obsession when you first start and then it becomes settled and comfortable. If you’re not careful you can easily fall into dull and monotonous. Just like relationships, you need to rekindle the passion, find the desire to create, find your first love. Do that by being spontaneous, put flowers on your writing desk, buy yourself some good chocolate to enjoy while putting pen to paper, find some readers who will help you be accountable who will also bring energy to your work and process. Like relationships, don’t let your art become a job, be vigilant in finding the joy in the process, in the results.

I would drone on and on but, I’m afraid that my journal and pen have motioned to me. They say a café awaits and I’m inclined to agree. Au revoir for now!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2012 1:28 pm

    I’m enjoying reading your commentary from Paris, Terry! And I agree, sometimes pen and paper is just what you need. I’ve not done enough of that hand writing in my life recently.

  2. July 25, 2012 1:08 am

    Many thanks dear Charlotte! It truly has been a trip of a lifetime and, hopefully, enough inspiration to last a lifetime!

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