20.6.11

Literary Locations - will your work always be better in you live in Paris?

       Many aspiring writers, myself included, have fallen for the idea that to write anything interesting or of worth, you must be living on the edge in one of the world’s great capitals, sleeping by day and slave to the bright lights and pen by night. One must really live, one must really feel, one must drink and smoke by the Seine with one hand on an earth-shattering idea and one foot in a pit of destitution. How could one write in a daylight hours after a good night’s sleep and a morning of adaptive suburban socialising? I must be Hemingway: leaving my wife whilst fighting the Fascists and spending my last dime on the whisky that is ruining my life.


 The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition It’s the most seductive of ideas. When moving back to the UK after our first overseas posting, my husband and I were faced with the threat of several remote, gossipy garrison towns (mentioning no names) that I felt certain would just kill my literary aspirations outright with the non-trials of family hour in the mess bar, cutting the grass on Sundays and unassailable quantities of sweet, lukewarm tea. I would just die, die!, I was sure of it (sweeping hand to forehead), as I’d never be able to write anything away from the teeming urban masses who lived what I considered to be ‘real’, properly lived-out lives.
It makes me smile to think of it now. The frustration of the situation would have produced a veritable embarrassment of angst and I’d have been so bored that I’d be overflowing with motivation and be spending great stretches of time inside my own head. All I’d ever want to do in Paris was to tell people I was a ‘writer in Paris (darling)’ and shop and sightsee and cultivate my wearing of the Breton stripe.
Since then I have existed in a kind of urban/suburban middle ground, with a novel on the way, some short stories under my belt and the fruits of my blog, which are here for you to see. With no distractions I could have achieved so much more - 3 novels and a Pulitzer at least. Or maybe not. But still, who ever wrote anything good up in Catterick?* 

*sorry*
(*For those of you who don’t know, Catterick is an army town in a somewhat isolated position about 4 hours north of London.)
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