Over a Korean Lunch

Talking about grumpy… I was at a Korean restaurant for lunch by myself and I couldn’t help but overhear what the 2 women next table said. (Tables in Paris restaurants are so narrow and close to one another, but everyone pretends to never listen to whatever is said, while not losing a word of it of course) They were 40-ish, apparently close girlfriends. One of them at least is a published writer, and she talked for a long time about her ongoing project, a novella. She mentioned her publisher and her past experience in New York, as well as children and a spare room at the top of the house with no internet connexion, so that she can write without distraction (no, I’m no freaky stalker, I swear!). I just sat there picking at my kimchi, but I really wanted to know how she managed that.

I hit me like a huge blow that I don’t write fiction because I have no time and very little energy, and that my present circumstances don’t suggest anything in that direction. Writing on the sides of my busy life just doesn’t work, if it means serious fiction. I can find time for blogs and 3 sentences a day for my diary, but that’s it. And I am very much afraid that my job, especially in the present economic environment, will suck everything dry: my energy, my creativity, my good mood and my worryfree time.

Then the woman next to me started to bemoan the lack of creative writing programs in France, the lack of short story competitions, the lack of literary magazines publishing short stories, and how all this was extraordinary in the US etc. Except that I’m living in Paris where you don’t talk to strangers unless you’re a tourist, and that as a Parisian I have to entertain the common illusion that conversations in restaurants are totally private, I was ready to hug the woman and declare myself in complete agreement with her.

I didn’t speak up, of course. I just asked for the bill. And as I left the restaurant, I wondered how people were living just next to me, sharing my convictions and living my dreams.


2 thoughts on “Over a Korean Lunch

  1. Oh poor Smithereens. Of course you are tired and worn out and lacking the creative spark – you have a job AND a new baby. That’s enough for any woman. I feel for you so, having been through this myself. All I can tell you is this: every fallow writing period I have ever allowed myself to take has resulted in renewed and much improved creativity on my return. Being uncreative for a while can be very, very good for you. Allow yourself just to be in the moment. Think of it as a time to take things in, rather than give them out (you’re giving enough to your child). Think of it as a time to heighten your sense impressions of your world, to pay attention to the changes in you, what you’re learning, how you’re growing. Read whatever you can so you have the sense of something going in. Don’t ask the impossible of yourself and force creativity out of a preoccupied mind – this is a different kind of apprentissage, and if you can accept it for what it is, you will emerge in six months or so refreshed and renewed and with even more to say. I’m sending you a big virtual hug as I appreciated no end the one you left on my site for me! 🙂

  2. Well, I don’t have a child and yet I feel my job and my life suck away almost all of my time, too, so that I end up writing, as you say, on the edges of a busy life. And I worry, since we hope to start a family soon, that all writing will go out the window. All I can do is breathe, and believe, which I do, ultimately, that life expands for those who allow it to, and I have to be open to that expansion instead of assuming it will all be too difficult to accomplish…

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