You might not notice this crumpled napkin on the cobblestones outside a pub (in York, England). I see a bird with wings to fly.
1,000 posts. 125 poems. Nearly 500,000 visitors. These are the stats, but the benefits of beginning this blog nearly 21 months ago? Absolutely priceless. I've rediscovered forgotten skills; gained some new ones and perhaps most importantly, renewed confidence thanks to the encouragement and support of several kindred spirits. I've made many wonderful new friends, including a few I've had the privilege of meeting in person.
I started Paris Parfait as a way to force myself to write every day. I found it difficult writing in the dark, so to speak, with only an editor in London to critique my latest efforts. I was starting to lose perspective about my own work, so I decided to shake things up a bit.
For many years I was a journalist, which often meant rushing out to breaking news events, reporting on-the-spot. I enjoyed the interaction with sources, other journalists and photographers. In San Francisco, I worked in software development, technical and business writing, also involving much social interaction. As a writer working from an apartment in Paris, all that chatty comraderie is lost. But Paris Parfait has given me welcome interaction with other writers and artists and creative thinkers. You've provided me with more emotional ballast and support than I ever could have imagined. Whenever I begin to grow weary of producing blog content on a daily basis (in addition to working on my book), a reader - perhaps a friend or even a stranger - unwittingly sends me a message, saying the very thing I need to keep going.
One of my proudest moments was when a young woman sent email saying she'd "always known there were single mothers out there, who managed to work and travel overseas." Until she read my story, she'd never known of a specific example. At the time, she was at university, surrounded by well-meaning naysayers insistent that she and her child should remain in the relative safety of their community. I wrote her an encouraging note; a few months later, she emailed me from another country, where she was working on her master's degree and loving every minute!
Another unexpected delight was when a publisher in Budapest asked to use my photos in an English-language book about Paris. Last week, a theatre company in Belgium asked to project my photos onscreen in an upcoming production. Meanwhile, several writing projects have come my way, thanks to exposure via this blog.
On the down side, a woman emailed me asking for various tips about visiting Paris. After I responded, she thanked me. A few days later, I received spam featuring a product sold by her family! In another email, a guy asked if I had Marie-Antoinette's marriage documents!
As every writer can attest, sometimes one stares at the blank screen at a loss for words. Other times, the words tumble out faster than I can type. That is when I am in the moment, focused, sure "...I am doing the thing I was meant to do," as Anne Sexton said.
Amidst the solitude of writing, I am aware of symbolism and meaning; of signs and portents along the way. I am superstitious about talking about a work-in-progress and won't let anyone other than my editor read my work. Like an artist creating a painting, I want to keep it under wraps until it's finished.
I can see my childhood dream of writing fiction coming to fruition. In the not-too-distant future, the book will become more than some abstract notion of edited pages, but a reality. My wings are unfolding slowly - stretching - getting ready to take flight in 2008. Thank you for encouraging me to fly.
The photo of a vintage birdcage with an open door was a gift from my dear friend, the talented photographer Madelyn Mulvaney.