“… for some of us, books are as important as almost anything on earth.
What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid, squares of paper
unfolds world after world after world,
worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.
Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave.
They show us what community and friendship mean;
they show us how to live and how to die….
An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift.”
(Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, pages 14-15)
I wanted to let you know about something special going on on Paris this coming weekend.
WHAT: a book sale where one can buy paperbacks for only a euro and hardcovers for 2€
WHEN: Sunday, March 25, 2012, noon to 4 pm
WHERE: Orrick Law Offices, 31, avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75016, Paris
WHY: The semi-annual book sale is one of the main fundraisers for the volunteer organization SOS Help, an English-language emotional support line for the international community in France.
Since 1974, SOS Help has been “listen[ing] to callers speaking about issues as wide-ranging as loneliness, depression, health concerns, bereavement, money problems, unemployment, difficulties with friends or family, or substance abuse.” Anonymous and confidential, the listening line is staffed from 3 pm to 11 pm every day of the year by volunteers who are trained by professionals “to provide empathetic, supportive, and non-judgmental listening to anyone going through a difficult or painful life experience.” (quotes from the SOS Help Facebook Info page linked above. For more information, also see their website: SOS Help)
I can’t imagine a more fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon than to shop for inexpensive books and help out a very worthy organization at the same time. In fact, to inspire you, just check out this haul that Sion of Paris (Im)perfect came away with last October during the fall sale in her post Books, Glorious Books!
I am going this year with a really big bag and some babysitting cash in pocket. In fact, one wee one I watch has parents that volunteer for this organization, and they are really swell people. I’m happy to put some of my earnings back to an organization they support. Full circle, pay-it-forward, All That Jazz. Result? I get to read more in the process. Also, if you have books you would like to donate, you can take them with you! Lighten your load!
Can’t come to Paris to participate? Well, find something you can do in your community this weekend to support a worthy cause.
So, how am I seizing the day of late? How am I taking care of myself? Read on to find out what I have been up to in trying to accomplish these two goals.
Maybe some of you remember that last November I was once more “NaNo-ing” and writing a novel in 30 days (see here). My goal was to write 50,000 words of a fictional work, and my personal goal this year was to have a clear beginning, middle, and end to the story (aka “a plot”). I did it! I wound up writing 52,389 words, which translates to 175 pages of creative fiction.
I took the month of December off, although I was doing things to further my creative process. I had a chance to meet up with Cynthia Morris of Original Impulse. She lives in Denver, my hometown, and she was in town for a few weeks. We had a chance to connect a couple of times while she was here, and I was so inspired talking to her. If you don’t already follow her blog, and you are a creative type who would like to get your creative juices flowing, please check out her posts. She also creates really fun videos and has a newsletter you can sign up for, too. If you are really serious about getting a creative kick in the pants, she is a writing and creative coach, and you can hire her for her services. Her workshops also look terrific. Check her stuff out.
In January and February I read a few more Young Adult novels to remember what things I liked about some of my favorite books when I was 11 to 14 years old.
I downloaded to my Kindle and read Anne Lamott’s book I quoted up there. Yes! I got a Kindle for Christmas! I find there is some irony with the quote I posted and the fact that I read her work on writing on an eReader. I did not know how I would feel about having one, but my best friend got me one and so of course I accepted it and have been reading on it. I honestly have to say it’s great. I appreciate so much being able to carry several books in my handbag, as well as English/French French/English dictionaries. Since I don’t have a Smartphone (yet), having the Kindle has made my reading experience much more portable. I can also download articles from the web using a web application called Kindle It. Someone’s blog too long to read while you are at the computer? (*ahem*) Use Kindle It to download and read it when you can on your Kindle (or other readers, too. See the site for more info).
I will never give up “real books” (obviously — what you see pictured is a fraction of the books I have accumulated in the 3 years and 9 months I have lived here — the ones in that stack are mostly ones I still have to read. And a couple of DVDs to watch, too). I have discovered that for doing research and studying, it is a lot better for me to have an actual text in front of me. Patterns of learning are hard to change at my age and stage. And then there are books that seem worthy to me of having in either paperback or hardcover. I like colored pens and underlining in my books. I like dog-earing pages and the feel of paper in my hands. But, more than anything I LOVE TO READ so I think an eReader is for me, too. I am a READER first, and a book lover second. Heck, I will read almost anything that has print on it and don’t really care what format it is in, as long as I am inspired, educated, transported, entertained…
So what about my “book”? This month I decided to start Martha Alderson’s program (she has a 30-day follow up program called “PlotWriMo” that I am trying out from her blog The Plot Whisperer). It’s to help me revise what I wrote for NaNoWriMo this past year.
So far, I have worked on five days’ worth of her material. I’m about two weeks behind schedule from the daily work I thought I might do. I kind of got a little discouraged when in the first week of work I realized that I really did not have a “CRISIS” nor an adequate “CLIMAX” to my tale. Sure, I have a crisis and climax — I know that they are a part of a good plot and I did write a crisis and climax of sorts. But they suck royally. Honestly, I followed Martha’s advice and still have not even read through my draft. Doing that comes in the third week of work, I think (which will be the third month of work at the rate I am going). I just know from my memory of what I wrote that my novel is void of an interesting and gripping crisis and climax, and has really, really sucky aspects to it.
I want to get back to revising and CARPE DIEM with regards to the novel, but… I dunno.
To be more honest, spring is arriving, and it is really pretty. And it makes me want to be outside, enjoying life instead of writing stories about imaginary people.
The tulips in my planters which I put in the Ghetto Garden are starting to sprout/grow/do their thing.
For some other lovely spring photos, and a helluva fantastic post on the Île-de-la-Cité (sister island of the Île-de-Saint-Louis in the Seine), please hop over to Peter’s Paris March 15 post “Close to Notre Dame.”
In fact, it is officially changing into the Vernal Equinox as I type and post this. Well, I think it is something like 5 am GMT on the 20th (so the 19th for those of you in North and South America). HAPPY SPRING!
I have many things on my To Do List. Many of them go undone. I am trying to keep a balance between caring for myself (my health and well-being are still a little precarious these days. Maybe a post on that in the future…) and seizing life day by day. I have not found the answer to achieving that balance, and honestly don’t know what I am going to do with my draft.
I’m really proud of doing what I did. It’s not easy to create a world on paper. Authors, even the crappy ones, have my utmost respect because it is, in fact, REALLY HARD to get a decent novel on paper, and for very little reward except knowing you did it. Or, if you are one of the Stephen Kings of the world, then perhaps a nice house or car. But those kinds of authors are relatively rare. I’m not in it for that kind of glory. I’d just really like to write a book I might have read and liked when I was a kid. I’d like some kid to read it and be inspired by the characters and world I create. I’d like them to be able to escape into the story and get lost in it for a few hours or a few days (or maybe weeks, I guess, if the kid is an über-slow reader).
I am not sure what I owe it or myself in continuing to revise it at this point, though. I’m discouraged by the hard work, and distracted by the many, many things that grab my attention in a given day. I’m also not sure if this is the story that really grabs me and makes me want to write it. Any of you know what I mean?
How do you grapple with the things you need or want to do? How do you try to keep balance in ordering your life and your To Do List? Any great time management tips you have? Please share them below. I’d appreciate it. Or, if you have advice about revising a work. I could use that, too.
Well, speaking of time, and making time for me, taking care of myself, and achieving things on the To Do List, I need to wrap this up and go read my book club book. We’re meeting on Thursday and I still have a LOT to read. It’s The Lemon Tree. I really like it, but I have not been keeping up with reading it over the past month. So it’s off to bed with me, and into the book.
Have a great first day of Spring and see you here again soon!
Over & out.
(an alien parisienne)
P.S. I have a very busy week after today & through the rest of the week. Please pardon me if I don’t reply to your comments right away or post them quickly if they have gone into moderation. Also FYI, there is a lovely blog I read and, for some weird reason, my comments always go to her spam folder! I send her a note on Twitter and she checks her Spam folder and posts my comment. If you ever comment and it does not post, please feel free to send me a note via the Contact page to let me know. It may have inadvertently gone to the Spam folder here on WordPress! I can fish it out and make sure it posts.
P.P.S. Here is another cute photo I took on Friday that I wanted to share: