NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Writer's Bookshelf: A WRITER'S PARIS by Eric Maisel

living the dream in the Place des Vosges

Reference / Writing
Writer's Digest, 2005
 224 pages  $18.99
A popular movement in the last few years touts the idea of visualizing your desires. That idea may be the subject of some other post; it isn’t the topic of this one. But I will say that sometime in the fall of 2005 I devoured Eric Maisel’s A Writer's Paris like a crème brûlée. His promise that anyone, anywhere, could achieve the dream of taking at least a little time to write in Paris had me salivating. I dreamed of it; I lived and breathed it. By summer 2006, I was sitting on a bench in the Place des Vosges with a notebook in hand.

Eric Maisel is a renowned creativity coach, author of books like Creativity for Life: Practical Advice on the Artist's Personality, and Career from America's Foremost Creativity Coach (New World Library, 2007) and Fearless Creating: A Step-by-Step Guide To Starting and Completing Your Work of Art (Tarcher, 1995). I’ve often thought how nice it would be to have such a coach to cheer me through the lonely days of writing (and there are plenty). A Writer’s Paris comes pretty darned close. Subtitled A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul, Maisel’s book is both a love letter to the most beautiful city on earth as well as a reminder of how privileged we are to be able to write. Each of his 34 essays explores a different theme of how staying in Paris, a city that has always revered artists of all stripes, can affect your craft. Some advice is practical—where to go, what to do—and some addresses your creativity (don’t forget to write while you’re there). His prose transports you, whether he’s describing a stroll to the Île St-Louis or comparing writer’s block to the perfectionism of picking only the best apricots from a market stall. Somehow a modest footbridge, a seat in the Luxembourg garden, and the steps of Sainte-Chappelle all become metaphors for the writing life.

Beautifully illustrated, bound in cloth and sized to fit easily in your tote, this book is an inspiration, whether or not you ever set foot on French soil. Yes, Maisel urges you to go to Paris. But more than that, he opens up the possibility of it. No dream seems unreachable, no goal elusive in his confident hands. Part travel memoir, part writing tool, A Writer’s Paris fills the heart and drives me to my keyboard. I find myself asking not “How?” but “Why not?” I can’t ask for a better coach than that.

If you’re experiencing déjà vu, don’t adjust your TV. A version of this post appeared in an earlier blog in 2008.


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