before and after

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drinks on the seine

before and after

Before:

I spent most of Friday writing but none of it was a blog… again. I was writing a summary of our time so far in France. This is to be shared with our church back in NZ. I had great fun looking back through our photographs and selecting a few to share.

The frozen gardens at Versailles, in February.

It was a challenge not to go on too long about what we’ve been up to. It’s a summary, after all, so there isn’t room for much detail, and yet details make stories real and interesting, so I wanted to sprinkle a little detail throughout. In the end it was only longer than requested by half again… oops.

Louis, in February, helping to build his cot.

I’ve also been working on the start of my romance novel – fine tuning

… and I’ve printed off most of chapter one to take along to writers group this evening. I’m nervous and keep reminding myself that I’m going along to the group to improve my writing, not to gain approval. It is my manuscript and I have to choose which feedback to take and which to leave/ignore. I wonder how many genre romance stories have been read aloud at the shakespeare and co writers group? I get the feeling they’d be practiced at keeping poker faces throughout some racy poetry and prose, but more accustomed to the artistic and odd (and perhaps less marketable).

Anyway, I’m not there to gain popularity. It’d be nice, of course, but there’s more to life than being adored.

After… (writing on Sunday morning)

Well, it was great! I got overwhelmingly positive feedback – they loved the main character, they said I wrote well, they wanted more, and perhaps most importantly, the hook hooked. In the story the guy is famous for something but the girl doesn’t know what. They wanted to know what. Hurrah!

I got some helpful critique and they pointed out some bits that weren’t clear/didn’t make perfect sense. I took back the copies I’d handed out for reading and people had also written notes all over them.

I’m totally sold on this writers group thing. This particular writers group has a few steady members and then a throng of occasional paris-dwelling patrons, but most weeks I suspect it’s half made-up of visitors to Paris who’ll only be around for a month or less.

Went for a drink afterward, then down to the river with some snacks. We had been sweltering in the upstairs room at Shakespeare and Co, and it was cooler on the river but still steamy. I talked to a bunch of different people this week whereas last week I mostly chatted with just a couple.

I think I’ll meet all sorts of people from all over the world, going along to this regularly. Last night alone there was an Italian guy (hilarious poem), an English guy (in Paris for a few days to do research at the Louvre), several Americans, a couple of french women (one of whom I spoke with at length – coming along to improve her English), a Canadian (cool polka dot outfit and gave she me helpful critique) and others who’ve been in Paris so long their accents are hard to pin down (brilliant writer and ex-dancer whose stories have me hooked).

So, that’s writers group. Two weeks so far and I am looking forward to going along most weeks. It’s great to be out, on my own, to have an evening away from the kids, and I come home to find them both asleep and Luuk, who has a great understanding of what I have to deal with day to day. I love being understood.