By PD Martin
Today I want to talk about the amazing feeling of going back to my roots. I’m not talking about my literal roots (i.e. my birth place or the birth place of my family), rather I mean my creative birth place. The time and place when I first decided I wanted to write. Here’s a hint:
What about now?
Yep, you got it! Paris.
On Monday we arrived back from a three-week holiday. Our main ‘objective’ was my sister-in-law’s wedding in Ireland, but we also had a glorious five-day stopover. It was around March this year when my husband told me that he’d finally found a great deal to Ireland that would save us loads of money…“but do you mind going via Paris?” he said with a grin on his face. Needless to say, I was one happy woman!
So how and why is Paris my creative birth place?
I mentioned in my first Murderati blog that while I was into reading and creative writing in my primary school years, once I got to high school I ended up focusing on science and maths — maths, applied maths, physics and chemistry were my elective subjects. As a complete contrast, my other subject was physical education, with my main project on dancing. You see, I had danced pretty much all my life, and loved it. Anyway, while studying psychology and criminology at university, I was also taking lots of dance classes, around 30 hours a week at one stage, and also did acting and singing lessons. Over the next couple of years dancing petered out and singing took over. I finished my psychology degree and started studying music. Then I took time off from school and worked a bit before travelling.
I was 21 years old when I took off on the typical Aussie pilgrimage…backpacking around Europe. I went with my boyfriend for four months and it was on this trip that my creative spark burned brightly. My boyfriend at the time was (and still is) a photographer and he was also a gifted artist. So it was natural that we’d hit many of the artistic hotspots, including Paris. What can I say, I fell in love immediately. Was it the incredibly impressive buildings? The many artists who had been born or studied in Paris? The ambience of the place? The history of the place? The answer is, of course, all of these things and so much more. Coming from Australia, all our buildings and architecture is relatively new (like North America). And there’s something about the sense of history that oozes from every inch of Paris (and Europe) that’s inspiring and exhilarating. It drives me to create. And that feeling was there again on this visit. I mean, look at this:
But back to my first visit to Paris…Within a few days in Paris, I wanted to write. I wanted to write my own lyrics for songs, I wanted to write poems, I even wanted to write a book. I tracked down an English bookstore in Paris and bought their one and only book on creative writing. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was quite large (a university text book rather than a mass market paperback) and of course being an English book in a French-speaking country it came with a high price tag. But it was worth it.
A couple of days later, I found myself in the magical Rodin gardens. My boyfriend was drawing the amazing sculptures (like many other budding artists around us) and I was writing in a newly acquired notebook, with my creative writing text book at my side. We spent hours there (twenty years ago!) and so this trip I had to go back to the Rodin museum and gardens.
There didn’t seem to be quite as many people sketching the sculptures as last time, or perhaps my memory has simply amplified the numbers I remember from my first visit. But the whole place still triggered that creative impulse.
Then there’s the food. Let’s just say, I ate a LOT of baguettes in five days, some not-so-nice French wine and some gorgeous French wine, loads of cheese (yummy and so much cheaper than here in Oz) and a few treats from gorgeous patisseries. I have a major sweet tooth, and passing shops like this sent my heart racing!
From this particular place I tried the Opera cake and it was divine.
The ambience of the restaurant and café culture is stunning, and we also did the pre-requisite visit to the Louvre. To me, every part of Paris is inspiring.
Now I’m back, safe and sound, although still a little jet lagged and with an annoying cold. But who cares…I was in Paris!
I’d like to say I can launch back into my writing, the creative spark burning incredibly brightly. But unfortunately, I’ve got two ghost-writing gigs on the go, and two corporate jobs. But while I’m doing those the subconscious will no doubt be ticking over, ready when I return to my new book again. And then I’ll be channelling Paris!
PS The wedding was fabulous too, and Grace was the perfect flower girl!
PPS I forgot to say…Paris is also where my husband proposed to me, 13 years ago!