In Hurricane Eye, Paul Simon sings...
"You want to be a writer
But you don’t know how or when
Find a quiet place
Use a humble pen"
I say, if you have a laptop then all the better. And if it isn't too quite don't worry, either. We often don't write because -- well, we don't have the right chair, we feel tired, we need to be in a library or not in a library.
Paul Simon's point -- just skip the pomp and circumstance and write the darn thing. He should know...he's a fine and prolific lyricist, indeed.
American University of Paris kindly invited me to come back this April and speak about my research -- a project I had started there about six years ago. I decided to spend an additional week doing more interviews for the book and grabbing any place I could find to do a little more writing.
Journalists know how to do this...they know how to write on the back of a steam engine or on the back of an elephant.
As a doctoral student accustomed to an office and the Library of Congress -- then a 6-week writers' retreat at the Carey Institute for Global Good, I had little experience with on-the-go writing. Paris is a good beginners spot. I figure, if my colleagues can write between bullet shots and while climbing over the rubble caused by flattening earthquakes, I can learn to write in a Parisian café.
Yes, they mock me a bit for being the petite bourgeois as compared to their shooting out 4 articles a day in the midst of mayhem, but I suspect there are others like me. And, I do think there is something to be stepping back and taking time for another level of reflection.
I set up this little writing space in my apartment in Paris to do just that. I was astonished to learn that the little dog that barks all morning in Arlington, VA seems to have a brother in Paris. I turned on the stereo and let Haydn blow him out.
Sarah Federman, PhD