Another wonderful post,
by another wonderful author.
Today's featured guest is
I never intended to become a writer, although I had been writing since my childhood — poems, songs, stories, plays (one of which was put up at school). I never thought much of it. Children are naturally creative and experiment in lots of different things before finding their vocation or the chance path of their lives. I suppose I did the same. Once I became an adult I found myself needing to express myself in writing whenever I felt strongly about something. Eventually things became cristallised around France, and Paris in particular, not because Paris is the unique city many people fall in love with, but quite the contrary. I had issues with Paris, because the place and the people both compelled me and exasperated me. Mistakenly, my readers believe that I was unconditionally in love with Paris. I wasn't. At the time when I wrote my books my feelings were complicated. It was a love-and-hate relationship. Writing about Paris was like going through therapy. I had to understand the French psyche, with all its paradoxes and contradictions. And of course the myths and the mystique.
It took me fifteen solid years to plunge into the psyche of Paris. Almost nothing else mattered during those fifteen years. I was wholly engrossed in and committed to my project. I slept it, I breathed it. It mattered little whether it was day or night, winter or summer. It was my one commitment (obviously it wouldn't have been possible with young children at home). I am pretty sure that without that kind and level of commitment, I could have never written such books. There can be no concessions. It takes a lot of sweat. And time cannot come into the equation, for the simple reason that writing flows from inspiration. You can't stop that flow; you must keep going, somewhat like beating an egg into a mayonnaise, steadily and patiently, adding the oil, drop by drop until the yolk starts thickening. If you stop midway, everything collapses. You never know beforehand how long it's going to take. Hence the long hours of anxiety that accompany any creative undertaking.
The intensity has since subsided, because my next books were easier ones to write. But there is no vouching what will happen in the future. I write a lot of articles these days, which obviously don't take as much out of me as full-length books do. Yet even an article is a demanding task, even though easier to balance with other activities (and one's own private life). However, I would not express it as "balancing writing with one's 'real' life," because writing IS part of one's real life. The object of writing may be fictional, but the writing itself couldn't be more REAL! Since every bit of us is involved, together with the above-mentioned anxiety, the fear, the responsibility, the frustrations, but also the immense joy.
Author Thirza Vallois is an expert on all things Parisian and lectures worldwide on Paris and France. She has lived in Paris most of her life and holds several post-graduate degrees from the Sorbonne, including the most prestigious agrégation. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed Around and About Paris series, Romantic Paris Aveyron, and A Bridge to French Arcadia. Thirza Vallois has appeared on PBS, BBC, the Travel Channel, the French Cultural Channel, Discovery and CNN and has spoken on radio in the UK, the US and France. She is also the author of the Paris entry to the Encarta Encyclopaedia and contributes regularly to the international press. Her award-winning Three Perfect Days in Paris story was published in United Airlines' Hemispheres and aired on their international flights.