Lo the many years ago I dreamed of writing in Paris. You know the fantasy? Sitting in your lovely garret overlooking the Île de la Cité,` and the great American novel comes flowing out of your fingertips. In Paris you are no longer you—no. In Paris, you are the you that is a brilliant writer who is possessed by the muse. In Paris, you know nothing of writer’s block, procrastination or a desire to waste an afternoon looking at Alexa Chung’s Instagram. In Paris, you write like Hemingway, Nin, Henry Miller and Rimbaud in a mélange more delicious than anything served up at Ladurée. In Paris, writing is easy peasy and bien sur brilliant.
Before I had even booked a flight on Air France, I remember my fantasy being punctured by an American writer who wrote a lot about writing in Paris. It was Eric Maisel, Ph.D. the author of Writers Paris and his wise interventions that if you want to write in Paris, you need to start writing where you are. Ouch! I remember when I read Maisel’s wise “stop-using-Paris-to-procrastinate” words stinging hard. I had, like many before me, fallen into "that in the perfect place/in a perfect circumstance, I will be able to do this thing I want to do and I will do it perfectly.” I felt like I had been caught in a whopper of a delusion and felt more than a little embarrassed that I had fallen into such a doozy of a fanciful Francophile fantasy (kind of like that feeling when you realize you accidentally tucked your dress into your tights and have been walking around with your derrière exposed—not that I have ever done such a thing).
Eric Maisel bitch slapped me metaphorically with his ‘stop screwing around and waiting for Paris’ advice and because of his intervention, I have stopped using the “when I get to Paris” excuse. Thank you Eric! However, I have new versions of this insidious lie that could use some challenging. You know the lies. Perhaps you have indulged in a few? I need my desk to be clean before I can begin this project. I need new workout shoes before I can take a walk. I need the kitchen to be remodeled before I can throw a party. I need to lose weight before I can start dating. I need to clear out the garage before I can call the repairman. I need to know everything before I can do anything; lies, lies, lies—all of them---a pack of lies.
I have imagined this day for a long time now, the day when I returned to blogging. It was a day when I had that big project done. The day that I didn’t have other things due and I would have time, space and perhaps a Piña Colada in my hand. Well, the projects are done and things due are turned in, but time and space and Piña Coladas are not in hand---but I am here anyway. I decided to challenge the lies and half-truths that I need things to be a certain way. That there are ducks that need to be in a row, cats that need to be herded and Piña Coladas need to be poured, I don’t. I don’t need everything to be perfect before I do what I want to do.
What needs do you tell yourself to come first that are simply not true? How about these? Workout when you feel like it? Not likely. Write when you are inspired? Ha! Be anxiety free before trying something new? No way, not possible. Mastery before trying something? Lie. Perfection before self-love? Definite big whopper of a lie. These are all pre-requisites I used to believe and have all moved into the “Paris is the answer” file.
These phony-bologna created pre-requisites aren’t real, we make them up. Yes, first things sometimes need to come first, but we also need to challenge Paris, Piña Coladas and the need for ducks to be in a line. Call the handyman, sign up for the class, get on the dating service, love yourself now, throw the party and start writing while in Peoria. Don’t wait. Perfection will never come. Ducks will never be in a row, never---it’s not what ducks do.