Well, hello world. It’s been a good… almost three four?? months now since I’ve blogged?
Lots of things have happened. Lots of things.
I went home for Christmas. Started dating a French guy who also happened to be my best friend in this small town. Celebrated my birthday in Tours. Stopped dating the French guy. (Lesson: don’t date French guys) I had a virus/the flu/who knows what and took full advantage of being covered by French healthcare. Went to Romania where there was the worst winter storm ever (in March mind you), went home to the United States for some emergency R&R, and then went back to France just in time to start work again.
It was certainly a whirlwind.
I’m sorry I haven’t blogged. I’ve honestly been in such a creative slump with all of the drama going on.
Because let’s be real: small towns wherever they are have 100x more drama than any city.
Maybe it’s all just extra dramatic because it’s French?
So I have right about 48 days left in this country. Is there anything you’d like me to blog about during that time? Throw some ideas at me.
Vomit all over your computer (or your notebook if you prefer to write by hand) until you have a first draft, because that’s exactly what a first draft is, WORD VOMIT
Now you might be saying: “Wait, Emily, what did you do this month?”
WELL, let me tell you.
There is this thing called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo that occurs every year in November. It’s a “contest” to write 50,000 words in one month.
So I did it. I wrote more than 50,000 words in a month.
I also “won” NaNoWriMo three years ago when I was studying abroad in Paris. I’ve also done a “camp NaNo,” which is essentially the same thing, making this the 3rd time I’ve completed a “Novel Writing Month.”
What I’ve learned from completing my 3rd NaNoWriMo* (if you’re a stickler this was technically only my 2nd November, but I completed Camp NaNo with the exact same 50,000 word count goal this past July)
The key to attaining any goal is consistency and practice.
I have to admit. This month I didn’t know what half the plot of my novel was. I knew who the characters were (kind of–I only had half of their names picked out) and I knew there were going to be some sort of demons… and that was about it.
AND what kept me going, what kept me from getting “stuck” was to JUST WRITE. Sit down in front of my computer and click keys. Even if that meant I was just musing about my plot and characters or actually moving my characters through the story as long as I was putting words to the page I was making progress.
And that’s it.
You can’t finish a novel if you’re not willing to put in consistent daily work to finish it. –I would know, I have a silly little unfinished novel from middle school sitting in my bedroom at my parent’s house.
You: “So what’d you write about?”
Me: “Um, well, it’s Urban Fantasy, with a female protagonist, demons, and a blood splatter of romance… uh, here have a picture:”
You: “Wow that looks so cool!”
Me: “Why thank you!”
You: “When can I read it??”
As I said at the beginning. First drafts are WORD VOMIT. The hardest thing in my opinion is writing the first draft. Getting the skeleton of the novel down. Then my writing process is to go back and add layers, add in some more three dimensionality to my characters, give people chemistry, intensify feelings, up the stakes, MAKE SURE THINGS ARE COHERENT. (Because I promise you when I reread this first draft something in it is going to make me, the author, go WTF)
So EDITING will come in the next several months. (So ask again in a couple of months if you still want to read it)
But moving on.
My work week during TAPIF (Teaching English in France) is 12 hours. So before I said yes to this program I knew I had to have plans for my alllll my other free hours so I wouldn’t waste a year watching Netflix. (So if you’re reading this blog and considering TAPIF, I highly suggest making a solid plan to fill up your free time productively!!)
So my goal has been to fill that with writing.
I’ve written/almost finished two whole novels in my first two months.
I’d say I’m crushing that goal pretty hard. 🙂
(Now back to the grindstone. I’m going to Berlin… tomorrow, so I’ve got some work to do!) Just wanted to give a tiny update to remind everyone I’m alive!
*(And other things I hear while lifting weights at a gym in France)
Since I’ve arrived my teacher contact has been taking me with her to her gym in Dreux. It’s a tiny two room gym with a weightlifting section, two treadmills, two bikes, one rowing machine, and one or two ellipticals. In the second room is a wide open space where they hold classes.
To give you guys a little bit of a background I lift weights *at least* once a week and have been doing so for over a year. And when I say lift weights I don’t mean the little 2-5 pound weights. I’m talking about thirty to a couple hundred pounds depending on the exercise/machine. That plus I’m a yoga instructor so I’m no stranger to fitness. (I promise I’m not trying to brag haha I just feel a little defensive as a girl in a gym where there aren’t really other girls who lift)
The first day my teacher brought me to a Body Pump class (which exists in English too, you can check it out here) It’s basically a high rep class that uses a bar with weights and you hit every part of the body with squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, tricep dips, abs, etc etc.
My first day was a little confusing just because it took me a little while to get used to the vocabulary. (Add more weight, take weight off, release, etc)
But at the end of the class we did “stretching” and well… I stretched like a proper yogi.
But then it was great because while everyone was freaking out about my extreme stretching thinking I was about to hurt myself… I got to speak to them in French and tell them I was a yoga instructor.
Then the next time I went there a couple days later for a crossfit class. I’d never done crossfit in my life before, but I walked into the class and the coach loaded up my bar for me. And the great thing is he didn’t go easy, he put easily twice as much weight on my bar as any other girl in the room.
And that’s pretty much when I knew I’d be sticking with this gym.
It was honestly the best thing ever because as a girl who lifts weights, sometimes guys just tend to underestimate you/look down on you and think you can’t actually lift. And considering that culturally in France girls are even LESS likely to lift weights/do sports I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the people in the gym were!
That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of strange incidents. I think everyone knows that there’s a redhead American at the gym now so they all come to talk to me while I’m working out. (As in like in the middle of my leg press reps…) And maybe it’s just the culture at this particular gym, but when someone new walks in they shake hands with every single person they pass (without introducing themselves sometimes awkwardly enough) I think I prefer the head nod culture in the states.
Whereas in France you do “La Bise”
This is what it’s supposed to look like:
Except you go down the line and do this with EVERY SINGLE PERSON. And when I’m at the gym sometimes I feel like this:
But regardless of odd introductions:
Just last week a guy told me:
“Oh you’re flexible, but you’re not that strong.”
I straight up told him: “That’s an insult. You insulted me.”
Him: “No! I said you’re flexible! You know the word flexible! Like elastic!”
Me: “Yes. I understand your French. But it was the stuff you said after that.”
Him: “Oh yeah, you’re not strong. That’s not an insult!”
Me: (fuming) “Uh, yes it is.”
But the bright side is I told the coach about what he said and he told everyone in the gym and they all thought it was an insult too. So at least its not a cultural thing! There are jerks everywhere I suppose.
The main reason I’m writing a blog post on my gym though is because I’ve started teaching yoga there! In FRENCH!
It’s been a little crazy, but it’s been going super well. I’m grateful for everyone at the gym for dealing with my eternal American accent when speaking French!
But yeah. So the gym has turned into my social life haha I go every day I can. Everyone there knows me and tries to talk to me (insults or not haha) and at the very least the Coach who teaches all the classes respects me haha.
It’s Emily here… two years later and I’m graduating college in… three weeks?!
And I’m reviving the blog because I’M MOVING TO FRANCE AGAIN!!
I have been accepted to the TAPIF program which is a teaching assistant job in France. All I know about where I will be right now is that I have been placed in the Académie of Orléans-Tours. It’s that giant region under Paris.
This region is also the châteaux region of France and home of the Lorie Valley (think wine and awesome cheese). It was one of my top picks for regions and I am so excited to be going back!
I will find out my specific city placement sometime in June/July.
This decision was not an easy one as I had been contemplating a more permanent job here in the states that would have assured me a connection to my yoga community (oh yeah I’ve become a certified yoga instructor by the way so get ready for a whole year of yoga pictures across France and Europe) which is something that I’ve come to value profoundly this year.
And then I realized, this teaching contract is only for SEVEN months! I’m not abandoning the permanent job or my yoga community – they will still be there when I come back.
This decision has ultimately been one of love and passion. I have many friends (soul sisters, best travelling buddies ever, and some friendship that were so hard to speak about aloud I created a blog for them) in Europe that I feel a profound connection and love for and the thought of never seeing them again has brought me to tears over and over. THIS is my opportunity to see them again and spend quality time with them one on one without the pressure of a job or a family to get back to.
Ultimately, I’ve realized that out of both decisions I would most likely come to regret the decision not to return to France. So here’s to living abroad and being nearly broke for the next year – that 40 hour grind can wait one more year 🙂
Until then… I won’t be going anywhere until September!
I invite you to catch up on all the adventures I had while studying abroad in 2014-2015 and follow me along this amazing adventure next year. Please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the LEFT!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!
Truth? I was in my lovely Parisian apartment… writing.
This past month I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) If you haven’t heard of it, check out the website. It’s basically a personal contest/challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. The organization has been running this “contest” for over a decade and I’ve been wanting to participate for the last several years but never found the time, until now.
Of course you might say “Why the heck would she decide to write a novel when she’s living in Paris? That would be such a waste of time!”
Did it take a lot of time? Of course. I usually spent at least 2 hours a night writing, but to call it a waste of time would be wrong.
I wrote a novel in Paris.
Writing a novel has always been something I’ve wanted to do and something I have even attempted several times. I have word documents full of story ideas and even a 35,000 word attempt from back in middle school. (For all you non-Americans when I was like 12) So when I say I’ve wanted to write a novel my entire life, I mean it.
And writing a novel in Paris was a bucket list item too tempting to be missed. Paris, the same city where Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, George Orwell were all inspired and wrote their timeless masterpieces.
So November 3rd, I sat down, already three days late and started writing. 23 days later I’d broken the goal of 50,000 words and I took a little break.
Then I continued writing slowly and I had reached the last scene of my novel when I had to leave to catch a plane to Prague. I don’t think I’ve ever been more upset to travel.
Prague was absolutely amazing (blog post to come) but as soon as I returned (and had a nice long nap) I sat down to finish the last few scene of my still unnamed work full of vampires, werewolves, witches, and one very strange tattoo.
Is it a masterpiece?
Not in the slightest. It’s a first draft full of mistakes and I spent the entire month ignoring my inner editor and writing down things I will need to go back and change, but only after I finished my first draft.
I spent most of the month in my room as I said earlier, but don’t worry because I still worked in a day trip to Versailles, a comedic play, and the Christmas markets of Paris. So I wasn’t a total shut in.
Now I’m going to go write some papers, study for finals and enjoy my last few weeks TEN DAYS in Paris before I head home for Christmas. (And then come back a few weeks later of course)
Now here’s one last obnoxious victory gif:
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A blog about a girl with a serious case of wanderlust and her quest to travel