Reclaiming Experience

This blog is a tool for recording my experiences as well as evaluating my day-to-day life. With my camera in hand, I will make meaning out of my life.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day 246: Writings

I've had an idea for awhile now to write a guidebook from the perspective of neighborhoods.  Right now the working title is Neighborhood Mosaic (too ordinary?).  I was thinking the cover could be a mosaic of my Paris pictures (black and white) that creates a scene in Paris or a map of the arrondissements.  I want to write nonfiction that will encourage people to travel to places and stand in the footsteps of what I have brought alive for them.  Growing up I remember planning trips around movies or books.  One year we did a “National Treasure” themed trip and I loved it.  There were some disappointments when I realized that there was not truth to all of the happenings and locations in the movie, but I felt something when I knew about these places and went to them.  I remember the last time I went to Paris we visited some locations featured in “The Da Vinci Code.”  Imagine if you went to places that were true and real.  While in Paris my second time, I read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway.  It is about his time in Paris and I loved how he brought Paris alive.  When I visited the places he described, it meant something to me because he gave the place significance.  What if I could write stories about people or events in certain locations that would encourage people to travel and see and feel that moment in time?  To me, this is where nonfiction is so powerful.  I find truth to be awakening.

I think I can take this book even farther by creating audio guides and an app that will be equipped with related images.  For example, if I am visiting Notre Dame and I discuss the relics, the app would have images determined by your location.

So today I started a draft.  I thought I'd post some of it on here to hopefully get some feedback and thoughts.  I've always heard that you should write for yourself.  If that is my goal, then this is how I would write.  I want to use it as a way to bring interest to others, but also preserve my memories and learn more about the places I love.  I have an idea someday that I might like to be a Paris tour guide.  This would only help me gain some of the background that I need. 

I wouldn't end this series with Paris though.  I would also really like to write one about Venice.  I think this format could work for all cities because each one has distinct neighborhoods with different character.   What do you think?

Here is a sample of my introduction.  It is in rough form, but gives you an idea.  I'll also include a segment from my Montmartre chapter.  I'd love some critiquing! 

Cities are comprised of a number of neighborhoods that give the overall identity for the city.  Each personality of a neighborhood is like a new piece of glass coming together to make the whole image.  Closer investigation into these neighborhoods reveals a distinct character and vibe of its own.  To truly appreciate a place, one must delve into the corners and back alleys that are the veins for the beating city. 
Paris is broken into 20 arrondissements or districts.  You will find that each district will affect you in a variety of ways.  There are a number of contributing factors that lead to this village within a city feeling.  Looking into the history of the neighborhood is a strong indicator for the reasoning behind these differences.  The age, art, inhabitants, and politics all create the makeup of the area. 
Neighborhood Mosaic is a combination of a guidebook and personal anecdotes.  The neighborhoods I have selected are only a few of the many that can be found in Paris.  These sites have come alive in my visits.  As you read through the anecdotes and historical references, I hope that you find yourself unable to resist the urge to buy a plane ticket so that you can stand in the footsteps of the city that has made an impact on many lives and is waiting to impact yours.

Chapter 4: Montmartre
           Montmartre was my home during my first visit to Paris.  I had graduated from college and my aunts were generous enough to pay my way for a week in Paris.  We stayed in an apartment on Yvonne le Tac; a short walk to the nearest metro.  Apartments have such a great appeal to us.  For that week, we are living with the Parisians.  We smell the garlic roasting for dinner downstairs.  Small exchanges occur as you try to squeeze past a neighbor on the stairs, trying to wind down without winding down on the ground.  You may even have the opportunity to climb over a homeless man lying across your front door.  My favorite benefit of staying in an apartment is to shop like the Parisians.  Each day we search for the freshest baguette, cheese, wine, and every other clich√© purchase.  We begin to become familiar with the man down at the little grocery.  We even set out our garbage like the rest.
If staying near the Abessess metro, be sure to pray on each journey for a working elevator.  This metro station is one of the deepest in Paris with over 200 steps to climb.  Great for exercise, but be prepared for a workout if you’ve got luggage.

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