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Paris Writing Workshops & Book Clubs (Part I) by Dominic Jensen

Dominic Jensen is the Editor of the Paris based Literary Review of New Fiction.
This is a workshop that provides writers with the opportunity to read their work to a group which is not made up of doting parents or friends who don’t want to be mean. When the reader has finished reading, he looks up at the group with an expectant smile hoping for praise or at least indulgence...

I think the greatest benefit of workshops is the face to face exposure with individuals whose take on writing can be so utterly different from one’s own. Listening to them read samples of their work is often more useful and inspiring than the disorganized criticism that flies around the room after the reading.

If you do join a workshop or a writing group, it’s the diversity of backgrounds, ages, mix of men and women which will bring it its quality. Here are some traps to be avoided...

Maurice walked into the rambling, old, ramshackle house which had been abandoned since the death of his grandmother, Celestine, more than twenty years ago. Moths danced happily in the dust of the rays of evening sun which had filtered through the broken shutters, like a cloud of confetti thrown clumsily by a child at a wedding reception.

“Is someone here?” he shouted, panic and curiosity blending in his deep voice. He occasionally sung baritone in the village choir of Blagnières.

If this is the type of excruciating writing you never want to read, you should be very careful when you choose a writers’ workshop. To avoid old houses in Provence, an overdose of adverbs and ridiculous metaphors, stay clear of programs which are scheduled on week days in the middle of the morning. I’ve got nothing personal against tentative writers whose children left home ten years and who’ve picked up writing as an alternative to knitting sweaters for their grandchildren. But twelve of them in the same room won’t do much to improve your writing.

Also to be avoided are informal groups of gothic teenagers with enough metal in their tongues and skewers in their eyebrows to set off airport security systems. They have a tendency to over indulge in happy material of this kind:

Igor threw himself to the ground and howled like an injured wolf. The blade of his knife reflected in the bleakness of the street lights as he pressed through the skin of his abdomen and blood poured onto his hands. He was living the high he would only know once: the thrill of death.

Your writing may bore them if it doesn’t involve dismembering corpses and innocent domestic animals...

Read Part II

Bonapart Paris apartments

Comments

Paul Goring

Any English speaking writers groups in Paris that can recommended?

suzanne

you could email Fragment78@aol.com (Jennifer Dick, a poet), she compiles a list of all literary events happening each month, that's writers' groups, book launch, readings, etc etc

kristi anderson

I have a B&B 90 minutes south of Paris easily reachable by train to Orléans. I am looking for writers wishing to organize workshops in the countryside. Any ideas?

suzanne

send us the details when you have them ready and we'll add the info to the website

ADAM LERMAN

Bravo! Great website Dominic. I wll call you soon, as I am planning a move to South-West France, as I will need legal advice on buying property and world tax implications. Hopefully I can afford the dream to be a musician in Europe,while the dollar's weakness serves as a bad enough hurdle at this point. Cheers,Adam
Lerman

Linda

I tried to email an address you gave "Fragment78@aol.com" and it came up as a non-working address. I'm very interested to be on the mailing list for this woman's literary event calendar, so can you please correct the address?

Thank you.

And PS: I'd be most interested to have more info about writing residencies and scholarships available in Paris.

Linda Hollander

adrian

hi Linda,
a good person to get in contact with is Ms. Lauren Elkin who runs the Maitresse blog.
http://maitresse.typepad.com/
hope this helps,
Adrian

suzanne

Jennifer Dick's email about literary events has changed, write to fragment78@gmail.com

Stephen J

I am looking for an English speaker's writers' group in Paris. Does anyone have any contacts?
Thanks
Stephen J

R Herrero

Hi! I am a writer living in Paris. I write in English. Does anyone know of a writing groups in the English language in Paris that I could look into or join? Maybe we could even organize a writing group! Thank you so much for your help! rherrero@club-internet.fr

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