My husband and I just got back from two wonderful weeks in Europe. I had a day job conference in Paris, so we spent a week there, and then we took the train to Florence. If you want to see a lot of photos, check out my Instagram posts.
A really weird thing happened in Paris. I woke up at 3:00 one morning with a tragic gothic ballad almost complete in my head. I’ve never written a ballad before, and poetry has never been my thing. I went back to sleep. But later that morning, as I sat in my conference trying desperately to grasp some of the French, the ballad was still there. So I wrote it down. My editor has it now, and if she thinks it’s not awful I’ll share it.
Now, the creative process is always mysterious. I fully understand why the ancient Greeks believed in muses, because often ideas just seem to appear from nowhere. So we can speculate about the source of my ballad. But here’s something interesting: I was staying in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a very literary neighborhood. Sartre and de Beauvoir hung out in the cafes, as did Hemingway, Richard Wright, and Camus. Oscar Wilde died in that neighborhood, about two blocks from where I was sleeping.
There’s the view from my tiny hotel room, where there was a big window.
If you care to believe in such things, maybe the spirit of one of the neighborhood writers visited with my muse as I slept. Knowing her, she’d be delighted at the opportunity. And maybe, just maybe, the spirit and the muse cooked up a spooky little ballad to amuse me in the morning.