Despite having an active literary scene in Paris, I think the other writers here are the one thing that have disappointed me most in this new city.

At home I was part of a freelance writing group. We held monthly workshops, focusing on how to find work, get published, write query letters, discover new sources, manage our time, etc.

Although I was new to freelancing, the group was quick to help me find work and meet editors. They used their connections to introduce me to several magazines in the region and start getting published from day one.

Had it not been for that group I would have been working as a bartender or waitress somewhere. Instead I was making money as a writer and enjoying it for the first time in years.

When I arrived in Paris I hoped to find the same kind of camaraderie among writers. I hoped to find a group that would help me find work here as well.

Instead, what I found were writers who are much more abstract about working as writers.

They’re the writers everyone assumes I am when I say I do freelance for a living.

They go to writing groups to talk about themselves and all their grand plans. Not to find out how to improve their writing or make it worth reading.

They’re all working on a novel, a collection of essays, a book of poems.

They’re writers.

And they all look down their noses at me.

“What are you working on?” Is the resounding question I get when I go to these writing groups.

Well, I just had an article published about the biotechnology industry. Now I’m looking for some opportunities to do some travel writing.

“Oh. But what are you working on?”

Right.

Apparently I’m not REALLY a writer.

Because my work will actually be seen by other human beings.

Because I’m actually getting paid for what I write.

Because I’m not adding another novel to the pile of chick lit in bookstores.

Because I don’t have an 80,000 word diatribe about the state of the world today and how it’s all America’s fault.

The writing community may be very active here, but unless you can look at all other writers as insignificant insects whose souls should be crushed, don’t even bother.

You have to be willing to sit above everyone and talk about how uncultured they are because they still think Paris is amazing. Because they aren’t jaded and bitter that their novel still hasn’t been published. Because they actually enjoy life.

Otherwise, you may as well just go home.

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