How many of us have dreamed of moving to France and becoming writers? Unlike the US, France takes its writers very seriously, and no one would ever reply “So what’s your real job?” after you tell them you’re a writer. Joining the historic literary club of expat writers such as Hemingway, Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Orwell, Oscar Wilde, Somerset Maugham, Gertrude Stein, Anais Nin, William Wharton, David Sedaris and so many others may seem like an unattainable dream for many, but it’s not impossible.
With the strong Euro these days, American writers can no longer live off of their occasional short story or poetry sales in US dollars. But there are still many modern writers making a decent living in France. Have a look at some of these writer websites:
Harriet Welty Rochefort is the author of French Toast and has a very helpful website about living in Paris. Ethan Gilsdorf is a poet, journalist and writing instructor who’s very involved in the literary community in Paris. Polly Platt is the author of the original cross-cultural understanding book, French or Foe? David Lebovitz is a chef and writer of gourmet pastry cookbooks, and conducts tours of the French culinary world. There are many, many other writers, of course, living the modern writer’s life in France. So where to meet them?
Writers no longer congregate in cafés as much as they used to, but end up sitting around the computer most of the time (like you are now). But there’s still quite a few literary happenings around Paris, many listed in the events section of the Paris Voice Magazine. The English Education and Cultural Center, WICE, has writing classes, an annual writers’ conference, and their own literary magazine called Upstairs at Duroc. Other literary journals based in Paris include Frank, the bilingual Double Change, and The Kilometer Zero Project, which organizes regular events in Paris.
The English Paris bookstores are also good places to meet other writers during signings and book launches, such as Shakespeare & Co., The Abbey Bookshop, Brentano’s, and the Red Wheelbarrow. Those interested in the more mundane aspects of being an expat writer — taxes, social security, press card (for journalists), etc. — can find links on my website.