Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I did something I swore I would never do: I agreed to update my guidebook. As those close to me are aware, my guidebook-writing experience was an ordeal that nearly drove me (and them) insane. I know, I know, everyone says the same thing: “wow, you get to write a guidebook! How fun! You get to run around Paris and sample restaurants and museums all day! I’d love to do that!” I was having more or less the same thoughts when I accepted the job, truth be told. But think about this equation: 130 museums, plus 100 or so restaurants, plus about 80 hotels, not to mention a ton of parks, monuments, and assorted other stuff, all to be written up in six, count ‘em, six months. Yes, that’s 330 printed pages to write and research in six months. Add the care and feeding of a four-year old child and minimal marriage maintenance, and you’ve got a recipe for a nervous breakdown. I’m not saying that parts of it weren’t fun—there were even some sizable chunks. But after nine months (my six stretched into nine), I never wanted to see a guidebook again, let alone work on one.
Time heals all wounds, and a couple of years later my resolve has softened as my bank account has emptied. Employment has been elusive. My most recent writing job was a short article on the history and merits of marshmallows. Let’s just say Frommers made me an offer that was surprisingly reasonable and I took it. Mostly, I have even more time to do about a third as much work—updating mostly consists of changing prices and small details. So I’m back out on the streets, bothering busy hotel and restaurant owners with nosy questions. Yesterday I visited the newly remodeled Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature), a museum that tries to reconcile man’s love of animals with his desire to kill them. Food for thought. Well, it’s a start. I’ll keep you posted…