Une embuche: Obstacle, pitfall, difficulty in French + My Writing Process, deadlines, and How to finish a post
une embûche (ahm-bewsh)
: pitfall, obstacle; difficulty; piège, or trap set for someone
Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and the following examples: Download MP3 or Wav file
semer d'embûches = to load/fill with obstacles/challenges
une question pleine d'embûches = a loaded question
A chaque chemin ses embûches, chaque humain un jour trébuche. Each road has its pitfalls, every human, his a day of faltering. —Daniel DesbiensIn Books:
- The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes. Click here.
- Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. Click here to read the reviews
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
One Page at a Time
A broken barrier is just one of the rewards that have come out of this decision to write my personal narrative. I have come across many obstacles on this writing path, but perhaps the biggest one has to do with my method of churning out a story.
Though the particular writing technique I use also happens to be the secret to my productivity, it is, ironically, the very reason I stay stuck, unable to create more than a vignette, an anecdote, or an essay....
You see, for ten years I have practiced writing before a blog audience. In this very post, the one you are now reading—very likely via email—I taught myself to write. To put it differently, your inbox has been my classroom and you have been the attentive, if accidental, teacher.
My compositions are read le jour J, that is, the very day the story is written, most often in the hours that follow publication. The moment I hit "publish", it's too late to go back. The story is on its way through cyberspace, soon to arrive in your inbox. No way to reach into your Gmail or Yahoo or AOL account and add the needed comma or the missing modifier—not that I know what one of those is. I'm still learning--grammar, punctuation, precision and, lately how to be a relaxed writer. ("Free write!" you say, and I am reminded, among other things, to let loose!)
The growing pressure to say what I have to say by the lurking deadline is just the ticket I need to eke out (BTW, you taught me to spell it eke, and not eek) another story. It is thanks to you, the reader, that I am able to quickly narrow down a topic and set to writing about it. As I write, I edit and fine-tune, aware that the clock is ticking, this story--in whatever state it finds itself--will soon go out to a live audience. Are the words clear enough? Have I said all I meant to say? Will you still like me after this latest installment? Am I supposed to care? How could I not care?!...
This brings me to the "tell-all" memoir I mentioned last week. After reading your emails and letters, I have decided to write the first draft of the book "off blog", in private. And here is where I am confronted with my biggest writing barrier: after writing for an audience, can I write for myself? Won't I fall off the wagon?
Without you, to report to, could I churn out more that a few paragraphs without a "live" deadline? Would a self-imposed deadline be enough? Would I respect it? Would I take it seriously, feel the pressure innately?
All one can do is try. I began trying this week, to break down that barrier that I had put up when I told myself I can only write under these specific conditions--and no other!
And now for the good news.... Alone in my writing nook, I have completed the final two parts of chapter one!
Though I have finished the first draft of chapter 1, all 15 pages, the rest of the narrative looms ahead of me. Last night I had a "will never realize this dream of memoir-writing, what was I thinking" moment. The future is riddled with doubt, and if I focus beyond the current "page", I will never make it.
Or, as my very loving sponsor reminds me, "You will make it, Darling Heart, you will—one day at a time.
A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.
Ways to contribute:
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Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens