A sip of rich, dark java from a Mellor press while sitting at a tiny table in a café overlooking the Seine. That sounds like a perfect ritual in the life of an artist. I certainly found it to be so when I spent a month in Paris performing at the renowned Theatre Chatelet a few years ago. Cities like Paris, Kyoto and Santa Fe, filled to overflowing with artistic expression, inspire with virtually every sight, sound, taste and aroma to indulge our creative impulses. California’s Central Coast happens to inspire me and I spend lots of time there writing What the Heart Knows and all my Milford-Haven Novels.
This leads to the intriguing question: does creativity come strictly from within us? Or do we need some external elixir to prime the pump? I answered these and other questions with a seminar I created called Ten Keys to Creativity several years ago but, of course, creativity is an ongoing study, a life-long practice.
Cynthia Morris not only knows, but lives this truth. She has an interesting evolution as blogger and author (her novel is Chasing Sylvia Beach and her non-fiction book is Create Your Writer’s Life), creativity coach and travel guide. Though she lives in the States, she still spends some of her time in Europe, and it feels very exotic that indeed this last visit on my blog tour finds me “virtually” in Paris with Cynthia. She began blogging in 2005 as a way to share her creativity tours in France, then the blogging evolved further as she journaled a year as a creative nomad.
What’s the primary purpose of Original Impulse? “I blog as a way to share my work as a coach for writers and artists. I address common challenges in the creative process with my (hopefully) unique and inspiring solutions. For me, blogging is a way to continually grow as a writer and storyteller. I love that blogging has given so many creative people a place to stretch and share their vision.”
For my visit, Cynthia suggested I focus on place or setting in the Milford-Haven Novels. We agreed immediately that in some ways fiction really is location, location, location. This is certainly the case with my novels, which take their name from their location, and in which my fictional town in some ways becomes another character. Since Milford-Haven is based loosely upon the real town of Cambria, California, Cynthia asked me which things I kept the same, and which things I changed, and also why that particular setting is so perfect for my story. That led to an interesting discussion, and many more probing questions. I think you’ll enjoy the whole dialogue at Original Impulse.
For me, creativity is flow, and I understand it best when thinking in a river-metaphor, with eddies and currents, boulders and dams, slippery banks and waterfalls. But the title of Cynthia’s blog points to two of creativity’s most vital elements: originality, and the impulse to create. Are these matters of the head, or the heart? Surely they’re both, in the sense that we use our heads to study art that has gone before, to choose our artist-materials, and to journey to locations where our art will flow. And our heads recognize good art when we see it, and give credit where credit is due. But true originality comes from the heart, and can’t be faked or copied, repeated or reproduced. An original impulse is what the heart knows.
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