It sounds paradoxical, I know. People ordinarily flock to paradise for inspiration, right? Beautiful surroundings are often harbingers for creativity; I know this for a fact. As a writer who is deeply influenced by her surroundings, I depend on them constantly.

I live in paradise. A little town in a mountain valley flocked by rivers, foot hills, snowcaps, sage meadows, aspen groves and red rock cliffs. Nearly 6000 people live in town, a cocktail of hippies, artists, ranchers, recreationalists and Mexicanos. Thai, Meditteranean, farm to table, organic, Mexican and contemporary American restaurants line our eight block Main Street, accompanied by yoga studios, art centers and a hole-in-the-wall food co-op. You’d think that with all this niceness I’d have no trouble making the words flow. Au contraire.

Years ago in grade school, I took a test to determine my learning style. One of the questions addressed the type of chair I prefered to sit in while doing school work: hard seat or cushioned and comfortable. Without a pause I chose the hard seated chair option. When sitting on a cushioned, comfy seat I find that it’s easy to get distracted, complacent, maybe even a little lazy. On a hard seat however, I’m constantly paying attention to my work, sitting up straight and focused (and I look forward to finishing the work so I can get up and ease the pain in my tush!).

So it is similar with work environment beyond the chair. Living in a perfectly beautiful place and attempting to stay focused on anything beyond the beauty before you is nearly impossible. Who wants to sit in a chair at all when instead you could be hiking in the endless sunshine, running on mountain trails or climbing limestone cliffs? When living in the city, however, I was constantly inspired thanks to the diversity of its humanity, yes, but also thanks to the challenge of the experience. A hard edge and slight discomfort in your surroundings can not only help you to focus, but can also feed the creativity. Experiencing conflict in life or surroundings helps the writer to understand and share the essential story-telling element of conflict on the page.

Or at least that’s my latest and greatest excuse for not posting as often as I should on these pages. And now, I think I’ll go gaze at the mountain for a while…