Friday, August 15, 2008

Muse Quest PDX

Romancing the Creative Life in Portland, Oregon

Kim Switzer

Living In Inspiration

I have so much going on in my writing life right now—a new writers’ group, a chance to interview Maureen McQuerry for a blog tour in September, submissions for the writing workshop at OryCon…I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed.
I am a little worried that my story ideas aren’t good enough or that they’ll dry up. I’m worried that I won’t think of good questions for the upcoming interview. I’m scared that I won’t get anything together to submit for the workshop. I’m just feeling a little fretful overall (but I have that wonderful tingle of butterflies in my stomach letting me know I’m on the right track, so it’s okay).
I know that all artists have all of this sort of stuff going on all the time. We all get frazzled by it. I’m lucky, though . Right now, I’m sitting in my grungy, dumpy, day-job office, feeling tense and anxious. But if I turn my chair toward the window, I can look across the street and see the river twinkling in the sunlight. I watch the little, golden wavelets going by, the constant flow of water, and somehow I can remember to breathe. I watch the water, and I can feel the calm settling into me. And later, when I’m heading home, I will have my driving companion, Mt. Hood, to remind me to stay steady, stay cool. It’s an incredible stroke of luck to be surrounded by this sort of beauty.
I think Portland is just made for writers and artists and any creative sorts—just look at the scores of musicians and writers and artists all around Portland and the Pacific Northwest for proof. There’s something about this place that just draws out your creativity, pours ideas one after the other into your brain so you can barely keep up, barely manage to write them all down. Maybe it’s the scenery. Twenty minutes out of the city and I can be in the Columbia River Gorge, walking under waterfalls. Not so much further, and I can actually be at the base of Mt. Hood, dwarfed by its size, stirred by the grandness. Or I can go just over an hour in the other direction and be standing on the Pacific coast, watching the breakers roll in, feeling the wind with its salty tang. You can just tell there are hundreds of stories at the coast, in and amongst all the crags and rocks and inlets. And this part of the world is so generous with the stories and inspiration. If you will only take a few minutes to look around and appreciate, you’ll always be rewarded.
Could I have these sorts of inspirations somewhere else? Of course. Most of it is inside me already; the landscape just helps me let it out. But there’s something magical about being reminded of the constant flow of creativity when I look at the river coursing past, something powerful about remembering the strength of my own creativity as I take in the steady, powerful presence of the mountains. If you look around, you will find that creativity is written everywhere in this place. You just have to take the time to look and remember that you know how to read it.
And I do know. And I know I have to take what I’ve drawn to me from this place I live in and put it into my work. But I know I can do that, too.

Kim Switzer is an aspiring novelist and avid dabbler in various visual and fiber arts, especially embroidery, beaded embroidery, oil painting, and her new-found love--art quilting. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her boyfriend, her cat, and various incarnations of her muse. For more information or to contact Kim, you can use the
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