New York vs. Portland


What’s better for the creative person, the artist, the writer, etc. To live in a big city or to live and work out in the boonies?

I just got back from New York last night and I am happy to be in sleepy, boring little Portland, which feels so provincial after being in the big apple. This is the place that I can get the most writing done. Precisely because it is a sleepy place with way less happening compared to New York, S.F. , L.A. etc.

That said taking this book tour reminded me how inspiring travel can be: you meet new people, new ideas, new perspectives, different takes on everything. It is wonderful for creativity and insight and knowledge, not just about the world but yourself. Someone once said that every journey to a new place is a journey into yourself. Or if they haven’t said that yet they should have. Travel let’s you make a mixture of different cities into your own personal reality.

I thought about this dilemma a lot while on the road. Cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco can be so inspiring, you can see a lot of great art, and shows, and meet people  you wouldn’t get the chance to talk to otherwise. Meanwhile, living in a smaller city like I do— really gives me the chance to work on what I want to work on: writing. There aren’t as many distractions, and it is easy to find some peace and solitude which I think is helpful for writing, and most creative endeavors.

The downside can be finding people who inspire you. I was talking to a painter in New York who was saying that when he goes back to the small Canadian town he is from he finds it very uninspiring. Because he is running around trying to get a lot of art work down, and watching movies and documentaries on Netflix to get inspired, and painting and painting, and his friends back home think that’s weird. They are like “Dude chill out, let’s just drink a beer and smoke some pot.”

Artist Jason Mclean in his studio

Artist Jason Mclean in his studio

A NY musician friend told me “In New York everybody is busting their ass the whole time. You just get used to it. And sometimes getting your ass kicked by life a little bit is good for you.”

Me & my musician friend Mr. Heartache

Me & my musician friend Mr. Heartache

I agree with him.

But perhaps the best of both worlds might be to live somewhere that gives you enough space and peace to focus, but then to teach yourself how to “bust your ass” anyhow.

So now that my book tour is wrapping up, It’s time for me to start hustling on the next book. Tune in here from time to time for updates, insight about creativity and tips about the writing life.

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