Of course. It is what Nike’s ad genius once said. “Just Do It.” I was recently in France and I was able to walk miles – in museums, along the Seine, into churches and past street booksellers. Yes, the book is still art in France and these booksellers each keep a box that they lock up every night on top of the wall overlooking the Seine. Magically, they open during the day and you can find everything from a French magazine from the 30’s to a poster of the Beatles in 1966, to a Balzac tome that looks sufficiently worn to perhaps be authentic. And then, for those non book-believing tourists, there are still sparkly tiny Eiffel towers turned into key chains or locks with little keys to add your love story to the bridge of locks.
For me, walking through Paris was like walking into a candy store of creativity.
And you might think that after spending hours gazing upon the greatest works of the greatest artists and walking into the Deux Maggots and sitting where Ernest Hemmingway sat, or touching Simone Bouvier’s picture or staring back at Picasso from his favorite spot, that one might be intimidated into believing that not everyone is worthy to call themselves an artist. But you would be missing the point. Writers, artists and engineers worked here – still work here, often against the grain of public opinion, some have money to support themselves independently, but many decided to put it all on the line. At the turn of the century, dancers and opera singers had to find wealthy patrons, they had to give of themselves to another who would help them do what they needed to do with all their heart. I may not like what Hemmingway puts on the page, I may prefer Fitzgerald, but I like them both because I know they collaborated with the rich, the poor, the good and the bad, they swam together, even as they created differently. And then there was Sylvia Beach, the daughter of a pastor, who so loved books and writers that she asked her father for the funds to start Shakespeare & Co., her book store that she developed to display her favorite authors and ultimately to use her influence to publish James Joyce when his books were banned in England and the United States. She got to be one of the boys, when it was a boys only club and they adored her.
So let’s say that once in a lifetime trip is still miles away from coming and you can’t walk through the streets of Paris to be filled with inspiration. What do you do then? You bring Montparnasse, Paris to your neighborhood, you bring the Algonquin Roundtable to your dining room table and you invite your friends over and drink tea or port or tea and port and talk about writing – how to do it and why you love it and you inspire each other to keep writing.
After, you have gone out into your city and found one thing you have never done before. Have you seen the Winchester Mystery House? No? Then go.
Look at the world as if it is the most interesting idea you have ever had.
Be filled with gratitude that you are right where you are. Then just start. No plan, no grand idea. Just start typing. Just practice, just play, “Just Do It.”