A love affair

This Thursday, Two Hands Paperie is bringing you a night of books, a love of Paris, and yummy crepes to boot!

Writer, creativity coach, and Two Hands Paperie visual journaling teacher  Cynthia Morris will read from her brand new novel Chasing Sylvia Beach and talk a bit more on her creative process and reveal some behind the scenes secrets from her book. We were able to catch this very busy lady for a quick interview to stir up your creative curiosity!

Two Hands Paperie: It’s clear you have a love affair with Paris! What are some emotions that come to mind when you think about the City of Lights?

Cynthia Morris: Excitement, enthusiasm, fear. Paris is a real rush of intensity and beauty. Fear because it’s a major city with a lot going on. You have to be aware of what’s going on around you. It’s a bit like being in the middle of a giant pinball game! But Paris is the one city where the urban swirl doesn’t feel overwhelming. I think the intensity is countered by all the beauty.

THP: How is your creativity affected when you’re there? How does it change your mood? Your perspective? Do you feel like a completely different person, or perhaps a better version of yourself when you’re visiting?

Cynthia: Getting away from your routine anywhere will spark your creativity. Space is vital for idea generation and clarity.

But Paris for some reason just oozes creativity. I spend a lot of time walking in the city. The architecture, the people, the shop windows, I love it all. The city is a dynamic and eternal system. And you’re in the middle of it. Tasting it, smelling it, getting pinched and squeezed by it.

Paris is a very sensual city. When I’m there I seem to smell and taste and see more in a week than I do all year. There’s also this sense of “I’m in Paris, I’m going to live large” so you eat pastries every day and splurge. You let yourself enjoy yourself more.

It’s dense experience and I come home with lots of ideas for my work.

I’m the same person that’s always changing. Now, after 28 years since I first traveled to Paris, I find ways that Paris has changed me. I dress differently. I speak differently. I do enjoy speaking French, which is a bit like acting, taking on the French mannerisms and way of speaking.

In Paris I feel very porous, very sensitive to and appreciative of what’s around me. It’s not a perfect place but it is inspiring and full of beauty and wonder. I appreciate things in a way I wouldn’t if I hadn’t been doing this cultural study for so long.

THP: If you can’t get to Paris, how do you tap into that intoxicating mood and atmosphere? Where else can you find it?

I have one day a week where I release myself of obligation to do anything. I let myself do what I want. That’s the kind of freedom we get when we go to another place that we squeeze out when we get home. We book every minute of the week, not allowing for space. I make sure I have space for myself to flow and explore.

Other than that, I ride my bike around Denver. It’s fun, surprising, and slightly dangerous. Biking gets me in touch with my surroundings and gives me a physical release – all things I experience in Paris.

There are many ways we keep our inspiration alive, personal to us. But having a physical practice and space in your calendar for spontaneity and surprise will go a long way.

THP: Why does Sylvia Beach appeal to you so personally? She seems fearless. Do you identify with her tenacity?

Cynthia: For so long I dreamed of living in France and having a great life like Sylvia had. I love how she found her thing – a bookstore in Paris. When I was younger, I had no idea what I would do for a living. I romantically wanted to live in Paris and be at the heart of a creative community like Sylvia.

After twelve years writing the novel, now I identify with Sylvia’s tenacity. That’s one thing my character Lily learns: things take time. In our throw-away society, Sylvia’s tenacity showed Lily something about commitment despite difficulty.

THP: Why is Sylvia’s story so important? Why is Lily’s?

Cynthia: I’m an advocate for and mentor of women whose lives don’t follow traditional paths. Sylvia’s story provides a potent role model for women who want to dare something risky or unheard of. I’ve always been driven to write this book so I can share Sylvia’s world with more people.
Lily’s story is important because she’s like so many of us – lost and wondering how her life will work out. When she gets the chance to be close to her bookish heroine, she realizes that Sylvia’s not perfect. She also discovers that her lessons come from her own choices, not from others. I think this is powerful for us to know – we can only follow others’ examples so far. We have to carve our own path.

THP: Can you talk a bit about the process of writing this novel? What have you uncovered about yourself through writing and publishing it?

Cynthia: It took over twelve years and seventeen drafts to complete this book. I never thought it would be that long or that difficult. But I gained a sense of myself as a doggedly persistent person. Writing this novel coincided with building my coaching business and developing my yoga practice.
The three go together in many ways, but I see the way my commitment to all three show me that I am a persistent person. I am a person who finishes things even when they seem insurmountably difficult.

Is your curiosity sparked? Ours too! Come early for a chance at fabulous give-aways and a yummy crepe from Boulder-based Backyard Bistro before Cynthia dives into her book! No need to RSVP. Grab a friend and head down to 803 Pearl this Thursday. The event will run from 6:00-8:00.

For more information on Cynthia Morris, visit her website.

Interested in more events happening at Two Hands? Swing over to our website for a schedule of classes and free events!