Saturday afternoon I sat with Thomas Goodwin the painter, and Julius Jortner, the poet. Thomas’s art is dynamic, full of movement, mystery and intrigue. Julius’s poetry is full of longing, celebration, loss and emotional resonance.

Thomas hosts regular artist conversations and gatherings in his studio in Cloverdale, which is soon to be a Turkish rug shop, and I’ve found myself there on a couple of occasions. His couches overlook the river, and he plies with good company, pressing coffee or drinks into hands and asking deep questions about craft and meaning to get the conversation ball rolling.

We chatted easily about the why of character and motivations, then shifted into talk about the Muses and inspiration.

“I don’t own the paintings,” he said with an easy smile. “They just come through me.” He went on to say that there are painting out there, in the ether as it were, just looking for an artist.

I resonated. We talked about how I don’t really feel like I own anything once it leaves my desk. I got to have the experience of creating it, but once it leaves my hands it has a life of its own. As I writer, I was just the layover for that piece of work to stop, materialize and then move onward. Just passing through on its way to wherever it was headed. It does change me in the experience, though. It’s satisfying.

We spoke about compromise, the gigs we take to get paid. We spoke about the translucent, ephemeral feelings of creation. The vulnerability of being open to receiving inspiration.

Julius spoke about the stages of poetry and the amalgamation of learning, perspective and finding meaning in the aging process to connect with his work. His words chosen carefully, deliberately.

We passed around pretzels and spoke about the misconceptions of the publishing world, what publishers are saying to artists and audience about gender disparity and why it’s dangerous to authors and readers. I told them how I’d turned down publishing contracts and representation contracts because I refused to re-write my book from a male point of view, or take a gender-neutral pen name. Publisher’s claims being, “Men won’t read books written by women.”

They were surprised the publishing world has made these claims, and I was surprised they were surprised. We agreed the paradigm needs to shift somehow.

We moved to conversations about female voices. The topic of erotica came up. I told them about my other author name, and collection of erotica works.

“How do you define erotica?” Tom asked.

“For mer personally, everything can be erotic. Sensory experience, tension, release. It can be a great night of sex, or just a conversation with a stranger. It can be a really good mango, or an emotional experience.”

Tom said, “I think it has a lot to do with vulnerability.”

“For sure!” I agreed.

We talked about the vulnerability of erotica, and I realized vulnerability and release are interwind in the erotica concept for me…but also into the creation process.

Rounding full circle to the creative process; vulnerable, full of tension and release, expressive, emotional, and if it’s done right…satisfying.

The Nestucca River shimmered outside the window and I was grateful to have the company of artists, to speak the language, and be near the hearts of creatives for the afternoon. It was a much needed confirmation.