Three years ago today, I set foot in the French Quarter of New Orleans for the first time. Walking along Bourbon Street, I felt a sense of belonging I have rarely felt anywhere else, and my life became richer, fuller, and more creative because of it.

If I had a wealthy mentor, like during the Renaissance when artists had benefactors, I would live where I could walk along the Mississippi River every morning, sit on a bench at noon in Jackson Square to watch the psychics at work, and spend my nights dancing to the pulse of the edgy life in the Quarter. And in between, I’d be very busy writing my little heart out.

At least that’s the theory. If I could only hang onto that magical feeling as I sit here and write in my little home office in the Pacific Northwest. If I could only tap that sense of aliveness— Well then, without a doubt, the Pulitzer would be mine!

My friend Aysha lived in the French Quarter the last five years of her life, and she often said she felt belonged there, and never wanted to leave. I never wanted to leave either, and returned the following year to discover the magic all over again.

But today I sit and stare at the feathered Mardi Gras masks on my wall and wonder how to recapture that feeling of creative awakening. I really do want to start writing the next great American novel, but I’m afraid my muse has abandoned me to go dancing at the Funky Pirate.

Maybe if I put on some funky music, slip on a few strands of funky carnival beads, and fill my funky “Hand Grenade” drinking glass with Diet Pepsi, I can convince my funky butt to get serious about getting to work.

But I’m pretty sure being in The Big Easy would make it a lot easier.