I am a fiction writer. I live in Los Angeles.

I once was asked, 'Why LA? Don't all fiction writers want to live in New York?'

Presumably because of the publishing industry?

I can't live in New York. I must live in a place that inspires me.

Los Angeles is that place.

It's not the ends of the earth or the land of disappointment. It's neither Hell nor Paradise nor a smog-filled cesspool of platinum blonde airheads. No, it's all of these at once, and more, and this is what makes it poetic.

Los Angeles is a polluted city full of beautiful and desperate people. It's an overpopulated desert. It's content in its contradiction; it is in cultural excess of everything. It's clusters of palm trees against a backdrop of skyscrapers. It's a gigantic green and concrete coffee shop. It boasts the richest people in the country, and the most poor. It's a glittering beacon of beauty laced with deadly poison.

When I stand on a sidewalk corner, I can look around and see stories everywhere, jumping out, overflowing. It's a city of everything, and everyone has their own tale - of success, of failure, of compromise. Look at the old lady wearing a handkerchief and pushing a shopping cart, dancing in circles around the rest of the world. Look at the blonde mother on the freeway consoling her Hispanic son. Look at the dreadlocked drummers underneath purple flowers that line the surface streets, alternating with palms, dotting the buildings with color. Look at the mohawked boy shuffling into Amoeba Music with no one else on his arm. Look at the swimmers, at the showers of tourists, walking the boardwalk and screaming to the beat of the rollercoaster on the Santa Monica Pier.

Is everything here perfect? Of course not. Perfection does not make art. Reflection does. And I use everything as a mirror: the palms, the concrete, the coffee shops, the movie stars, the sun, the smog, the freeway. The police sirens after dark and going to sleep to the hum of helicopters. The neon from my window, and the fact that you can drive for miles and not see a single building over four stories, then suddenly a high rise will appear out of nowhere and dominate the landscape.

Like this city, fiction is a mix of the beautiful and the ugly, the profane and the sacred, the stars and the slums. Like this city, it seems to know that moments are wasted on rushing. Like this city, it sees art in every single day.

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