That's pretty much my take on it. Any great pieces I know were either written while the composer was broke, lonely, dying, or all three. Same with me - I've written my best pieces while enroute to/from a gig, while trying to impress someone, and/or while trying hard to ignore the person sitting next to me on the subway.
Presently, we're in Big Sur, California - an incredible place I could have never imagined or Star Trek could've prepared me for -- but I can't write any music here. The ocean is too quiet, there are barely any people, the food is mediocre and overpriced, and our room is pretty vanilla. A car zooms past our motel every 20-30 minutes...
The locals in the restaurant are pleasant and thuggish at once. They act as though they've been recently let out of jail (i.e. the real world), and are adjusting to their new lease on life -- and seeing as they portray themselves as very "granola" but charge $5 for a gallon of gas (or $20 for a pasta) -- seems like their sentence could be extended.
Listening to the quiet of the ocean and the whisper of rock-n-roll coming from the restaurant's radio, I try to conceive my next composition - either a set of cues for an upcoming film, or sketches for a virtuostic piece for an incredible soloist-friend... I hear flutes, melodies, boring soft-core things which go well on an easy-listening album. I try to avoid those cliches, but nothing else comes, only this "positive energy" feeling. I try to concentrate on the locals, the prices, even recollect scenes from New York, but that feels wrong, as if I'm trying to pin a thumb-tack into a concrete wall. Hence, I'm blogging.
Sitting in Paradise, I can finally appreciate New York for what it is - it's got a lot to say, and most of it is hard to chew. But anything is better than an easy-listening medley of "songs you know and love".
Lately, I feel like a composer with a big agenda - lots of ideas on how to change things. But to bring an agenda to Paradise is like bringing your own butter knife to a fancy French restaurant. They laugh - you cry. (And in the process, you pay the bill.) :)