Linda Solomon Wood is an innovator, entrepreneur, and award-winning journalist.
As CEO of Observer Media Group and founder and editor-in-chief of the National Observer, she works to strengthen public service journalism that investigates corruption, celebrates innovation, and illuminates and helps to make sense of the complex political and social challenges people face today. She previously founded Vancouver Observer and has led both publications to win Canada’s top awards for public service, investigative journalism and excellence in reporting. She sits on the Board of Governors of the National Newspaper Awards, representing digital media and Western Canada. She has participated in the Public Policy Forum’s roundtables on the state of journalism. She started her career as an investigative reporter at The Tennessean in Nashville, where she won the United Press International awards for Best Public Service Reporting and Best Investigative Reporting. She later freelanced for publications including The Los Angeles Times, Orion, and the International Herald Tribune. She studied journalism and American Culture at Northwestern University and received her MFA in literary nonfiction from Vermont College. Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, she’s lived and worked in Paris, New York City and now, Vancouver, where she enjoys Canada’s West Coast with her husband, two sons and two stepdaughters. She immigrated to Canada shortly after 9/11 and became a Canadian citizen in 2012.Q&A
How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career?
From nothing comes something. That’s creation. The process of making something from nothing (or something out of nothing) is creativity. I love collaborations. Creating together. Everybody has a unique gift. Together we make something. It is born, grows, and ultimately, exceeds me, and us. Then there is the letting go process, the realization that the creation has a life of its own.
Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?
I get my best ideas when moving: walking, cycling but especially running. However, I think my creative energy comes from quiet, even getting bored. Things arise in silence, reflection, repose. On the other hand, I get a lot of inspiration from engaging with my children and my step-children. They are infinitely inspiring.
What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Get behind yourself 100%!!!! Don’t let people’s reactions to you or what you think THEY think derail you. That’s the most important thing I wish I’d been able to fully absorb as a young person.
Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?
If I could hear anyone speak at creative mornings it would probably be AOC or Nancy Pelosi. I guess that’s my American side coming out.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
My mother has been the biggest influence. She’s a photographer and she has lived like a nun in the temple of photography. I watched her struggle a lot with self-doubt, insecurity, fear of success, while creating an epic body of work. Now she’s collected in museums around the world and at 89 is publishing books, taking on commissions and winning awards. She told me last week: ‘Good things come to those who wait.’
What are you proudest of in your life?
My children. Second to them, National Observer.
If you could interview anyone living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?
I’d like to sit down and talk with Martin Luther King and ask him what it was like, was he afraid and what does the world look like to him now.
If you could do anything now, what would you do?
Spend a month in New York City going to a different musical or drama every night.
Where was the last place you travelled?
New York City.
What music are you listening to these days?
My tastes are eclectic.
What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?
Having two really wonderful sons VERY late in life, then divorcing and remarrying and getting two really wonderful stepdaughters even later in life.
Where is your favourite place to escape?
The upper trail at Lynn Canyon Headwaters Park.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
“Live on the edge.”
What books made a difference in your life and why?
Too many to count. Lately, Sapiens.
What practises, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work?
When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?
Take a walk..
If you had fifteen extra minutes each day, what would you do with them?
What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?
I was sitting on the edge of continent, in Point Reyes, California, watching the ocean, the birds, the waves against the shore, crashing, receding, rising up again, and I had my aha. Everything in life is transient. Everything is constantly changing. Transience underlies all forms of life.
What object would you put in a time capsule that best represents who you are today?
My iPhone. (Ouch.)
What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?
The movies and books that are running through our own heads; I mean, the narrative that is one’s own life.
Book I’ve been reading The Recovering: Intoxication and It’s Aftermath - A brilliant illuminating memoir that is also an examination of alcoholism and creativity and gender and destruction in literature by Leslie Jamison