It takes a lot of courage.
When my son was in his first year of preschool and my daughter still small enough to be lugged around in the detachable part of her car seat, I liked to spend our three-hours of allotted nap-time sitting at Bru, a neighborhood coffee shop on the corner of Franklin and Vermont in the east LA neighborhood of Los Feliz.
Years earlier, my husband and I had purchased our first home just a few blocks away, and even before our children were born, I spent a significant amount of time at Bru drinking coffee and working on a novel that I eventually finished, failed to get published, and ultimately shoved in a drawer.
After that, I took a break from writing so I could focus more on being really anxious — a past-time before, during, and directly following childbirth that had felt as important, time-consuming, and miserable as a full-time job.
Motherhood, like writing, demanded an enormous amount of courage. I came to each with the sense that I was meant for it, but also with a fear of failure so crippling that not putting myself out — whether for playdates or rewrites — seemed safer than taking risks.
Still, after my daughter was born and I’d already survived two years of constant worry, I realized I was ready to channel all of that blighted energy back into something creative.
Dropping my son off at preschool, driving back home, and then walking with my daughter to the coffee shop was often the closest thing to a psychological exhale that I could manage and the thought of having a few precious hours to write each day filled me with hope.
Once we arrived at the cafe, I ordered my coffee, claimed a table, and fussed over my daughter until she was asleep and safely stashed beside me or at my feet, and then I’d scan the room and conduct an inventory of everyone there. I loved checking the regulars and taking stock of the new faces; other writers, business interviews, brainstormers, even the occasional first dates that teetered on the patio or at the other small tables surrounding me.
When I finished categorizing everyone, I’d open my computer and then, while it was booting up, look at the art on the walls of the cafe. This is where I usually ended up getting stuck.