By Shanna Lewis
My pen hovered above the blank page. The small table
in the corner of Candy's Cafe seemed the perfect place
to write. I took a sip of cappuccino, its sweet milky
heat flowed around my tongue. The aroma of roasted
coffee beans and almond biscotti wafted over the
clatter of dishes and the din of intellectual
After so many years of working at meaningless jobs I
had given it all up and moved to Westcliffe, a tiny
mountain town in Colorado, a place where a true artist
would live. Eager to fill the page with profound prose
I set the cup down and gripped my pen hard until the
barrel dented my finger.
Doubt flashed from my brain to my hand.
"What am I doing?" I whispered to myself, "I don't
drink cappuccino or hang out in trendy coffeehouses."
My creativity paralyzed; I glanced around to see if
anyone had heard me but they were all too self
absorbed to notice my small revelation.
A voice in my head said, "that means you aren't a real
writer. Real writers live on coffee, cigarettes and
German Chocolate cake. You, on the other hand, live a
bland life filled with non-fat yogurt, organic tofu
and rice cakes. How can you expect to write anything
I had to defend myself, "but I do like ethnic foods,
read a lot and meet all kinds of interesting people. I
think I have some good ideas."
I took a slug of cappuccino to drive the point home.
The Voice snorted and said, "you may think you have a
lot of good ideas but what have you done with them?
You talk a good line but how much writing have you
really accomplished? Where are the publishing
This stopped me. My hand shook; I put the pen down and
took a deep breath. Maybe the Voice was right. Why did
I think I had anything of value to say? Most of what I
had written so far seemed like sophomoric,
clichE-ridden drivel. I wanted to be a writer. Who was
"Yeah, you aren't willing to do what it takes," the
Voice continued its diatribe. "Real writers slit their
wrists and bleed onto the page. You're too chicken to
I started to protest but realized I was beaten. I put
my pad and pen into my bag and got up to leave.
"Too afraid to even finish a cup of cappuccino," the
Voice taunted. "Why don't you go do a little yoga,
it'll make you feel better."
I looked around the coffeehouse. Heather, the
red-headed young barista served up lattes, people
talked on cell phones, students read books, and other
folks went about their business. Not one paid any
attention to my personal drama.
The cup of cappuccino still steamed on the table.
My heart beat hard against my ribs. I wanted to let
that rhythm spill onto the page and make words dance
to it, share my ideas and dreams, let my voice sing
the song of life as I heard it. It wouldn't be easy; I
would have to find places in myself that had been
hidden so long that I'd forgotten about them. I didn't
have to slash my wrists but I did have to expose my
"I paid for that cappuccino," I said aloud. "I'm going
to drink it."