The House of Coffee and Rainbows

When my husband and I travel, I like to plan and he likes to just go—no map in hand, no tour guide, no reviews or ratings needed. Opposites to the bitter end, we are. But we’ve figured out a way to compromise. In December of 2019, we visited Kauai with his parents to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. It was a glorious trip with just the right amount of planning and flying by our seat pants.

On the first full day, we set out in our rented Jeep and explored the Waimea Canyon. It was incredible. On the return trip, were Jeep jostled and tired as we passed the Kauai Coffee plantation. While it’s rather easy for me and my in-laws to stumble upon a margarita, my husband is more of a coffee connoisseur. So, to stumble upon this house of coffee, complete with a coffee plantation, was a gift at the end of an already wonderful day. The skies had just opened up with an afternoon rain shower, but we all agreed to the stop. Plus, they offered free samples, which pleased my husband immensely. And this was all by happenstance.

So, just like that we had this cool experience. Coffee for my husband, a gift shop for my mother-in-law, and a path around the plantation with signposts that taught about the coffee harvesting process for me and my father-in-law. Something for everyone. By the way, the double rainbow over this coffee hut was not photo shopped in, just an added bonus.

Writing is never like this for me! Well, hardly ever. Yes, I’ve become a planner, a plotter, an outliner, an analyzer, in my writing life, too. I have spreadsheets and edited outlines and character lists. And did I mention spreadsheets?! But on those rare occasions when the creative process is easy and flows effortlessly, I am on a high. Answers pop open, solutions to knotty issues unravel, and the right words appear. I haven’t yet figured out the magic formula for how and when those writing days happen. Maybe it’s a matter of the gods looking down on my writing practice and zapping me with all the secrets needed for the day. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s a matter of being open to the answers when they arrive. Elizabeth Gilbert, a writer who has significantly influenced my perspective on inspiration in her book Big Magic describes it this way: “So you must keep trying…You must search tirelessly and faithfully, hoping against hope to someday experience that divine collision of creative communion—either for the first time, or one more time.”

Despite my discipline (writing 5:00-7:00 am each day, sometimes sneaking in a lunch hour), there are times when inspiration (a rainbow or two) arrives unannounced at inconvenient times: on a conference call, while I’m driving, on a walk, in the shower. The best is when I lay down on my bed, head sinking into the pillow, and as I drift off to sleep, an idea pops into my head or a character I had not previously understood suddenly makes sense. I jot down a few notes to remember my epiphany in the morning.

These moments are not plentiful, but they do happen. I’ve learned to listen, to pay attention. I’ve learned to switch gears or even switch writing projects if my brain begins to hum on another line of thought. I’ve learned that being open to inspiration and the creative moment, whenever it presents itself, is as important as spreadsheets.

Hemmingway once famously wrote “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” But he never spoke of the plan to string together all those true sentences. That takes time and a plan (and spreadsheets) but it also requires learning to be open to a few rainbows. And a lot of coffee!


  1. Love this! A great memory and a wonderful explanation of the creative process, about which I know nothing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.