My life runs inandoutandinandout of The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans, then back in.  (It’s a first novel, so what do you expect?)

It started more years ago than I care to admit, as a daily journaling exercise (God bless Julia Cameron and her Artist’s Way “morning pages”), starting with the first line:  Sitting in CC’s all by myself, as long as you don’t count the other people, sipping a double cap I don’t want ever to end and committed to getting started on this book (okay, guidebook) with no further ado.

(Okay, since then, that might have been tweaked.)

Anyway, I was sitting in CC’s (Royal and St. Philip) and it was a great double cap.  And, what do you know, I was finally writing!  And by August 26, 2005, I was about 100 pages in.

Then this hurricane came along, and everything changed.

I was one of the lucky ones, sitting in the safety of my Mom’s condo in Paducah, KY, with my partner Csaba Lukacs and our 5 cats and 2 dogs.  But what of New Orleans?  A—if not the—central character in my book?  What’s more, with so many terrible things going on, did the book even matter anymore?

Late October 2005.  I’m back in NOLA and yes, writing.  And like so many others, not knowing what this new New Orleans would be.  A semi-wasteland that never quite fully recovered?  A glittering landscape of soulless Trump towers?  But…writing, as the food truck megaphones blared Hot Meals from the corner.  Writing, as the National Guard trucks clattered past.  Writing, because it’s what I felt I could best do to best honor and preserve.  Writing because, yes, I needed and wanted to.

Now, at age 50, here I am.  At Maple Street Book Shop in New Orleans—and so honored to be.  With this humble first novel, this life dream come true, this song to people and places and things that must never be forgotten or lost, like dreams that have been sleeping for far too long and which open their eyes the instant you close yours.

David Lummis is the author of The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans. He will be reading and signing his book at Maple Street on Thursday, September 16, 2010, 5:30 P.M.