Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic and author of The Beautiful Struggle.
"I was 24 when my son was born. People always say that kids get in the way, right? But actually it had the opposite effect on me. I feel like I could have spent my twenties doing all sorts of self-destructive things--that was my natural inclination--but having a kid suddenly makes that not OK ... The stakes of everything just went up. I think I'm the type of person where, for any reason, I only respond to pressure. That kid just so raised the pressure, for everything ... So I started writing for the Washington Monthly, and the Monthly pays shit, everybody knows that, right? They were paying ten cents a word at this point. But because they have these big-shots writing for them, nobody ever calls for the check! But I would say, 'no, I need you to send me that check. Yeah, I know it's only $150, but I actually need that check, you really need to send that check.'"