OR How the muse woke me at 4:30 and now I can’t get back to sleep
Besides the physical act of writing and submitting, is there actually a “writing life” to be spoken of? Apparently so as it is a well worn phrase, one of those kinds of cliches the writing books tell you to avoid, but does it mean anything? I’m sure there’s one (or more) of those annoying “10 things only a _______ would understand” articles about writers – hell, scratch that, there must be dozens, writers do love to write about writing after all. (See: this article). So scratch that, it’s not worth a Google search.
So is there a writer’s life? I’m writing this at 4:32 a.m. after waking up due to the large amount of sleepytime tea I drank before going to bed and once having done so I realized I had a new story in my head that needed to be put on paper. This act of creation can be almost sensual at times, feeling submissive to whatever and wherever the hell these ideas come from and force their way through your arm and onto the paper.
There’s no use trying to sleep, time to put the kettle on.
So is that the writer’s life? I dunno, it is for me I suppose. And maybe that’s it, maybe that’s all it is. But nearly all professions (all?) require a written component – so why are they different? Words don’t keep them up at night – or if they do it’s not the words themselves but the meaning behind them. No so for the writer, agonizing over the word itself and the need to have the right words in the right order, to paraphrase Joyce. (At least I believe that was Joyce, correct me if I’m wrong).
And so I sat this morning on my bed with a large bowl of oatmeal, a cup of green tea, my cat on my lap, listening to an overly melodramatic radio program from 1937, (thanks Archive.org), the only light that of the streetlight coming through the cracks of the closed venetian blinds, reflecting off the piles of newly fallen, crisp white snow.
And sitting here, wondering if this would be the last time I’d ever do this, or if it was foreshadowing of who knows what, of how it fits into my own story arc. Self-absorption? Narcissism? Perhaps. Certainly a part of it is to be sure. But it is the ability to stand back and see my story not as my own, but as influenced by everyone that has ever existed and every event that has ever taken place. A humbling thought to be sure but also a magical one – not the magic of invisible gods or mystical powers – but the magic of wonder that often dies during the interim of childhood and adulthood, but by no means is necessary to shed in order to grow up. It is this wonder that keeps me writing stories and waking up every day. The wonder of knowing that today’s routine will soon be the thing of nostalgia and story fodder.
And while the radio show has ended and my bowl is empty, they’ve changed everything that will come after.
More importantly, though, I’m out of tea. Time to put the kettle on.