I don’t know about other writers, but I’m a perpetual night owl. I like the idea of mornings — the idea of getting up and sitting next to the window as the sun rises with a hot cup of coffee in one hand and a pen in the other. I just can’t seem to make that idealization a reality.
Two nights ago, I vowed that I would go to sleep “early,” especially since I had class the next day. Early (for me) turned out to be 2 AM, and I was all set for a good night’s sleep. However, while on my way to the kitchen for a glass of water, I happened to glance out the window. Big mistake. Gone was the dark, shadowless night. Gone were the remnants of the spring day. And gone was my desire to go to bed. A fresh layer of snow (a lot of snow, given that there hadn’t been a drop of it left for weeks) covered the ground, the cars. It settled upon the branches of the distant trees and glistened bronze in the streetlight. Before I could stop the poetry from forming, a stream of words — usually flowing subconsciously somewhere in the back of my mind — sprang forth into form and shape, syntax and diction. Bedtime would have to wait.
I grabbed my notebook and sat next to the window, and I wrote until the words stopped writing themselves onto the page. That wasn’t until 4 AM.
It was then that I realized that I am a morning person. Just not the sunrise, early bird kind. I’m a morning-night person. While the rest of the world is sleeping, I come alive. Beyond my window, the morning-night is a time of subtle, quiet colors and muted city life. Everything stands so still, especially in wintry months. For my process to work, I have to wait for the analytical, constant questioning part of my brain to fall silent. When this happens, something within me gives way to poetic thoughts, to my quieter, more abstract musings.
When spring arrives, I lament the melting snow. The loss of blurred, white lines against the horizon. I mourn the disappearance of the crisp syntactic air filled with wood smoke, the crunch of my boots against ice, and that specific biting way the wind strikes me awake. But, more than anything, I miss the shades of darkness: the ever-shifting layers of shadow — yellow and red and gray-blue — coming and going with the in and out of day. Many people despair over eighteen hours of darkness. The darkness that arrives suddenly in the heart of winter and seems to blend everything together. But I have always walked in the darkness, in my nighttime mental passages. It’s where I’ve always felt most at home, free and invisible. When my muse finally exhales all the words that I carry within me.
So I’ve learned over time that, yes, perhaps the early bird does catch the worm, but the morning-night owl takes flight among the stars.
What time of day do you come alive? When do you prefer to write? When does your muse seem most active? Let me know in the comments!