Thursday, July 8, 2010

After Midnight...Write.

I’ve been looking forward to this very moment all day long. Even though I’m not working this week I’m keeping my night shift hours and that means here, at midnight, I live in a world all my own. It’s too dark to do yardwork, though I suppose I could give it a try, and that would be some interesting reading. “How I managed to run over an armadillo with a push mower” by Mike Firesmith, no, I’ll pass on the mowing by moonlight. I could do housework but the same limitations apply. I would have to turn on every light in the house to do dusting or mopping, or maybe not. Maybe house cleaning in the dark is the way to go. Looks good to me, hmmm, now where did I put that flashlight?
The truck got an oil change today and for once it took about ten minutes. It frightens the hell out of me when I do anything mechanical quickly. That is usually a sign I’ve left the drain plug out, or forgotten to put the filter on, or didn’t put any oil back into the crankcase. There is almost no chance I could kill someone with a hammer. When someone asks for a screwdriver I usually tell them I have vodka but they will have to find their own orange juice. I get the left loose right tight thing confused. My inability to do even the most simple things mechanical is a source of amusement for those around me, and my DIY projects bode ill for those friends I know with skills. There are kindly souls on this earth and those friends I have that see me in the big chain hardware stores have been known to follow me home, just in case.

The heat of the day wears down the older dogs and even the Loki Mutt needs to recharge at some point in time. Lucas is getting to the point where he isn’t in motion all the time, even if he is full of energy 24/7. He’s nearly eighteen months old, so by this time next year I’ll have a fully mature dog. I will miss having a puppy terribly, because I always have. But a good rule of thumb is never get another puppy until you have repaired all the damage the last one did. Given my handy man skills, Lucas may be the last puppy I ever share time and space with. That is very facetious, yes, but I am totally serious when I say if Luke was the last puppy I ever loved, he would be a damn good one to look back on, and be happy with. He sleeps with his back to my chair, so if I get up he can follow me around like a…puppy.

No, the small hours of the night should be for writing. That is what they are there for, you know. I’m willing to bet every great piece of art ever written owes some essential part of its soul to these hours from midnight to dawn. Okay, I will also admit there have very likely been some things written after midnight better left untexted, but alcohol is responsible for that, not the late night Muse. She can only guide you to the keyboard or the pen, not away from the bottle. Google has this infernal math test I have to take before I can email anyone after midnight, and it is quite amusing how often I do not get it right…sober.

During my lunch hour at work I frantically pound out as much as I can and try to make sense of it when I get home. I once kept a legal pad with me during lunch and I would write free hand and streaming for an hour nonstop. I sent the pad to a writer friend of mine who wanted to see it and after she received it she agreed that I ought to go into business with the CIA writing code. When there is a deadline, like the end of the lunch hour, there is a certain quality of the writing that is missing in leisure writing. Frantic writing demands parsimony while leisure writing allows the luxury of thought. Writing in a hurry eschews the thesaurus for the gut instinct of a word while writing done less frantically makes looking for the perfect word part of the fun.

Here past midnight there is usually the ever creeping danger of sleep to ward off. Yet the night shifter in me can now look past midnight and even beyond. I can listen to the frogs, and the night birds, and the sound of nothing at all in the dark. Crowded into places with other people there is little but white noise, the static of small talk and the never ending drama of those without lives. Here, at my desk, with the puppy Lucas pinning the chair in one place, with Sam snoring softly to the sound of classical music, with Bert guarding the doors, and his food bowl, there are new worlds to discover, new thoughts to entertain, and old ones to work again. Here, in the very depths of the day, when one day’s beginning is just a half a shift away, the very best time for writing is upon the land, blind to it though most be.

The time we borrow to live, we borrow some of that to write, and that mirrors the genetic passing to one generation to the next. Not the most hardy, nor the most intelligent, nor the best survive, but only those who persevere at their craft will plant the seed of writing into the next generation. Late at night, lovers and writers, kindred spirits all, pour their passion out into the small hours, looking for heaven and ecstasy, if only for a few breaths of their lives. What will come of the sweat, of the passion, of the confused and worthy effort, no one can say. Lover and writers sleep soundly, their work done, in those tiny hours of the night.

Take Care,

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