3 AM and writing

by admin


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Working myself up to a frenzy writing many, many Seanachai episodes.

It’s 3 AM and I’m writing
I am so pregnant with ideas that I can no longer sleep through the night. This is awkward, painful and — given that I have no womb — kind of disgusting. Its also very, very good. Vampire in my Attic was written at 3am.
It takes a particular kind of courage (or lunacy) to get up at 3 am. While most sleep in their beds — wrapped in the cloak of safety and the ultra-high calorie diet that only Americans know — I slip from my bed, unsheath a metal pen a rotring 900 fountain point pen with which I do simply awful things to paper. Slash it until it’s blood runs black)
It’s not every night this happens. Only a few. And I’d like to say that every night that I get up, I manage to capture a wonderful idea — but the fact is, only a few of them are good. But here’s the thing, and it’s really the only thing, I can’t know which night is going to be THE night. The night in which I capture a turn of phrase who’s gossmer wings could never withstand the hot winds of a busy day.
But in the middle of the night, a moth may well be drawn to my gleaming white sheet. It may even land on it. And if I’m skillful enough — If I draw a net of black lines around it before it thinks to fly away, and without destroying it [SFX scribbling] Then I can capture some of the magic. That magic buried in the debris of modern ideas. Or the magic that we overlook in our mad rush from one mute, unimaginative task to another.
The ancient greeks had a way of describing this mad 3 o’clock in the morning behavior. They would speak of the muse descending upon a person. Or one’s genius taking over. And the word in Greek is a little disturbing to me. Daimon. Overtone of possession there. An idea seizing a person. I don’t believe that this happens — I understand that it happens. Sometimes it inconvenient sometimes frightening, but it a state much to be desired.
It’s not like this has to happen at 3 am — muses are far too fickle to keep office hours — but in the dead of the night — when courage flags and the hope of mortals is at it’s ebb tide — a person still struggling with words and ideas must shine forth to the muses like a beacon.
The idea that greatness comes easily to some is a myth. The only prescription for success or excellence or greatness that I am aware of, is to chase greatness down, trip it and stomp on it’s guts until it begs for mercy.
And it’s not just for writing. And it’s not just for me. It’s for you and everybody else. So the next time you wake up full in the middle of the night
Take a moment to plan it. To write it down. To sketch it out or up. Even if it’s just one note on a 3×5 card — make it.
Because when you awake in the morning — when you find the talisman you wrested from the night, it will remind you that the limitations of the day are not the limits of life. Place this talisman on the altar of the muses — show them how bad you want it– and they will love you more.