Why we write at night

Why do we write at night?  Why not at dawn, or at lunch, or in the evening after supper?

Some of us write only when the sun is down, for this is the time when there are no more errands to run, no more children to feed or watch play, no more chores to do.  When we see dawn’s approach in the color of the sky, we panic, and under the covers we dive.

Some of us write in the early, early morn, rising before the sky is fully light to write before our families join us and the neighbors scurry off to breakfast and then work.  We write when it is but us and the birds and at most a senior citizen walking a dog.  We write in the untarnished light, the pure and soft and innocent sun, after a sound sleep and before the world rushes to our doorstep.

Some of us write on the bus to work, in the dead of rush hour, on our coffee breaks and lunch breaks, on the ride home.  We write in the spar moments between phone calls and bosses yelling, between hugs from our children and kisses from our spouse or girlfriend– or boyfriend, between changing out of work clothes and dinner at the table.  We write in the bare moments between dinner and the movie, movie and the board game, board game and scrubbing the night’s dirty dishes.  We write between loads of laundry, between sex and sleep, between sleep and the morning shower before we go, again, to work.

Some of us write in the daytime, when the kids are at school and we’re tired of the job hunt.  When it’s lonely and cold, or lonely and hot, the sun high in the sky and no one here but us chickens.  We write to escape that bleakness, that emptiness, that boredom-going-on-despair that comes from not knowing what else to do, and as we write, the hours slip away.  We write when the time is passing slow between 8am and 3:30, or between dusk and dawn when someone is sick and we can’t sleep for worrying about their fever or chill.  We write until the next thing happens, because time is too slow if we don’t.

Some of us write in the evenings after supper, when someone else takes the kids for a while and at last we are free to dream.  Perhaps our kids are young and already abed; perhaps they are old and already flying from the nest to be with their friends, or their own family.  Perhaps it is Sunday, and they’re all happy watching sports games while we move to a quiet room and pretend they don’t exist for a while.  Perhaps we are alone, and this is the quiet time when the neighbors are settling down and there’s no one playing outside.  This is when we write because we have to, because we have no choice but to write and write, to make others conform to our need lest we be driven insane.  This is when our lives, so hectic and full, will give us a break– if we force it to.

Some of us write at night, in silence between midnight and just after dawn, when it’s only us and the insomniacs and the early risers.  When all throughout the city, TVs are turned off, dogs and children are asleep, teenagers know to be quiet, and adults stop thinking.  We write at the only time of day when everyone else is quiet, so we can hear ourselves think.  When the burden is lessened, when there’s less to invade our minds and dump weight on our souls, less noise, less emotion, less direction from without.  We write at night when it’s the only time we can.

But no matter what the time of day, we always want to.

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