By Anika Logan
I have a very odd schedule; I admit it. In fact, my schedule is practically the opposite from most of the people I know. The majority of people I know work regular daytime hours (nine to five, eight to four—you get the general idea). I, on the other hand, do not. My schedule goes something like this: two weekday mornings I baby-sit two sweet little girls, two weekday mornings I professionally proofread (for local authors), four evenings a week I take the bus into the city and work at my part time job (as a library clerk) and every weekend I am also at the library. This leaves me with a couple hours in the afternoon to run errands and do chores (that sort of thing) and only one day off a week—Friday. Believe me, Friday has become my favorite day of the week because I can use that day to relax, enjoy myself and recharge my batteries. So then when do I have time to write?
When I was in college, studying and researching my butt off, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I did my optimum work and could concentrate the best in the evenings. Little has changed, only now I do my best work even later than evening hours—I work best during the dark, silences of the night time. Not the wee hours of the morning, oh no! Certainly I need my sleep, as does everybody, and I admit I love slipping between my covers for a long, restful night’s sleep. It is the quiet in my neighborhood that draws me in and fuels my creativity.
I return home from work around ten thirty, and after a little down time unwinding from my work day, I settle in to write, re-write and generally let my mind (and my pen) take me wherever I want it to go. I take the old fashioned route towards writing, I suppose. I always (well, almost always) write my work out on paper first, my left hand feverishly moving across the page.
I change this, move this, add in little arrows and stars, insert things, and put lines through things I don’t like. I really believe this is the way to go. Also, I suppose I should admit (shamefully!) that I’m a writer who doesn’t particularly enjoy typing. Perhaps it is because I taught myself to do it out of necessity. I never learned to type the proper way; you know the way professional secretaries’ do—those amazing individuals who can type incredibly fast, their eyes not so much as needing even once to steal a glance at the keyboard. I am not one of those people. Yes, I have to admit that typing on a computer is much easier (and looks more visually appealing in my opinion) than typing on a typewriter but I still don’t enjoy it all that much. I’d rather spend my time creating new pieces of work and leave the typing to someone more capable than I. Maybe someday I will be able to afford to hire my own secretary but until then my laptop and I remain joined at the hip.
I think I’ve gone off on a tangent, back to the topic at hand—the nighttime writing thing of mine. There is something about the rest of the world around me sleeping that makes me feel very much awake and alive. My senses are attuned to every sound, every movement that is beyond my walls. Sometimes I look for inspiration out my windows as I peer into the black of night and at other times it is just there, stream of consciousness takes over and voilà—I am on my way!
One night last week I was up to two am because I had a story that started to take shape and just wouldn’t let go. I find some pieces are like that. The closest thing I can compare to it is a book that is so good that you can’t put it down, you go from chapter to chapter and page to page, everything around you recedes—only the book and its contents have relevance. You know you should go to bed because it’s getting late and you have to get up early in the morning but you have to read more, and more, and more! It won’t let you put it down. Some of my writing (most of the time, fiction pieces) is like that and I love it! Seriously, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is not to say that I can’t write at any other time of the day. I write whenever I have a free minute. I carry pen and paper with me always. My home is filled with pads of paper everywhere. After all, who knows what I might be doing when an idea comes to me? Better to be prepared than to have to store up all those ideas in point form in my brain until I can get to some paper. I have pulled my car over to the side of the road to write something down that struck me while driving; interrupted dates to run to the ladies room to scribble down something on a notepad that I took from my purse; and even jotted notes while sitting on the bus, lunching with friends or standing in line to buy movie tickets or groceries, whatever the case may be. What can I say? Writers write, that’s what we do—whenever and however. We always manage to find a way.
There have been many occasions where I’ve woken myself up at night to write some earth shattering idea down (at least at the time it seems earth-shattering to me!). And yes, true to form I do have a pad of paper ready for me when I wake with a start in the night. Inspiration does seem to hit me at the weirdest times indeed! It drives me crazy at times. It’s like a psychic who has a vision when he/she least expects or wants it. These intrusions in my life, these bursts of “aha” are moments I truly am thankful for. I really wonder what my life would be like without them.
I am a nighttime writer and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Perhaps when I marry and have children my husband will have something to say about that (hmmm) but until then I will continue to be a writer who enjoys the solitude and silence of the ending to a day.
© 2002 Anika Logan
Anika Logan holds a degree in psychology and sociology as well as a diploma in Fitness and Nutrition. She divides her time between her part time jobs and her greatest love—her writing. A number of her short stories and poems have been published on the Internet. Her work has appeared at Widethinker, The Sidewalk’s End E-Zine, Killer Flamingo, and most recently the website Seedfusion. Three of her short stories will be coming out in anthologies later in the year. Anika resides in Eastern Canada where she is at work on her next project.