13 Reasons Why A Writer Writes ~ Or What Happens at 1:30 a.m.
I could not stop her last night. She whined and pouted. She even tried flattery. She was ceaseless in her persistence. “Get up” she said, “Get up and write.” So, I did. At 01:30 it is dark outside. It is dark inside. At 01:30 eyes need longer to adjust to the artificial light of the low watt CFL housed in the lamp on my nightstand. At 01:30, when your muse says write, there is nothing you can do but write. I know, I’ve tried all manner of diversions to get my muse to close her eyes and sleep. I’ve tried late night movies and raids on the refrigerator. I’ve tried walks, but usually that results in a neighbor getting suspicious of why you are up walking in your pajamas(clearly visible over the waistband of your jeans) and slippers that scuff and scrape on the stair. I’ve tried sleep aids and melatonin. Useless if the muse in your room is singing at the top of her lungs.
Why do Writer’s Write? I have read many essays on this subject. You can Google it and find a myriad of answers. This list is not conclusive as I am sure there are other writers who can come up with a least six more reasons. So let us just say that the reasons are infinite. Here is a sample of some of the reasons given:
- to explain something
- to make a point
- to tell a story
- to report what happened
- to communicate
- to make someone else think about a problem or mystery
- to make someone else scared
- to invent a world and characters to go in it
- to imagine what they would do in a situation
- to share information with others
- to entertain
- to delight
In reviewing that list, I don’t see the reason that fits why I write. Let me add my own items:
- to appease my muse
- because I must
Don’t get me wrong! I want to write. I love to write. I love my muse and her persistent droning in my head. She is as much a part of me as nerve endings.
The longing for a muse began when I was very young, and very naive. I want to write, I exclaimed with all the syllables my seven year old missing tooth mouth could form. I want to be Beatrix Potter (it came out be-a-trithsh pother) I told my dad. The next year, I wanted to be Lewis Carroll, then as the years came and went, I found new voices to tempt me. All the while thinking I needed a muse to steer me in the right direction. When we did meet for the first time (as I recall it), the words poured from my fingertips like a broken water main. Non-stop for days. I was so happy. I was writing. It became a compulsion. I would write about school, school kids, school yards, teachers, substitute teachers, neighbors, neighbors dogs, stray cats, a car accident, a door-to-door salesman (Oh, I just dated myself didn’t I?). It was many years later that I realized the vixen had been with me since the beginning. It was her urging that sent me into new sections of the library to discover new-to-me authors. It was her ceaseless melody that had me saving my babysitting money for empty notebooks, pee-che folders, and Bic pens; pens because the ink flowed over the paper at a faster rate than did a number two pencil, and the plastic cap was more durable under gnawing teeth.
As I continued through my education years, my writing took on a dark period. I believe every teenage soul goes through this period. Whether you are the popular kid, or not; whether you go to the prom or not, this period exists. Call it raging hormones, call it what you will, but for those of us who tap into it, it can be profoundly dark and disturbing. The good thing for me was that I learned a great deal at that time, and I discovered something priceless and enduring. I discovered poetry. Edgy, full of grit poetry. It was cathartic. It got me through high school, even managed to land a couple of kudos from the Creative Writing teacher and the rest of the English Department staff when my own poetry became as a soul laid bare. My muse was in her element. In college, my writing turned technical, analytical, cold, calculating, and terse. Seemed like a good path for my muse ~ Technical Writing. There was only one thing wrong with that path…people. As a technical writer, you generally have to interview people. You don’t interview machines, or food, or empty laboratories. Nope, you interview people. Now, just how was an introverted, self-doubting nerdlette supposed to interact with people?
My muse came to my rescue. She gave me little self recriminating jokes, to use to get the people to see me as just a human typewriter. It worked, and for that I told my muse I would always listen to her. Yep, you can see where I’m going with this. My muse never let me forget that promise.
Nowadays, my writing is done on a laptop. Quick working fingers over back lit keys; tap tapping away at pages and pages of words and ideas, to be sifted through and gleaned later for the right stuff. Words that say something, or mean something to me. Self-absorbed isn’t it? Indeed.
So, at 01:30 when my muse says “Get up and write.” I get up and write. Sometimes I can placate her with a short poem, or a paragraph or two for some story I am in the process of writing. Sometimes…she demands blood. It is then that I sigh, get up and fetch a chunk of bread, and a large glass of water, then prop the pillows behind my back and open my laptop. I know what is in store for me ~ a long, albeit productive, night of writing. Long into the morning, until I can no longer keep my eyes from burning and my muse is beginning to yawn. As I write this I have been up since 0900 yesterday morning, approaching thirty hours. No sleep as yet, but in the corner of the room, over by the bookcase, my muse has her arm on the top shelf and her head on her arm. If I stop and listen, her once loud siren song is now a soft comfortable hum.
I do love my muse. As most writers will tell you, it is when their muse takes a vacation that they are desperate for them to return. They are the drug of our addiction. Why do Writer’s Write? For me, it is because I must. It is the air in my lungs, the blood in my veins, and the sweet soulful beat of my heart. Not to mention that continual hum of my muse.