The Magic of 3am (I refuse to call this jetlag)

3am and I’m wide awake, dancing through stories I haven’t yet written, flitting through worlds that only exist in my mind. I’ve been awake for hours now, laying in the dark as the clock ticks down to my real life. Soon the darkness of the sky will begin to ease, surrendering to the twittering of the birds harkening in another sunny day. It will be as though this feverish moment never happened. It’s existence will only be hinted at in my periodic yawns and wistful glances out of an office window. Oh to live in a world where I didn’t have to pretend to be happy pushing papers and making phone calls, or typing documents and squeezing one more fifteen minutes into an overly crowded schedule. If only passion could pay my rent. It would be an awfully grand adventure to not stare at the clock on nights like these knowing I will regret this moment in a few hours time.

There’s something about these early morning hours that is magical and surreal. It is as though the curtains between my real world and the ones I envision grow thin, as though the door to Narnia was left cracked open, leaving only the thinnest of lace between us. These are the sweetest of dreams, the ones where you are wide awake and uninhibited. These are the nights when I learn something new about characters I have never met, observe habits I didn’t know they had. I can push them, poke the, mold them, and for once allow them to mold themselves.

You’ll only ever catch a writer talking nonsense like that; as though these characters are true flesh and blood, and not something conjured out of thin air. Only other writers will understand this fine line between art and insanity. The best creations could often be confused with a break in mental stability, an avoidance of the status quo, and honest disregard for the norm. What people often forget when they read those beautiful words is that they were once a jumbled mess in someone’s mind. They were the midnight ravings of a lunatic until they climbed out through the inkwell of a pen and found the solace of a page. That final conjuring is the moment when most are able to finally see those syllables for what they truly are: beautiful.

Perhaps it is because I just left a land full of knights, kings and queens, intrigue, betrayal and love. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I have spent two weeks exploring castles and staring at the headstones of the writers who paved the way for lowly wordsmiths like myself. Perhaps it is simply because I was able to cut ties with my own reality for just a little while to inhabit a life completely different from my own. Regardless of the reason, I can’t keep my mind at bay tonight. It is not content contemplating the normal minutia of my daily world. It is far too busy building castles and filling them with false queens and bastard children. It is too quick to invent imaginary wars and brave damsels fighting fiercely to protect the things they love.

Tonight I will let the story carry me, I will memorize the freckles on my heroine’s face and the sly crooked smile that betrays her secret lovers true intentions. I won’t worry about the alarm clock ticking away beside me or dread the mountain of emails I will be culling through when 8am rolls around. Tonight is for the fairies, it is for the monsters protecting me from the mundane as they stand vigil under my bed. Tonight is for the magic that only happens at 3am, leaving you with wide open eyes that sparkle with the possibilities of other worlds.

A Writer: Socially Acceptable Version of Insanity

Every writer contains within their soul a world of stories desperately fighting for attention. Their desire is to drive their creator so mad with the very thought of them that the author will have no choice but to bleed the words onto page after page until the fevered passion dissipates. Every story clings to the hope that it will see the light of day and be sent off into the world to open minds and inspire the passions of other creative souls.

There is a stage amidst the roiling waves of the creative process where the passion of the story becomes all-consuming. You can call it inspiration, the work of the muse, or simply the art of the craft- your terminology doesn’t truly matter, all writers know this feverish stage. All creatives are dreamers by nature, it is written into our very existence, coded into our DNA. It is at the heart of who we are as people.

Lately I have found myself lost in the possibilities of another world, another person, another untold story. When this happens I can’t help but blindly and unequivocally obsess like a fifteen year old girl who has fallen for the guitar-strumming ‘misunderstood bad boy’ she sits next to in science class and who has only spoken the words ‘can I borrow a pen’ to her. There is no rhyme or reason to this newfound mania, no matter how many reasons she may be presented with on the subject. It simply exists and must run its course. My writing is no different than this obsessive compulsion.

The stories and characters take up nearly every ounce of useable brain space. I run through dialog as I wash my hair in the shower, finally giving an audible voice to see how the words taste- while maintaining the dignity of a private setting where no one can judge me speaking randomly into open air for no discernible reason. I have to turn off my audiobook as I commute to and from work because I can’t concentrate on the words of their story, given the preoccupation of my own. I politely decline lunch offers because ‘I’m trying to get a few things done on my break,’ without mentioning those ‘few things’ run heavy on the daydreaming with a slight peppering of frazzled note-taking I won’t be able to decipher later. I’m constantly having to put actual effort into concentrating on my tasks at work without letting my mind wander at the slightest provocation of a spare minute. I’m struggling to stay focused on polite conversations as I go about my daily business, my mind is consistently meandering it’s way back to the same consuming thoughts. I stay awake with plot lines darting through my mind and dream about this world that does not yet exist, not even on paper.

The passion propels me, redirecting my gaze back every time I try to look away. This is what we mean when we say that a writer writes because we must, that we need words like we need to breathe, that our stories are our souls. If I don’t write I become consumed by it, embers burning from the inside until I burst into flame. I can’t put my feel back on solid ground until my story finds the sanctuary of the page. I do not write because I merely like it, because it is a hobby I find pleasing. I write because I would suffocate if I didn’t. I would go insane and finally start talking loudly to those pesky characters that live in my brain. As writers, we walk a fine line between passion and insanity; ignoring the words will only send us over the edge faster.

So please, if you see a wandering, dreamy look in my eyes while you’re speaking, or you wave and I don’t seem to notice- please be kind to me, I sincerely apologize. It’s just that some days I cannot escape the myriad of worlds I carry in my head. Perhaps in a few weeks you will ask how the story is going. I will invariably turn bright red and stumble over my words as I try to instantaneously craft my response (which will probably contain a lot of meaningless hand gestures and a few disjointed sentences). But inside I will breathe a sigh of relief because you understand this one thing about me. I dive into my passion because I have no choice. I have lived my stories a thousand times before their words have ever met the page. Perhaps I am a bit crazy as I stare glassy-eyed at my screen mouthing dialog by nonexistent people, complete with facial expressions I don’t notice I’m doing until someone else mentions it. Perhaps my preoccupation with imaginary worlds means I am a tad unhinged. But then again, if you take a peek at literature through the ages, the best of their creators always were- so at least I will keep good company.