And Still I Rise: Answering The Midnight Muse
That’s what time she woke me up this morning. Two days ago, she woke me up at 3:49 a.m. Today? Tomorrow? Who knows. I’m talking about the writing muse — that seductive voice that whispers in my ear when an idea strikes me, and I’m compelled to jot it down, explore it. My Muse comes in many forms: a memory, a feeling, a longing, a joke As a non-fiction writer working on a memoir, I welcome my muse. I need her. I love her. Just not at 3 a.m. in the morning.
At first I would fight her. Wait it out. Lie in bed, unable to go back to sleep but refusing to move. Or I’d turn on the television; its bluish glare illuminating my darkened bedroom.
Now I know better. Now I give in. Now I know that nothing will satisfy the early morning mystery except my writing. So I’m prepared. Before I go to bed I make sure I know where my laptop is. Or my legal pad and pen. Or my journal. The morning Muse does not dictate what I write; it just demands that I write. Nothing else but this act will satisfy it.
So I roll out of my warm bed, away from my snoring spouse, throw on my robe, and tiptoe into the living room. Alone. Except I am never alone. My grandmother is there. And aunts. And cousins. And my late friend Odette. And these vivid, sometimes silly, often soul-warming stories.
Are these angels and ancestors waking me during the so-called witching hour? The holistic healer Queen Afua calls it the “sacred time,” the hours between three and five a.m., at which we are at our best and are most able to be in tune with our own thoughts, to listen and to really HEAR.
So when my morning inspiration started happening, after being initially annoyed, I became relieved and recognized it for the gift that it is. This rising has helped me and fortified me in so many ways.
There is a bible quote from Matthew that says essentially, “Don’t boast about your prayers because that will be your reward.” Because of this I’ve never told anyone about my practice. I’d feel self-important saying things like. “Oh I wrote at 3 a.m. yesterday for two hours and 20 minutes. It’s feels ego-driven.
So I don’t discuss it. I just do it.
Which to me is the secret to getting writing done.
People love to talk about writing. People write books about how to write, when to write, what to write. If you are a writer who has produced any work that has been published, people pull you aside. They want to know how you do it. They want to collaborate with you. Do workshops. They tell you how hard it is for them to find the time. Find the inspiration. I used to try to explain and encourage, but now I don’t try to convince people to find what works for them.
Whatever you want to do, you, and only you, can find the time to do it. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, the time finds you, tapping you on the shoulder in the middle of the night
And so I rise. I rise to the challenge that is writing. I make the necessary sacrifices. I steal time like a thief in the darkest hours before dawn. I show up for my muse. Because she shows up for me.
This Essay was originally published in the March Issue of Tuenight.com