Friday, February 13, 2009

Brainstorms in the Dead of Night

     I have a book that I would recommend to any writer for its comradely support. It was published specifically for this reason and there is one entry in there I have read a couple of times now. The book title is : Rules of Thumb- 73 Authors Reveal Their Writing Fixations. The entry by Samantha Hunt reminds me of my similar experience with inconvenient inspirational moments:
Knock, Knock, Knock
     Sometimes if I'm lucky, I'll wake up in the middle of the night with a phrase or sentence echoing in my head. I have never felt responsible for these words plucked from an unconscious reservoir, but rather imagine that they have arrived here, in the dead of night from some exterior source, possibly even off the lips of someone I was talking to in a dream. The phrases rarely make sense. "You weren't going to do all that you nosy queen of habitat," I remember one of them saying.
     Despite the lack of meaning gleaned from the phrases, I feel that to ignore these words would show a terrific lack of respect for mystery, and so it is my one writing rule that I force myself to get up in the wee hours and record these ( really often very dumb) messages so that I might remember them in the morning. "Into the forest I walk with the good bear. Goodbyes and lacerations." What the heck does that mean? I haven't the slightest idea, but I wrote it down anyway. It's the rule.
     Perhaps these phrases are the lowliest of words, the desperate beggars that come knocking at midnight wanting to be put to use in a story. Maybe they are ghost phrases destined to wander in ambiguity until some mortal tries to make sense of them. Or perhaps they are stern warnings that I am just too dense to decode. Or else maybe they are gifts , gifts of nonsense. It doesn't seem to matter. All I know is that were I to ignore these foolish words I would somehow cheapen the value of all words. So in the dark I obey these voices, these midnight inconveniences, not out of superstition but because they connect me to that which is most crucial to my writing: the gloriously inadvertent, the perfectly unintended.
     While I may not be able to relate to everything she wrote I have had moments where I have woken up with a paragraph burning to roll off my pen. I also have obeyed these voices and been pleasantly surprised at the revelations and wise words which seemed to come out of nowhere. I feel that this is spiritual and must not be ignored. I believe all writers should practice this because we are a special breed and we certainly know who we are, don't we? Ms. Hunt takes it seriously and I think we all should. The truth is that if we are dyed-in-the-wool writers we can't help it anyway!
     There are times when I am in the park walking and then a couple of divine sentences overwhelm me and I know that one of those rare moments is upon me. The perplexity is being caught without pen and paper to jot them down as quickly as possible. I have also woken up in the wee morning hours grappling for any pen and paper in the room. At one time I started carrying a mini-cassette player around with me when I had one of these inspirational moments in the car. These revelations can come at any time so it is imperative to get them recorded, somehow, as soon as possible. I've also been without means only to find out later when I could get to writing materials that my memory had lapsed by then and those fleeting gifts of wit were gone and irretrievable.
      If you get these one-offs occasionally or even frequently- and it's okay if you don't, it won't make you any less a writer- then by all means make sure you keep something handy to be able to jot down these ideas, crazy witticisms and outright nonsense ( if you will !) as quickly as possible. It's for a very good reason you were chosen to hear it. 
Just me, The Castle Lady with inspirational hugs and kisses !    

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