Tag Archives: imagination

The Writing Hour

typing

You’ve heard of the Witching Hour, right? Well, I want to talk about the Writing Hour- the magical time of day when I get to write. I get up at 4:30 in the morning, every single day, just so that I can have this quiet, undisturbed time to write.

Every night, before bed, I set up my coffee maker so that it starts my coffee at 4:15, assuring that it will be ready when I crawl out of the warmth of my blankets way before the first light of dawn. It takes me a little time to wake up- somewhere around the dregs of my first cup, I stop reading and commenting on blogs, and start working on something of my own. Sometimes it’s my novel, and sometimes it’s a blog post- on a good day, like today, I might manage both.

Like many of us, I am an extremely busy person. I work full time, I have a small child (and a not so small child, also), a house full of pets that want my attention. There is homework to be done, and housework, laundry that never seems to be folded, and a million other little tasks tugging constantly on my mind. On top of that, I am in recovery, trying to fit in meetings, and doing all the things that take care of me mentally and physically. Groceries need to be bought, dinners prepared, I have to get to the gym, I have to walk the dog. My God, just writing it down makes me anxious. The list literally had no end- once you complete it, if that ever even happens, you go back to the top and start over.

And that is fine, that’s just the way life is. BUT…doing any of these things at 4:30 in the morning would be pretty unreasonable, if you ask me. The only acceptable thing I can think of to do at that hour, besides sleep, is write. Between the hours of 4:30 and roughly 6:30 in the morning, I am free to indulge myself in whatever form of writing pleases me. I can read blog posts at my leisure, or re-read the latest chapter in my work in progress. I can let my fingers fly over the keyboard as I transcribe the crazy events playing out in my imagination. Not even the sky is the limit. It’s entirely up to me.

Could I use a bit more sleep? Maybe. Would my life benefit at all from me staying up later than 8:30 every night? Most likely. Am I willing to give even an inch on this one thing, and give up my magical Writing Hour? Not even a chance. I’d rather yawn my way through the day and count down the minutes to bed time than give up my writing time.

Happy Friday, and Happy Writing!

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Dreaming Away a Gray Morning…

courtesy of brokensavy.xanga.com
courtesy of brokensavy.xanga.com

If you ask me, daydreaming is a pastime that is sorely undervalued. It seems to me I was scolded for it as a child, and as an adult, it is hard to allow yourself to just sit there, gazing off into space as your head just floats off to wherever it does…There is always something else more important you could be doing, right? That vague sort of guilt at your criminal idleness, when, for GOD’s SAKE, there are dishes that need to be done, you deadbeat!

But you know what? I am putting my foot down, and objecting to all of that crap drilled into me throughout my life, by teachers, by parents, by bosses and, eventually, my own inner critic. Daydreaming was one of the most beautiful parts of my childhood- the elaborate, ongoing games of pretend that I played, the worlds and characters assembled from my own imagination, captivated me to no end. I’m not sure how my little neighborhood friends felt about the roles I forced them to play day after day, but if they had any complaints, I certainly don’t remember. Not that it would have mattered- it was my world, my rules. I never said I was the nicest kid on the block, just the bossiest one with the big imagination.

Through the years, my daydreaming evolved organically into writing- you can only facilitate games of pretend for so long, you know. But even apart from the writing, I think these daydreams of mine have served another, very useful, purpose. Way before “The Secret” ever hit the scene, before I knew anything about “visualization” or any of that stuff, I was imagining my life into being. I am not saying that everything I ever dreamed up, I also manifested into being (thank God! My favorite game of pretend was called “adoption”, where I was an orphaned child adopted by people so rich they owned Hawaii…think “Annie”, with an island, and a kitchen sort of like what the Jetson’s had.), but all of that speculating on my life did allow me to take note of the things I really did like the idea of. Some things fell to the wayside, but some became goals.

About a year ago, I was sorting through some old notebooks. One of them lay open on the bed, and Devon and I were talking about all the stuff I had written…he asked me what this particular thing was, so I grabbed it, scanned through it, and laughed, handing it to him. It was a list I had scribbled out several years earlier, when I was still in Nevada. My goals were listed, small but specific- 1) Pass my CCA exam; 2) Get a fabulous, great paying job at a hospital in Monterey; 3) Move back to the coast, near the ocean, in a cute place with two bedrooms…I think there were more things on the list, but you get the idea. The most striking thing about them was that I had put a timeframe at the top, like “By this time next year”. Somehow, three out of the five things, at least, had happened.

Right now, I am picturing myself in that house again- the big old Craftsman in Santa Cruz somewhere, preferably near downtown. I can see the wide, grand looking staircase just past the front door with the glass panels. I can see the polished hardwood floors, and the big, beautiful rugs that lay on top of them, here and there. I know the kitchen is warm and bright and full of light, and the living room is cool and calm and dark when the day is warm. I see my study with it’s big, oversized, gleaming wood surface right in the center of the room, littered with the debris of a writers’ life- reference books and scribbled notes, a cup of coffee, a jar full of pens. The window behind me overlooks a sunny backyard, full of flowers and leafy things, grassy parts for kids, shady parts for grown ups…

If nothing ever comes of this vision, who will it have hurt to have dreamed it? This scene in my head pushes me forward when I feel like doing nothing, but I could be writing. It gives me a purpose, and something big to work towards. It is the closest thing to stillness I can achieve, daydreaming. And I think it’s something that everyone should spend a little more time doing. What would it hurt?

Word Nerd

BookS-books-to-read-26957638-1024-768I have a confession to make. When you start talking to me about numbers, my mind shudders to a grinding halt. Even in the most innocent and simple of conversations, the minute you throw in a fraction, i.e.- “Oh my gosh, that frigging pie was SO good , I tried not to eat more than half a slice, but I couldn’t help it, I ate more than three quarters of the whole thing!” Well, rest assured, you lost me at half a slice.

I don’t know why this is, or what is wrong with me. I suspect it has something to do with years and years of humiliating failure in my math classes- it’s kind of like that stupid riddle, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, here’s the answer- I don’t KNOW, and I’m tired of trying to figure it out! I’m just no good at math, that’s all. (by the way, that is a terrible answer to that joke, so don’t try it. People will just look at you funny and walk slowly away.) What I mean is, I don’t know if my classes sucked because I was bad at math, or if I’m bad at math just because that part of my brain is atrophied or something.

I remember being in my early twenties and taking some entrance exams to the local college-one of the counselors was looking over my scores, shaking his head. As usual, my testing in everything was really, really great…except for math, which was dismally low. He said to me, and I will never forget this- “Someone, sometime in your life told you you weren’t good at math, and you believed it. There is no way someone can score this high in everything else, and score this poorly in math.”

I have a different theory. I think I’m bad at math because it is harder for me. I have to try ten times as hard at math to do half as well as I do in anything involving words. (Hey, that had multiplication AND fractions in it. What do you know?)  I even do better in word problems than I do in straight number problems. I think maybe there’s a little part of me that gave up when I realized I couldn’t be a superstar in math the way I could with all the other subjects.

But reading…ah, reading. Those sweet, beautiful, wonderful, flowing words that grace the pages of books. The amazing trick of stringing them together, one after the other, to tell a story. A story that can take you places you have never been, places you could never otherwise go.  Books with beautiful covers and wild, improbable tales inside- tales of imaginary places that are so clear in your minds eye, you can revisit them years later simply by thinking of the story you read. Books are the only time machine that truly exists- you can go backwards, forwards, sideways to another dimension. You can go anywhere you want to go, anytime you want to go there- if you only have the pages in your hand and an imagination.

I learned to read at a very young age, and at first it was a neat party trick. It became a source of great pride for me as I grew older, always keeping several grades ahead in ability of where I actually was.  But when life grew rough at home, I discovered the greatest thing of all about my love of words- the escape hatch. All I had to do to be somewhere else, somewhere more beautiful than where I was, was pick up a book and start reading. When we would have book fairs at school, I would go on a feverish mission, hell bent on getting money from my mom so that I cold buy a book.  When they would pass out those little scholastic newspaper thingy’s where you could order books, I would lose my mind- how the hell could anyone pick just one?

The library was, and still is, one of my favorite places in the world. I love the smell of all those thousands of weathered, handled books, the quiet and the anticipation of roaming the aisles, finding some new adventure right in front of you, behind some quiet cover. I still, to this day, miss Borders and B.Dalton and all the other bookstores that have disappeared. The nearest (affordable) bookstore to me is a thirty minute drive from me, and it embarrasses me to have to say that. I mean, what the hell is wrong with this world when the bookstores are dying off?

The most beautiful development of all for me was when I realized that all of those words and stories I had soaked up over countless hours and days, they wanted to come back out, to fill up pages and hard drives and notebooks with words of my own, stories that I created. There are books and notebooks and magazines in literally every room of my home, the hallway included. There are poems scratched on napkins and legal pads with story ideas, and even a full length novel stored in my computer. Nothing in this world makes me happier than words. If you didn’t read as a child, I highly encourage you to try again now. You never know, it may be different now…unlike algebra, which will still totally suck.

Have a great day!