I haven’t read Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals, from which Marnie Hanel created This by That: Writers by Daily Starting Time in today’s NY Times. I have always found it challenging enough to write, to design, to create – to summon the Muses for a respectable amount of time on any given day – without having to worry that there is a right or wrong time to sit oneself down with one’s inner spirit and give outward presentation to whatever inner reveries cry to be heard.
Which is why, when I bought a copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way when it was first published in 1992, I shelved it on reading her personal theory that a writer must fully devote themselves to their Morning Pages, taking advantage of that post-dream, pre-fully awake state of consciousness, before the phone and fax demand attention (what on Earth is a phone, not to mention a fax, you ask…), before the clamorous sounds of the exterior world compete with the more sensitive thrums of the interior.
I once heard a theory that one is meant to rise and have it at the hour one is born…that this time of one’s birth is one’s own pre-destined and most powerful time. Which would mean for me that I should set my alarm for 7:32am. But I have always begged to differ. 7:32am is a neither here nor there hour for me. Neither early enough to see the sun rising on the most gloriously long days of summer. Nor early enough to get anything worthy done before the phone and fax (translation: BBerry, iPhone, iPad and MacBook) announce their presence along with my daily schedule. No, 7:32am has never been a time of day to which I can creatively relate, since I was usually fully coiffed, manicured, and rushing out the door in heels by that hour.
No, from my earliest childhood I have been a night owl, preferring the end-of-day silence, after the birds have chirped their last blatherings, the television screen has ceded to snow (does anyone remember those days?), and everyone else is asleep and I have the house to myself.
To sit by the fire. To read. To listen to music. To mosey outside and look at the stars. To sit on the porch with a mug of hot cider in the Fall. To write. To design. To create. To wander the house talking out loud to myself and not be embarrassed at my crazy woman habit. To visit with my Muses, all of whom also seem to prefer the late night hour. They are at once more serious, more playful and more communicative at night, as they were last night when my husband lay sleeping beside me.
Perhaps this is why I have also always preferred to eat late at night. Never mind the Italian habit, which dictates that dinner before 8:00pm is a sort of blasphemy, there is something decidedly romantic and alluring about a delicious dinner, a glass of wine and the conversation and ideas and energy that flow when the day is over and there are many hours of rest to look forward to, instead of many hours of work and responsibility. Not to mention the sheer pleasure of taking a long walk after dinner, a tradition not easily duplicated in the States where we don’t have these lovely places called piazzas.
F. Scott Fitzgerald has always been one of my favorite writers. The Great Gatsby could never have been written during the early morning hours. So when I saw the below Meme of creative hours I smiled at discovering Fitzgerald’s penchant, in stark contrast to his writer compatriots, for beginning in the early evening and, I imagine, working into the night. My kind of man. My kind of writer. My sensibility exactly.
But I will take that creative time whenever it comes. Sometimes early. Sometimes late. I get up at 6:00am, but I’m not always prone to opening up my MacBook, which feels often like an intrusion on the peace of a sunrise, an early morning’s bird song, the sound of the breeze picking up the leaves, which are just beginning to fade in color, the edges of which are goldening ever so slightly as to be hardly discernible, and wouldn’t be were my nose buried in a computer.
Nor would I see the fuzzy caterpillar. Nor the last of the mourning dove chicks perched at the edge of its nest, ready, but fearing, to take first flight. Nor would I enjoy as much the scent of my coffee. It does taste different when I am doing nothing else but cupping the mug in two hands and holding it for a moment against my throat, against my cheek, then up close to my nose.
Yes, there are my Morning Pages. But there are also my Evening Pages, and they deserve just as much respect. I think there are many Night Writers who would come out of the closet if The Artist’s Way admitted that there are many Ways…not just one. There is much creativity that goes on late at night.
Theatre people know this. For now, we will keep it to ourselves. But you can join us whenever you want.
Have a lovely Sunday, everyone, whichever you are…morning birds or night owls.
Thanks for reading, as always. And, P.S. Feel free to chime in, a la Denis Labelle and let me know to which writerly time you most relate…even if you aren’t a creative person in that specific sense.