Scratching the Night Itch

When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen.  But if you have not a pen, I suppose you must scratch any way you can. – Samuel Lover, Handy Andy, 1842

As sleepy silence falls over the rest of the house, I find myself contemplating the lot of part-time writers, ‘hobby’ writers – those who must contend with a day-job and/or waiting for the kids to finally rest their noisy, demanding heads before stealing precious ‘me time’ to play with words.

The day finally over, we throw ourselves in front of these glowing screens with relief, revelling in the silence and the freedom, finally, to write without distraction. Well, except for the occasional chat with another night-owl or perhaps a friend who has just leapt out of bed on the daylight side of the world. Maybe a quick break for a cup of tea and a biscuit or seven; or a fossick for that bag of chocolate freckles at the back of the freezer. But that’s all part of the creative process.

My point is, we all persist in writing whether we have the time to or not. If ‘not’, we do it anyway, sacrificing rest and enduring the early morning joie de vivre of all-night sleepers with stoicism, mostly, and recognition that this is the price we must pay for what we do.

And I say to all my fellow ‘write-owls’ – bravo! (yawn)

 (*I don’t care what anyone says, I like to begin a sentence with a conjunction now and again. It’s all part of the ‘flow’.) 

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3 Responses to Scratching the Night Itch

  1. ara jansen says:

    I wonder if it’s not easier to write through those nights when your day job has little or nothing to do with words. I’ve always wondered if being something like a real estate agent would mean I’d be clamouring to hit the screen nightly to write my Ice Station, rather than having had enough of it and wanting to do anything else but do more screen dancing. It’s never been word fatigue – just screen fatigue. Is it just me?

    • tamarahunter says:

      Ara, I remember when I worked at The West, writing more or less all day, I just didn’t have the inclination to do very much of it once I was home. Therefore my creative itches remained unscratched for quite a while! It’s only now that I’m starting to pay attention to that itch, again, although I often find when I finally do get that quiet time late at night I’m too tired, having spent the day chasing kids, to indulge it as I’d like. I keep saying I want a little studio by a babbling brook with walls lined with books, a chaise longue, a little puter, and as much time as I’d like to muse and create. And a housekeeper, cook, secretary and masseuse on staff so I don’t have to worry about the mundane things which keep distracting me!! Mind you, when the urge strikes, it REALLY strikes and you get it out there whatever the circumstances :).

  2. I do most of my writing at night, either at home when everyone else has gone to bed or when job traveling in hotels and on airplanes. About a year ago, I started working on my current project, a novel scheduled for first draft completion since mid August. when I began, I decided I had to discipline myself to write every day, something I have accomplished, for the most part. I find that each day I don’t write makes it easier to do the same the next day and vice versa

    When I am home, my writing is different than when I am away. Home writing is best accomplished by me at the dining room table, a habit my wife has taken to with great fondness. The biggest challenge I have with home writing is focus. When I am home, it usually means I have been in the office all day. That means I have almost certainly been writing reports, marketing copy, etc. It also means I have wasted a lot of time in meetings, so I am usually drained of any humanity I started the day with. The distractions of home and life (soccer , dance, basketball, plays, softball, etc.) make a nice garnish too. There are days when I really hate the idea of staying up and doing it, but those are usually the days I get my best stuff.

    Away writing is totally different. When Im away, it means I have lots of time at night. I make sales calls all day, which is usually energizing. I used to stay up at night writing reports and sending E-Mails, but my trusty Blackberry has changed all that. Now I write the business stuff as I go and my stuff at night. My writing competition on the road is typically the hotel bar. I say to myself: self, its a long and twisty road, this writers life, but a long and twisty life is the life of a Wombat, so be it.

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