I’ve always been a night person. Ever since I can remember, my mind has been most alive in the dark hours. As a child, I reveled in weekend nights, when I’d go to bed with a book, and fall asleep reading, waking later to find it nearly morning, the light in my room still burning. I credit the designer of the condominium we lived in, that my mother never saw the light in the crack under my door.
As a teenager, I’d wait until my parents went to bed, then claim the dimly lit living room as my own. I was addicted to Saturday Night Live, then, and would curl up on the couch and laugh quietly as my parents slumbered blissfully in their own space. Every so often, my stepfather would rise from sleep, and break my solitude. Sometimes I’d glare at him, he’d lecture, and we’d all go back to our separate beds. As I grew to accept him more, as we got to know each other more, it was more likely that we’d have wonderful midnight conversations – he’d show me whatever new math trick he’d discovered, I’d talk about the books I was reading,. Once, he explained to me why he doesn’t believe in time travel.
Being nocturnal is murder when you have to function in a daylight world, but having a night job, for me, was worse. Why? Because my creative hours were usurped by work, and I had no time or desire to write, to play with words, to create anything. I became addicted to bad television and even read less, when I worked at night.
After all this, after nearly 34 years of being nocturnal, my muse has started to betray me. Instead of happily visiting around nine PM, she’s been showing up just after dawn. Perhaps she knows that, just as computer processors are faster when they’re cooled, my brain is more active in the soft, grey, chill of morning. Or, perhaps she’s just being fickle. I wouldn’t put it past a muse to goad, taunt, tease, and , yes, to destroy sleep patterns, in order to get her charge to do something, anything, creative.
For the past two weeks I’ve been waking before six, faced with two choices: go to my office and write, or go back to bed, and try to sleep. The thing is, though, that when I wake, I always have to answer nature’s call, and that wakes my body as well as my mind. And I’m the kind of person who, once awake, STAYS that way. I’ve been forcing myself back to sleep, and as a result I feel drugged, muddled, and, oddly, not very well rested. So I’m determined to let my muse win tomorrow. If I’m wakened in the hours before true dawn, I will pad down the hall to my desk, and see what, if anything, flows from my fingertips to the screen.
Benjamin Franklin said, “The muses love the morning.” Apparently, he was correct.
Muses by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.