The Writer’s Dilemma

Project MCP, September, challenge #1: back to ...

It’s the age old question for writers who wake up in the middle of the night and lie there writing poems, posts, and clever book blurbs in their heads —  get up and write it down, or try and go back to sleep and remember it in the morning.

You know the drill, you write and write in this wonderfully imaginative mind of yours, knowing you should turn on the light and jot down the amazing ideas, but fearing you’ll disturb your husband, not that he isn’t already disturbed (okay, so that didn’t come out sounding the way it should), or that doing so will cause you to be unable to get back to sleep.

Sometimes you do write it down and then later, finding the scraps of paper, you’re amazed at what this half asleep brain comes up with and grateful that you took the chance.

And then other times, like last night, you think about how cold it is, even by the edge of the covers. It’s been 27 degrees F outside all day, and surely in this woodstove-heated-house, it’s too cold to venture even one arm out to the nightstand. And you know, of course, that the pen will be missing, that you’ll never get back to sleep. So you lie there telling yourself you will remember THE GREAT IDEA, how could you, after all, forget something so earth-shatteringly good? And so you recite it over and over to make sure you will remember, which serves only to keep you awake longer, the very thing you were trying to avoid. And you go on to contemplate other great questions, such as why you can’t find stationary in stores anymore, or whether or not learning to tweet is a good idea or is better off left alone (as your seventeen-year-old son advised: “Mom, Twitter is not for you.”)

And then morning comes, and you were just starting to get back to sleep, but oh, you must get out of bed, icicles or not, and on the radio Phillip Phillips is singing “Home,” and about how it will all be clear, and you know you made a mistake. Your mind is as clear as the freezing fog outside. What was the great post? Was the poem really about that you might be the next to die? Who would want to read THAT? You try to remember the earth-shattering book blurb and scrawl it down before it too evaporates like the steam from the teapot. And darn it, you’re tired. You’re spent. And for what?

Your spouse gets out of bed three hours after you and wonders why you are looking at him so maliciously, what did he do now?

And so you go up to your room, make sure there is a pen and pad by your bed, and pray for warmer days.

5 comments on “The Writer’s Dilemma

  1. I never remember things that I think up at 3am, but sometimes I remember a wisp or feeling that ends into my writing one way or another. I found that writing it down is more frustrating, because it’s barely legible and makes no sense in the light of day! I think this is a common frustration for many writers.

  2. I keep a notebook by my bed. Like Cinderella’s dress, the stuff I think in the middle of the night turns to rags in the morning if I do not capture it in that moment, just the way it is.

  3. Yes, sometimes I get that wisp feeling too; I really dislike that. But that’s usually more from dreams. I am a very prolific dreamer. When I am truly lying awake at night I do have good writing ideas and it really does pay for me to go ahead and write them down. But it was sooo cold!

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