Hedwig’s Lament

I am not a morning person. I have always aspired to be a morning person, the idea that being a morning person is to be a better person having been ingrained in me from a very young age. After years of trying (kind of) and failing to be bright eyed and productive any time before 9am, I really should just give up and accept my status as a classic night owl. However, in embarking on the Slice of Life challenge, I am glamoured by the idea of the committed morning writer: rising each day before the sun, feeling super energised by a round of 20 or so sun salutations, grasping a mug of warm water with lemon, gazing placidly out the window at the morning mist and the sketch of tree branches on the dawn horizon, before turning to my computer with transcendent inspiration to just… write…!

Morning writers use the morning because no one else is around to need them or disturb them. They are responsibly refreshed from 7ish hours of sleep.  They are process oriented – they don’t wait for “inspiration” to strike, they just put. in. the. work. They complete their writing and then attend to the rest of their lives. They have full lives and they are good at all of it. Morning writers CAN have it all!

My mythology of the productive morning writer also goes hand-in-hand with efficiency; the idea of precious, stolen 20 minute chunks offered on the alter of writer’s craft, before the world sweeps in with responsibilities and chores. Meanwhile, I spent a whole 5 minutes propping my head up while I one-finger typed “synonym fro awesome” into Google. To be honest, my first paragraph took me, like, an hour and 15 minutes to bang out because I was so sleepy that I kept forgetting what I was doing in the middle of writing a sentence. Oooh! I just did it again.

I doubt a pre-dawn writing schedule will end up being a sustainable creative framework for me, but I can’t help but love the idea of it. I know it’s because I’m worried I won’t be able to keep this writing challenge up. I really enjoy writing, but there were so many other things I have enjoyed that I’ve let slip away because responsibilities bad habits have crowded them out. In essence, I am looking for a special magic time, a 25th hour, untouchable and secret, never allowing life to interfere with its purpose. Perhaps that’s why I’ve drawn my morning writer as such an ascetic – I believe I need time that is sacred.

My husband will occasionally politely suggest that I overdo it with the level of  commitment to my duties. If I take the dogs for a walk it’s an hour long jaunt, when 20 minutes around the block would do.  If I clean the kitchen, being tidy isn’t enough – it has to be spotless. I set up a new savings account and I immediately want to save the largest amount possible, leaving no room for extras. Can’t just cut down on snacks and work out a little – I have to go full vegan and start running 10ks. I begin a writing challenge and I think I have to start typing every morning at 5:30am. None of these things are sustainable and so I get discouraged and quit.

I am struggling to write a good conclusion paragraph here, and I feel the need to wrap this up. Basically I crave and fear the discipline I need to engage with this challenge. I need to set myself some limits and remind myself that “publish” does not mean perfect.

 

12 thoughts on “Hedwig’s Lament

  1. You might have struggled with it, but your last line is GREAT (notice, I didn’t say perfect…) Don’t glamorize morning writers so much. I am one, and it’s not with salutations and lemon water, and it’s not struggle free!!! Even now, I’m trying to avoid because I want to go make my coffee so much!!!

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  2. I can relate to so many of your truths here – getting lost in searching for a word, showing up for the writing when the writing seems to be sluggish and evasive (keep showing up; it will come!) I can even identify with that part about taking things to the limit: Years ago I was inspired by people who are “extreme coupon-ers” and decided that I, too, could save oodles of money. Until the day I lost a coupon in a store. I retraced my steps several times before my weary son said “MOM – let it go!” And I am a morning writer who’s just switched to late evening … every day is different unto itself. with its own rhythms. Go with the flow that works for you. I found this piece hopeful, real, and beautifully composed – it’s a true taste of the writing process.

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    1. Thank you Fran! I really appreciate your advice – it definitely makes sense that each day will be different. If you haven’t written that couponing story yet, you really should! And if you have let me know because I’d love to read it.

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  3. I love this post more than I can say. I literally laughed out loud when I got to this sentence, “Meanwhile, I spent a whole 5 minutes propping my head up while I one-finger typed “synonym fro awesome” into Google.” SNORT. (I read it out loud to my husband, too, as I groggily put down my own mug. He said, “keep reading that one; I think you’ve found a kindred spirit.”) I started blogging last year during the challenge. It. was. hard. There are some tips and tricks to get past the really awful days (and there will be some) – so feel free to get in touch. Or read Elisabeth Ellington who has some great ideas – check here: https://thedirigibleplum.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/10-forms-to-try-when-youre-stuck-during-the-slice-of-life-challenge-sol19/ And, just so you know, as an actual morning person who has a job and two kids and two cats and and and… I blog in tiny bursts not morning zen and sometimes last March I published only to hit the button and say I did it. I am excited for you to try this journey!!

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    1. Thank you Amanda for your lovely comment! I would love to think of you as a kindred spirit! And I’m so glad it made you laugh! (I mean, I like to think I’m funny, but it helps when someone else agrees.) I’m impressed that you started blogging through last year’s SOL – I checked out your blog and your writing is great! And it gives me hope that I’ll continue too. Thank you for reaching out and for the Elizabeth Ellington link; I’ll check it out and I’ll get in touch if I get stuck. Thanks again!

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  4. No, publish certainly does not mean perfect. Ever. When asked if and when she revises published work, Louise Erdrich answered, “as often as I can.” That literally blew my mind, like “you’re allowed to do that?” So the answer is yes! We’re allowed to write as best and also as poorly as we can. We can change the words later. We can change our perspective now. Publish never has to mean perfect. I’m so glad we’re doing this together. (Also no word counts, either!)

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    1. Ever!? That is pretty mind blowing. School, teachers, academia, publishing – all of those teach that publishing means revision is over and done with. I’m pretty rattled by this idea – and I think I owe a student or two an apology… Also, I feel a post brewing from this… Thank you Sherri. You’re forever awesome. 🙂

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  5. Such raw reflection! But you are not alone in the struggle. Give the “draft: rough and brief” a try. But definitely find a time of day when you can keep your eyes open. You know you can write a day ahead of the schedule so when you write at night you don’t feel pressured to make the deadline time. Just an idea. 🙂

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