I'd imagine that a responsible hub like Powells attracts a ton of smart readers. That's you. I'd also assume that there are a lot of aspiring writers. That might be you, too. In that spirit, I wanted to chat a bit about insomnia, which in my humble opinion has gotten a bad rap over the years.
I'm an insomniac, and I'd like to sing its praises for a minute. My best work gets done between midnight and 5 a.m., in the hours liberated from cell phones and emails and "real world" responsibilities. Sometimes, I think I'm better suited for my imaginary worlds anyway. Real life confuses me.
I have no scientific facts to back up my argument here, except to say that my running theory is that in the middle of the night the gap between my conscious and subconscious mind is somehow narrowed. Every wild, reckless, nutty idea I've ever had on the page started in an insomniac fit. It's a time liberated from rational thought. I never hedge my bets. I don't pander. My decision making on the page is strong and confident.
Anyway, if you're an aspiring writer, give it a shot. Stay up and write tonight. Let me know how it goes. Here's my email: joshATjoshuamohr.net. If nothing else, you and I can lob emails back and forth.
One thing I'll guarantee: you'll be a train wreck the next day. I'm not trying to get you fired. And I don't think you should ignore your kids. But try it out one night: why not brew some midnight coffee, turn on some rock and roll? Turn your imagination loose to go crazy on the page!
As I mentioned yesterday, I'll conclude each blog post this week with an excerpt from a short story. By the end of the week — Monday through Friday — you'll have read the entire piece. Here goes the second installment:
"paris, 2009" (part 2)
The street artist prepared to draw the girl with the black eye first. Normally, he captured his subjects from the neck up, but he didn't want to this time. No, this time, he wanted to make sure and capture her whole body because she was pregnant. There was life in her. There was hope.
He drew her black eye. Swollen hues puffing under it. A ledge of skin commemorating Tyler's temper. Tyler had punched her in the eye, the street artist knew. Not a doubt in his mind. He beat her because of his own squealing failures; beat her because it was easier to make someone else hurt than feel your own disappointments. He probably wanted her to have an abortion.
"Are we in Paris yet?" the girl with the black eye said to the street artist. "I'm in the mood for a croissant."
"We've started our final descent," he said.
"Good. I'm starved."
"There's a shocker," Tyler said.
"Should I deprive your baby of sustenance?"
"Our baby is going to be fine."
How many times had the street artist said those same words to his wife? How many times had he consoled her phobias of birth defects? How many times had he said them right up until they'd become a lie?
For the first few years of their son's life, there was unity, a willingness to work hard and offer constant care; they excelled in doting and protecting and babying him. It was easy when his body was small. Proportionate with his mind. But as everything for the boy grew, gaining girth and whiskers and length, the street artist's commitment waned. The boy's 16th birthday, when other boys and girls his age pleaded with their parents for a driver's license, a car, the keys for a night out with friends, his son had said, "Good spaghetti, good spaghetti," and the street artist knew this would never stop, that they'd celebrate their son's 30th, 40th, 50th birthdays the same way, endless portions, "Good spaghetti..."