Night has descended with her violet arms, and the sky as it slips through the lingering storm clouds glitters with what must be a million stars. I am at my desk, the white glow of the screen shines against my skin. night skyphoto © 2010 Dave Young | more info (via: Wylio)

It is 10pm, and I am writing.

For years I have tried to heed the wisdom of my teacher Sharman Apt Russell, who once said that she wrote first thing in the morning before the words of the world clouded out her own voice. I would get up early and write for a bit before I let the “to do” list of grading and chores take over. This works in a practical way for me in that I get my blog written, I get email handled, I post a bit on Facebook, but it has turned out, as I’ve lived more fully into this writing life, that it is not the way I am going to get my creative writing done. I am just a person who wakes up with her mind full of what the day has, and I am not able – most days – to put that stuff aside and do the real work I need to do. I’m just too bound by what I feel my responsibilities are. I’m learning to be okay with this.

So many days now, I plow through the list of to dos and then plan to write in the late afternoon or early evening, when my spirit feels more settled and my mind has slowed down. This works, most of the time . . .

But some days, the list of obligations grows longer than the days. I find myself unwritten at the hour when I would normally watch another hour of TV or climb into bed with a book. I promised myself I would write 1,000 words a day, so I made a change.

At 10pm, I walked into my office, put in earphones (Amos Lee seems a good fit for night writing), and began to write. Almost instantaneously I felt the world shift into that soft space where the words come easily. I sat for an hour and just let things flow out of me as if they had been resting calmly behind my mind until I was ready for them to pour out.

Maybe what I need is to let myself do what must be done and then honor my work by giving it my full attention at the end of the day where it can come unencumbered by duty and driven by desire.

Last night, the lovely lady of the night wrapped her purple arms around me and sparkled her stars into my spirit so that I could find that place of rest and language where I would write myself to calmness again.

My friend Shawn Smucker blogged, completely coincidentally (or not?), about a similar idea today. Check out his post “Paying Yourself First”.