I read somewhere that you never have to edit what you write at 2 a.m.
I’ve gotten out of bed a few times in my life to write something down. I have no idea where it’s going or what’s going to happen, I just hear a voice talking in my head. It’s my job to get up and write down what it says. It’s like channeling. I’ve only completed one story from one of these, as Tolkien put it, bolts of lightening out of a clear blue sky. I assume the rest of the story will show up one day, or the other stories wanting to be written will step aside, and that bolt of lightning's time will have come.
I currently have a world that wants to be written about, but rather than emerging, fully armored, from the top of my head like Athena burst forth from Zeus’s, it's coming in tiny bursts of static instead of a bolt of lightening. Sometimes, I hear conversations, sometimes I just get bits of information, for instance, the vampires in this world are not the sexy heroes I like. They’re old school vamps and their physical appearance changes depending on how much they’ve fed. The hungrier they are, the scarier. These are the things I need to know at 2 am. At least according to the muse.
I keep a notebook next to my bed. It’s not for writing down ideas, it’s to catch my dreams in a net of words. I have crazy, Technicolor dreamscapes rather than regular human dreams. I’m convinced they are of importance, and keep them in a journal for when Cthulhu calls on me to testify. The problem is, I might remember a dream in the morning, but by the time I get around to writing it down, it’s a pale version of itself or I’ve forgotten it altogether. But, with just a few words scribbled upon waking, I can remember most of the dream. I assume the tactile act of writing helps me remember, it carves something on my synapses so I don’t forget. But there are times when I’ve looked at the list and remembered something that had completely slipped my mind. It’s usually something incredibly important, like the coat color of the dog chasing me. This is not true of those bolts of lightning.
If I don’t get up and write down what I hear, the rhythm of the words, the phrasing, the magic, is lost, even with a net of words scribbled in the notebook. I look at what I’ve written, and there is no synaptic sparkle. I wonder... What was special about a shock of hair over an eyebrow? Why did that belong on the first page of a story? That’s like 2nd chapter stuff. What are you doing? What did you drink before you went to bed?
This morning as I lay awake, enjoying the fact it is Saturday and I can get up whenever I damn well please, I heard the heroine of the world trying to be born start to speak in my head. It was the first few sentences in a short story, and the first that I’ve heard narrated from her point of view. It was not the great big googeldygoo I imagine wants to be born, the grand sweeping epic. Maybe that was why I neglected to write it down. I scribbled a few useless words to try and remember the gist of what it was, but not in the exact words as I heard them. And now, they are gone forever.
I hereby swear, by the muse, that if she should every speak in my lazy, traitorous head again, I will get up from my bed, not just rise, but BOUND like a gazelle, to my desk and write down every preposition, every exhalation of breath that she sends in my direction. I don't care what time it is, or what day it is, or how late I went to bed. I don't care how grand the story is, if there is coffee or not, if I feel like it or how cold it is. I will not take the words of the muse for granted. If I do, may she turn me into a lollipop and put me in a tobacco chewer's mouth.
So help me, Odin.
Jesus, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, too.