Those hours bounding both sides of midnight are special to me. That’s when the magic happens: the distractions of the day fall victim to their slumber, the sound of the breeze is no longer obscured by the activities of living, and on it rides the seeds of inspiration. The late night hours are a mystical time for this writer, a time all to myself and my imagination.
Closing in now on a year previous, I was approaching the thirty-thousand word mark of my current work in progress. Those were evenings I’ll always remember as this creation began to take shape and reveal itself to me as the pen glided across the page. There is always a peace and humility that writing stirs within me. The marathon pacing of novel writing extended those feelings long after the evening waned to morning. In part, it’s what keeps me coming back for more.
Not long after that night, our second daughter arrived. She was our very own plot twist, by greeting us a month earlier than anticipated. Active in the womb, she was ready to throw all in to the fray of life. Looking back, I cherish now the extra time we’ve been granted to share together.
I’m the late night parent. Always have been, and always will be. I’ve always sacrificed sleep to write or get in an early morning run. You only live once, why sleep it away?
Our daughter was perfection in miniature form. But perfect as she was, her body was small and fragile to the world around her. The attention required of a premature infant – mainly the frequent, small feedings – meant little to no sleep as I pulled the night shift. With every ninety minutes the cycle repeated: diaper change followed by a feeding. Unfortunately, like many infants of her term, she developed severe reflux that prevented her from lying flat after each feeding.
Instead her small head rested in my palm and her swaddled body followed the curvature of my arm as I cradled her close to my body. It was the only angle that seemed to keep what small amount of formula she ingested from working its way back up her esophagus.
Writing became a memory for those first couple of weeks. All the while ideas swirled through my mind as my daughter and I spent many an evening together enjoying the magic of cool, moonlit autumn evenings. As the nights ended, we watched as the frost sparkled through the sun’s rays piercing the cool fog. I’ve witnessed the beauty of countless sunrises with her in my arms – far more than I’ll likely experience with any other soul.
We both adjusted to our new schedule. The following two months were short on sleep but long on cementing the bond between father and daughter. Soon I found myself typing away with her cradled securely to my chest. The words flowed again, as if I never stopped. My inspiration took in petite breaths beneath eyelids quelled shut by quenched hunger, until she would awake again, reminding me of all that was perfect in our world.
The rhythm of the keys became her lullaby those first few months. When I reminisce about the process of penning the novel, those nights always appear front and center. Was I creating a writer? Maybe, or maybe not. In the least I’ll be able to recount those nights to her, reliving those precious moments for myself, while the wonder of it all stirs her creativity.
And that work in progress? It’s doing just fine, having been nurtured and polished to near perfection over those many nights. I’m certain it’ll soon find a home all its own before making its way in the world.