February 6, 2013 by benmblackman
It’s 4.15am. I’m sitting in my living room. It’s -1 degrees. Don’t worry, I’ve got a blanket over my bare feet, pyjamas and a Parka coat on (of course). Daisy the (3 legged) cat is snuggling under my right arm so, whilst this is causing a strange aching sensation as I type, it also serves to warm.
What am I doing? Writing, you should have worked that out really. Why? Because I love it. I must to get out of bed at in these conditions mustn’t I?
I didn’t exactly plan it, in fact I was rudely awoken by a strange knocking noise at around 4am. What was it? For a few minutes I contemplated. I wondered why my daughter would be drawing with her chalks on her chalk-board at this ungodly hour but when I checked, it wasn’t her.
The eerie and insane tapping type knocking continued and, at such an ungodly hour, my mind wondered for a second, is this some horror movie situation progressing? Luckily, as I walked down the stairs to confront my doom I realised, it was probably not a chainsaw wielding maniac but the party balloons attached to the front door knocker (knock…knock knock…knock…knock knock knock knock…).
I fed the cat (she was quite insistent about this), couldn’t find the scissors so grabbed a knife and opened the door as quietly as I could so as not to wake the family. The poor chap quietly walking past my house with his dog got a bit of a shock. I’ve never seen what I look like at 4am (a bit like Jack Nicholson in the Shining I presume). Silently I had opened the door and come into hazy street lamp view wielding a large bread knife. ‘Oh, hi Steve,’ I said as if this was your usual afternoon type affair. Steve didn’t reply. He strolled a bit faster.
I cut the balloons down, shut the door, returned the knife and went back to bed.
It’s not easy to sleep once you’ve done all of that though.
In yesteryear when I couldn’t sleep it would be for worry. What haven’t I done (at work)? What would people think about that? How would it effect peoples lives? How would that effect me? Why hadn’t I done it? (Probably because I didn’t have time or it was out of my control.) Cue more worry. A cycle of doom in the early hours. Never a good thing.
These days when I lie awake it is with ideas. Ideas for work (things that can change the world, man). Ideas for businesses (perhaps not to make millions but to make me happy, keep the wolf from the door and embrace my inner passions). And then THE biggie – ideas for writing. How to finish a particular chapter. A new twist for the book I’m planning. Making a few sentences or a simple thought into a worthwhile blog.
When you have a small child you find yourself awake at 4am in the morning rather more often than you would deem ideal. But your brain is an interesting entity at such a time. A few hours of sleep in, it’s at it’s most uncluttered and creative. The problem is, turning that into something presentable or useful. For me, it’s not a time to try and write War & Peace. I’m probably half asleep as I type this very sentence…s…l…o…w…l…y. (I’m usually close to 2,000 words an hour – not right now.) But it is a time to get those ideas on paper. In a notebook (paper); on a notebook (laptop); mobile phone; napkin; tissue; wheetabix box. Whatever you have to hand really. If I don’t write it down I’ll forget.
Some of my ideas are insane – we won’t go into these here. Others are the dream (a single note in my paper notebook, written one early morning states simply, ‘Buy a field.’ This note has been built on since and one day, my friends, one day that field of dreams will be mine). Some will see the light of day, others won’t.
Twice it has struck me like a slap to the face how much I love this writing lark. The first time was in the summer of 2011. I remember it like yesterday. My wife and child had gone out, I had 2 hours spare before going off to play cricket (I LOVE playing cricket. This is important to note).
I sat on my bed and wrote (I was quarter of the way through writing my first book) when it got to cricket time. It was a gloriously sunny July day. Birds were singing, grass was being cut, children were playing, I was writing. I thought momentarily, I’d rather stay here and keep writing than go to cricket. I didn’t, I went to play my first love but that very moment was what they call in swanky marketing pitches, a game changer. I seriously would have preferred to sit indoors continuing to write that day and that told me something. Writing (man), this writing thing is what you love more than anything other. I haven’t stopped since.
Am I religious? Sort of. What do I believe in? We haven’t got time for that. I certainly go in for that fate thing and know that everything happens for a reason (my Granny told me and she knew stuff). Also I believe that if you take the time to look out for things in life there are some pretty big signs that you should probably acknowledge, act upon, and embrace.
Slap number two came about 15 minutes ago, as I began to type on my ice cold lap-top. Feet under my blanket, Parka coat on. Am I mad? Clearly. Will I ever fulfill my dream of becoming a writer? Perhaps. Does it matter? No.
Because I love it.