Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

7/7/09

Evening Writing

Late in the evening, I often begin my best writing. It is quiet, and my mind is at rest. There is a settling of all things.

No cars are coming by on Ramblewood Drive. COD students are not walking to school. The phone never rings. Birds aren't singing. Just quiet.

Nothing is in front of me, like an appointment or some errands needing taking care of. These things are silent too.

This is when my writing is often best. I can linger on a word, confident nothing will interrupt me.

Myself -- I am slightly tired, and so, internal distractions from my favorite thorn do not bother me either. It is when all is at respite, I hear the conversation of ideas. During the day, the conversation is still there, but is cluttered out by the maintenance of the day. This is as much a reprieve emotionally as it is a function of production.

If an idea comes about, I will cater its cause, and work until I can no longer shrug off sleep. Bad ideas will mix in with the good, but I can sort all of this out in the morning.

Nights are gentle. For Robert Frost, it intoned a sad, melancholic time.

Acquainted with the Night
by: Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

From "New Hampshire", 1923
I remembering understanding this poem best when I was younger. There were days I would spend hours talking with a friend, then walking two miles back. It was a misty walk, with dew on the grass, cool, with an evening fog blowing in off the Cal-Sag Channel (Calumet-Saganashkee Channel for those who care.). It could have been creepy if a moor was involved, but for me, there was just a tincture of peace matched by an equal amount of sadness. Childhood ends, and I knew it would.

From my friend's house, I would walk through the neighborhood, along Central Ave at Conkey Woods, then cut over at Bob's Citgo, and follow 127th to my street. As a runner, then, two miles was nothing if I ran, but I walked slowly then (before I learned the hurried, never talk to strangers commuter walk in Chicago).

In Bloomington, IL
Later, in college, I learned the art of porch reading. I found an old chair on the porch at the house at Linden and Poplar (a block from the Old Rt 66). I leaned back against a broken refrigerator under a dim light bright enough for a few hours of reading and to attract moths my landlord's kitten would seduce into lunch. I was a private tutor then, and this was how I kept up with my students' reading list. Linden was a mildly busy road then, leading north into Hudson, but quiet enough as I played Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby tapes as I flipped through hundreds of pages of "Treasure Island," "The Island of the Blue Dolphins," and other such junior high school classics.

A few years before, I lived across from Illinois Wesleyan University in the basement of a dilapidated house on Center Street, the northbound part of Rt. 51. The landlord lived an hour south in Springfield and so repairs rarely happened. A constant stench of humidity and mold would waft through if the windows would open for a breeze. This was before my first car, so to escape, I would wander south to downtown Bloomington, and the east on Washington. Bloomington carries the scent of corn and soy in July, and I'd end up in a park, or sitting on the stairs of the Old Courthouse watching policeman and late shifters go by. Sometimes, I would see an old friend and we'd sit together and talk about hopeful days ahead.

Now, in the evening, I am in these places whenever I like. I am anywhere the mood or poem suits. Imagination has been a friend to me all my life, and the quiet of the night helps get me wherever I need to be. Childhood has ended, but I walk Central Avenue or Rt. 51 any night I need.

These days, I can indulge. My situation provides the freedom to write late at night, so I will. The morning can tolerate me getting up late (8:00 am is late). My writing list is long, from poems and short stories to blogs to professional writing to book reviews. Even longer is the need to edit existing pieces into submittable form.

It is a good life.
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