The 11th Hour
“Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.” — Ira Glass
More than anything, I want to be a be a beat the sun up every morning writer. Don’t get the wrong idea, I don’t imagine myself springing from the mattress like Dick Van Dyke or Julie Andrews. But even rolling out of the sheets chipping sleep from my eyes would be better than the regretful behind the 8-ball mad dash to get into the weeds I sign myself up for on a daily basis.
It’s just short of shameful. Despite being a single mom who is sole-parent 100% raising my daughter, I enjoy the benefits of a pretty a rare setup: I have the gift of time thanks to the support of rockstar family and friends. They want to help me get whatever time I need to write. But wait it’s worse, I also work from home 3 days a week. On a ranch in the redwoods of West Marin- don’t get it wrong, for the Bay Area I am essentially working poor renting a converted double-wide bordered by horse trailers, dumpsters and RV’s, the hippie-skippy version of Breaking Bad. Not lame, and not luxe.
Regardless of the fine details, there is no reason I shouldn’t be up at dawn, sipping coffee, writing in my Moleskine journal and using tools like rochambeau to decide if I will battle wildlife on the trails that line the hills around my house or do yoga before I write the next chapter of my novel or carve out another episode of the TV show I’m developing. But no. It hasn’t worked like that.
I’ve scoured the Lifehacker strategies and every creative and productive habit book as well as been a disciple of both carrot and stick. It didn’t work when I had chocolate, sex, love and affection as incentives. I’m just not that morning gal.
What I am, is Queen of the 11th Hour. Really, when 11 o’clock comes around, no matter the time zone (it’s been true in both Hawaii and New York City), I am up and alert with an itch to hit the keyboard. I require no caffeine or cannabis, only 90 minutes alone in my work space with my Scrivener app or my giant post-it pads. Simply stated, I am solely reliant on pressure, a devotee of the deadline.
Probably that’s why I can write for a wage. I don’t like to say work, because I have the privilege of loving what I do. The clock disappears when I’m writing for somebody else. No hacks necessary. Willfully I slide into the zone.
It’s taken my long enough to accept this as truth. I have no more time to try more incremental snoozeless tactics to get me up and at it with the early birds. That ain’t me babe. I’m the gal who has to live her life first, whether it’s for decades or day-by-day: I’m a night writer. It appeals to my pressure cooker style. And no wonder I’m finding my stride as a middle-aged single mom to dive in and commit- it’s where the deadlines are lurking.