Essay to Be Read at 3 a.m.

An Essay

by Alethea Black
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Althea, I loved this story. There is a lot of wit and great writing, and I admire your ability to confront reality. I lean toward a view about 180 degrees from you. I'm generally a morning person, though my definition of morning is a little more flexible than you've outlined. My best writing usually occurs in the morning, but not always. Some of my best inspiration has come after midnight, either purposefully sitting at the keyboard, or from a brainstorm in bed, while mulling over story ideas at 3 a. m.

I've just finished reading this piece on my balcony in Chicago as the sun was going down (I wonder if I'll be up at three), and like the theatrical light cue--house to half, blackout, and lights up on stage--I was drawn into the essay as the audience is drawn to the play on the stage. The darkness, as Alethea Black seems to tell me, clarifies my focus on the light. Given today's momentous anniversary, with the media almost relentlessly full of reflection, I appreciate where her essay took me. I especially liked the names of the nocturnal flowers. Sweet Rocket, indeed.

As a fellow scribe and night owl, I appreciated this essay. It's beautifully written. Thanks.

Such great comments!

Thank you, Stephen "Sweet Rocket" Spencer.

To Jeff: Bed is the best place to brainstorm.

And thanks again to everyone at Narrative, who also first published the story (The Only Way Out Is Through) I read from when I tour for the book.

Alethea, I read that same poem with which you closed your story, and boy did I relate to it! I'm a night owl but have also done some pre-dawn into dawn writing. Almost never in midday--too much going on. I liked your subterranean analogy, as well as the implication that there might be something a bit subversive or illegal about writing down our thoughts when we're supposed to be sleeping like everyone else. I relate to that, too. Did you ever walk outside and just take some deep breaths and look around the neighborhood and up at the sky and feel that you're the only person on the planet who's up writing at that time? It's, strangely, a nice feeling.

Nice job of work, as we used to say on the night shift at a newspaper where I got off at 5 a.m., which was two hours after we started drinking at the Boul Mich across the street. Not only did I love your essay, but late tonight or early tomorrow I'm going online to order your book. Thanks.

I really liked it, and I appreciate how you haven't been judgmental, or defend your nocturnal nature by thinking of yourself as more creative than "larks."