Friday, September 23, 2011

A moment alone in the darkness

It was well before dawn today when I quietly picked up my Mac and tiptoed downstairs. It's a ritual I often follow now that I'm balancing full-time 9-to-5 work with life as an independent tech journalist. If I'm going to write on my own time, it'll usually be when the sky is dark and the rest of the house is quiet.

Indeed, on this morning, even the dog didn't stir as I headed to the kitchen for some quality time with my keyboard. As much as I treasure my sleep, I admit I really enjoy these early morning writing jags. I know what I need to do and how much time I've got to get it done. My phone isn't ringing and folks I thought I left behind after high school aren't trying to IM me. I'm not even remotely close to being a loner, but I like the thought of being awake when no one else is. And I like ripping through whatever's on the docket so I can tiptoe back upstairs for a few more zees before the rest of the house stirs.

This morning was different. In the back of my mind, I knew this wasn't going to be my best writer's session. My mind weighed heavy with the significance of the day, and I wasn't sure I had enough in the tank to set the sadness aside and let the writer's muse take over. I didn't think I'd be able to get myself into that zone of sorts where the words just tumble out of my head and through my fingers. All I could think of was my father, and how incomprehensible it seemed that two years had already gone by since we lost him.

I looked at the clocks on the stove, the coffee machine and my BlackBerry. All moving forward, as they always had. Unfeeling pieces of technology ticking silently toward an unseen deadline, they didn't much care that today was different for me. They didn't much care that this whole life-of-a-writer thing of mine had been rekindled a decade ago, in the early morning gloom as I flew back home to be there for another of my father's surgeries, with my fingers dancing across the keys of some long-since-disposed laptop. They didn't much care that that moment, so similar to this one, became the first of many newspaper columns that helped me find my writer's voice and ultimately reignited my passion for the craft.

All that mattered was what came next, that an empty screen sat in front of me and was waiting to be filled.

So I wrote. And the muse woke up and sent the right words in the right order through my fingers and into the backlit keyboard. And for the 45 or so minutes it took me to hit word count and shape the piece for submission, the darkness of the day didn't matter. I wrote like I always had, focused on the one thing that matters to everyone who trades words for opportunity: Finishing.

And when I did, I clicked Send, then softly closed my laptop's lid and padded silently back to our room. As I got to the bottom of the stairs, the first slivers of blue morning light were already working their way through the window.

I woke up this morning unsure of how I should mark the day, or whether I should even be marking it at all. But as I thought about the words that were now floating into a faraway editor's inbox, I realized I had already marked it in the most appropriate way possible. My writing had always been so closely tied to my father's life that it seemed somewhat right to have closed the loop in the darkness of my kitchen.

Although he's no longer around to read the words, it felt cathartic to have written them on this morning, and to have set the stage for so many more mornings like this one in the months and years ahead.

7 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

It (writing) is definitely cathartic.. I was told to write 'letters' to whoever I may have unresolved issues with... Even if they go undelivered the writing helps me find answers and relieves whatever unsettling feelings I may have.. I know your Dad feels whatever you are writing or feeling..

Max said...

Beautiful post. Full of imagery and emotion. Just beautiful.

Karen S. said...

...such wise soft words outlined in peace......

Michael Manning said...

This is a wonderful and heartfelt tribute to the soul of your Dad, Carmi. How well I too relate, as my father lives in my heart when I write, broadcast, laugh and live. This is a powerful post that reached me!

lailani said...

Such a tribute! Wonderfully written, thank you for sharing!

Alexia said...

A beautiful post. I remember the tears that came to my eyes when I read last year's post about your father. This is lovely.

Titanium said...

Beautiful words, Carmi. This hits so close to home, as this week is the first anniversary of the loss of my husband's father. Thinking of all the things spoken and unspoken, it is so good to be here and read these words of yours.