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Camille Pissarro: Boulevard Montmartre in Paris (1897)

“I wrote it so that I would know what I was thinking.”

My work’s signature element must be that I engage in it almost exclusively in the wee hours. I’m a MidnightCreeper. I might forgive anyone for believing that I’m a little shy about my profession, for I engage in it so damned stealthily. Aside from the fact that I’ve lately, since reinhabiting our Villa Vatta Schmaltz, taken to writing in perhaps the most exposing window in the place, I remain terribly private and secretive about my practice. Few pass by to spot me writing in my wee hours and even then, I most often write in near total darkness, my desk only illuminated by the faint glow my laptop screen makes, my eyes dilated like a lemur’s, my silhouette essentially invisible from out there.

I remain rather embarrassed by my peculiar practice, which I think of more as ablution than actual profession.
I feel that I need my early morning ritual in order to keep body and soul together, in order to maintain what remains of my sanity. I remember quite clearly when I took up this MidnightCreeping practice. It occurred to me when I first started meditating that if I really intended to maintain it as a daily practice, it would mean my rising earlier than usual, so that I could dispense with that business before the day’s work called me away. So I started rising about an hour early so that I wouldn’t miss that practice. This fairly quickly turned into a habit, one I would not willingly forfeit. While I had formerly been more of a midnight oil burning sort of person, I began MidnightCreeping, too, maintaining both practices, adapting to living with less sleep as a result.

When I started writing, I just added that to my existing morning ritual, a seemingly natural projection, and I gave up my midnight oil burning. Writing amounted to more than an odd half hour ritual, though, and demanded a couple of hours of focused attention to accomplish much of anything, so rather than rising an hour early, I commenced to rising by four-thirty to provide adequate time for me to engage in my additional obsession each morning. My day has been starting that early for nearly fifty years now, though recent years have seen me starting my days even earlier, often by two or three. The Muse thinks this habit just crazy, and believes it rather silly of me. I no longer have to rush off to an office and so I could shift my writing practice to later in the morning, but I retain this sense that I must dispatch it before sunrise, in secret, which, come to think of it, does seem rather silly, doesn’t it? I mean, the first thing I do after finishing up my morning’s work tends to be that I post it, hardly a private matter.

As a part of my Reconning work, I find myself reconsidering this grand and secretive obsession of mine, this MidnightCreeping profession. Is this practice sustainable going forward or does it belong to one of those vanities of youth like staying up past bedtime or jogging, stuff an aging practitioner might be better served suspending? I’m just asking, for I’ve always felt a personal pride in my practice along with that certain embarrassment. I consider my meditating, after nearly fifty years of daily practice, a stealthy secret weapon, whether or not it actually imparts any real advantage. It has not brought me greater intelligence or wisdom, or even greater mindfulness, but then none of those states are certifiable since I have nothing with which to compare my experience, no status quo state benchmark alternative.

Likewise, I consider my stealth an essential element of my writing practice. I’ve heard tell of some people engaging in pair writing, where two or more writers collaborate on a piece, and I cannot countenance this practice. It seems an unthinkable violation. Writing to me results from deep introspection, definitely not a spectator or a collaborative sport. It’s lonely work, and nothing which deserves to be done in daylight. It’s first rather an embarrassment. Should I finish a piece, it sheds some shame. I post results with deep misgivings, wondering if I’ve disclosed to much or too little. This piece was a product of MidnightCreeping. I wrote it so that I would know what I was thinking.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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