Someone recently asked me how I started to write.
I was already a night owl before I opened the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House almost 20 years ago. Opening the Inn had been precipitated by a move “back home” to a town of 1000 people after 11 years in bustling Colorado Springs, CO.
Opening the Inn, establishing a business, training new employees, sustaining financial credibility, and everything else that went along with being a first time business owner sapped my strength, sucked the life out of my relationships, and took 16 out of every 24 hours. I loved what I was doing, there was just no time for anything else.
I was working every night until 10 pm – my night owl tendency’s worsened. Probably not a good thing for the owner of a bed and BREAKFAST. I was soon exhausted – between checking in honeymooners at 2 am and serving breakfast to business travelers at 6 am.
My “home” was in the basement of the Blue Belle, so I never really went home from work, but when I went downstairs at the end of the night, I was tired. But just because it was bedtime didn’t mean I could go to sleep. Like anyone, I came home from work pumped up with adrenalin, sometimes frustrated, sometimes happy, charged and ready to go after flying around, being busy for hours – I needed to talk to someone, to vent, to spend a few hours unwinding before I could go to sleep.
Problem is, who do you call to talk to at that time of night? (No one – they’re all asleep.) Where do you go if you feel like doing something, or need to run errands (Nowhere – everything is closed.) So what’s a person to do? Sometimes life thrusts you into situations where you’re forced to to adapt. I did. I started writing. Late into the night.
My first published book, Night and Day (it’s midnight in Minnesota and daybreak in Denmark), was no mistake.
When the internet caught on, I made friends in every corner of the world – friends who were on the same schedule I was. While my real-life friends and family slept, I carried on a “imaginary life” with my online friends. And I wrote. In essence, I made up a few dozen “imaginary friends” and started writing about what was going on in their lives, weaving them together into relationships, imagining “what if” – and writing about it.
A friend of mine, Deborah Scafferi Rohne, writes a blog called “Life Is Too Short to Fold Underwear”. In her latest entry, she writes that life is too short to sleep when everyone else is awake. Her theory is that you miss out on too much when your schedule is contrary to the rest of the world’s. She is absolutely right. In my case, however, I wasn’t sleeping when everyone else was awake, I was working. And when everyone else was asleep, I was living – and writing – and engaging and interacting with my imaginary friends.
In my case, my imaginary, after-hours, everybody-else-I-know-is-sound-asleep world changed my real life.
And twenty years later? I work less (well, sometimes), play more (okay, occasionally), and have better relationship in the real world (with at least a few people – I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 7 years now). I still have many friends online who inspire, encourage, and cheer me on. I try to find a good balance, which is probably the key to everything in life.
And then, irony of ironies, when I hit 51, my body clock started to change. Suddenly, I found myself falling asleep in front of my computer at 9 pm. My most prolific hours – 10 pm to 2 pm, found me zombie-like and bobbing my head in front of the words on my screen. After finally giving up and succumbing to sleep, I would wake up at 6 am. But I wasn’t productive, I was crabby.
So. . . such is life. I’m trying to adapt – again, carve out a new niche in my busy schedule for my writing, make time for me and my imaginary friends, and still get a good night’s sleep! And guess when this was written? 6:30 am.