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Writing for Life

October 21, 2005

When I can’t sleep, I write. It helps sort out things that I don’t know what to make of. Midnight writing, for me, is a creative antidote to dreaming, which often is bizarre and disturbing.

This writing is exploratory, rummaging through foggy swirls of emotions, thoughts, experiences. Sometimes I write to clarify something, to discover what I think. Sometimes I write to get through the night—to find a sparkle of interest to spark some reason why I should bother getting up in the morning.

When my mind draws a blank, I ransack favorite authors, forgotten authors, authors I never cared for but are beloved by others, seeking some inspiration. And so the other night I checked out Tolkien. A dear friend raves over this melancholy maker of Anglo-Saxon mythology.

On poemhunter.com, I stumbled across a Tolkien poem that made me want to jump up and write something! The poem is titled “I Sit and Think.” These verses hit me like silver shafts of moonlight on a stormy night:

“I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall never see…

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know…”

It’s a morose poem—Tolkien was a World War I veteran whose friends died on muddy battlefields—and yet conveys, to me, wonderful concern about the future for people we shall never see. I’ll bet he wrote it in the middle of a dark night.

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