I went to college at Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi, and during part of that time, I worked as a Curator at William Faulkner’s house Roanoke. In learning what to say to visitors, I discovered much about Faulkner’s work habits.
It was not uncommon for William Faulkner to wake up during the night and be filled with a writing idea. He would subsequently spend the rest of that night pursuing the thought that had struck him, immediately upon awakening.
When I am totally involved with my writing, I am also frequently awakened with a flash of insight. The flash is often about something that I had been writing before I went to sleep, but sometimes I am simply awe-struck about what is around me. When the window is open and I can hear the crickets or the rain outside or when a breeze is fluttering past me in my bed, I am often inspired by nature.
A couple of weeks ago, I was taking a WordPress Poetry Class, and when I went to bed, I had poetry on my brain. About midway through the night, I was awakened. The air had just begun to take on a damp, autumn chill; and my window was opened. There was a breeze, and I was able to formulate the following short poem in response to my first impression.
Ode to an October Night
by Jacki Kellum
Cool and damp,
Last night I heard your Hallo-song.
copyright Jacki Kellum October 9, 2015
During that same period, I awoke from a nap with this thought:
The Long, Autumn Nap
by Jacki Kellum
I just took a nap for my mind, to see–
For flickering fae breath to come set me free.
I’m in a place where I want to be
Singing a soft, silver song.
Visions of sugarplums visited me
Moonbeams and crystal shards lit up the sea
Soft webs and angel hair strung by a flea
Toy-tugged my leaf-boat along.
Copyright Jacki Kellum October 11, 2015
Just a few evenings ago, my dog woke me; and I stumbled downstairs to let her out. As I stood at the garden door, I was enchanted by the misty, chalky moon that hung in the sky and was prompted to write the following:
Full, But Hazy Autumn Moon
by Jacki Kellum
Tonight, the moon is perched high in the sky, directly above the garden–just outside my back door.
Tonight, when I first got downstairs and looked out the sunroom window, my first thought was that it must be the moments just before dawn.
Everything around was fairly brightly lit and the plants that were still brave enough to have continued blooming, after the cool, October air had tucked their neighbors into bed, had a soft, muted, and faintly-colored glow.
As I looked around, I thought: Tonight, the moonlight is bright, but this is not one of those hot-light nights like the ones when I used to walk home from church, well after sunset, and the hum of the locusts was so loud that the air seemed to rattle along.
And tonight is not one of those nights when ladies in the church would beat around their faces with cardboard fans that had Jesus painted on them, flapping about their heads like hummingbird wings.
Yes, Lord, tonight’s moonlight is not like that when I used to go to the tent revivals with my grandmother and stand up and sit down, singing Shall We Gather at the River, beneath the bare light bulbs that were strung across the top of the tent and dangled.
Tonight’s light is not like that of the summer nights when the neighborhood children and I would dart about the yard, playing tag and hide and seek, running until the sweat could be wrung from our clothes. On those nights, nothing brought more relief than crescents of ice, cold watermelon; homemade ice cream; and tart lemonade poured from large, sweaty glass jars, into rainbow-colored glasses that clinked when they met my teeth. The glasses tasted like aluminum.
No, tonight there is no hot, blaring, bugle-like, jazz-singing summer moon.
Tonight, there is a soft, hazy autumn moon–a cornstarch moon–kissed by honey, hanging in the dark.
Copyright Jacki Kellum October 28, 2015
Several Things Came Together for the Creating of the Above Poem
The poetry class had ended a few days prior to that time, and I was still thinking poetically.
I am well into the writing of my memoir, and thoughts of my childhood are raining on me.
I was freshly awakened.
And the natural world was doing something to make an impact on me.
On the other hand, this morning, my alarm clock shrieked at me and jolted me awake.
That kind of alarm-clock-jolting does not awaken me, feeling poetic. On those mornings, I merely want to curse and stomp on my alarm clock. My first thought this morning was that I hated my alarm clock. My second thought was that I hate to work for a living. And then I recalled that because I work, I have $500 in my purse. I remembered that I need a new muffler and that one of my tail lights is broken. I remembered that my hair is long overdue for a coloring and that I am living without a kitchen. My fourth thought was, “Thank you, God, for continuing to find me work.”
My fifth thought was, “Thank you, God, for giving me both–a mind that can be awakened into visions of sugar plums and an ability to function in the real world–if only barely, at that.
Copyright Jacki Kellum October 30, 2015
All Rights Reserved
Here is a good article that explains why our best ideas come to us after sleeping: https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-best-time-to-write-and-get-ideas
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Comedy of Errors (and bonus assignment!).”