William Faulkner’s Typewriter at Rowan Oak in Oxford, MS
When I was an Ole Miss coed, my job was that of curating at the William Faulkner house, Rowan Oak in Oxford. I was taught several facts to recite about the way that Faulkner lived and worked in Mississippi, and one story that that I often recall is that Faulkner was a light–perhaps even a fitful sleeper. His stories often came to him at bedtime, and he would get up out of bed and type the night away.
While I am not Faulkner, my best writing ideas also come to me at bedtime or immediately after I awake.
On Silver Sheets, I Sail
by Jacki Kellum
Just before I open my eyes
I float along the misty skies.
I reach, I feel the soft, white hair
and fairy wings that flutter there.
I listen, I hear the slumber song,
The angel band that plays along
My dreams are in my pillow-pail.
On silver sheets, I sail.
©Jacki Kellum December 16, 2015 [On Silver Sheets, I Sail]
When I am totally involved with my writing, I am 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.
During the fall, 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.
by Jacki Kellum
Cool and damp,
Last night, I heard
©Jacki Kellum October 9, 2016 [October Song]
What I was thinking before I slept often revisits me during the night.During this same period, I awoke from a nap with the following 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.
©Jacki Kellum October 11, 2015 [Long, Autumn Nap]
Sometimes, Muse does not seem to be related to sleep. It seems to have more to do with freshly awakening from sleep.
Later in October, 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:
A 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.
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.
©Jacki Kellum October 28, 2015 [Hazy Autumn Moon]
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 was 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.
Several great articles attempt to explain how bedtime and sleeping affect us, as we create. I certainly have no scholarship to add to the brew, but I am sure that sleeping and my art are linked.
©Jacki Kellum April 12, 2016
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