The Overnight

I remember reading about how author John Grisham was able to compose his first novels, while still working full-time as a defence counsel–as well as, I now understand, a modestly-paid ($8,000 per year) legislator in the State of Mississippi. He would write every day, from 5 to 7 a.m., and then start everything else.

At various points, I have found that blocking out significant periods of time, at night, away from the general workday, becomes the only way to accomplish much that may relate to the work, but is otherwise impeded by it. Grisham initially regarded his writing as a hobby, but nonetheless felt compelled to set aside a specific time each day, away from everything else, to pursue the “novel hobby” to a completed state.

I didn’t write from 5 to 7 a.m.; I wrote overnight, generally commencing around 10 or 11. Most of this in relation to writing the second and third (and final) draft of the doctoral dissertation. Most of this during 1992-1993, my first of two years teaching at the business school of Wilfrid Laurier University. Many of my teaching classes were in the evening, ending at 10 p.m.. I would then go back to my office and write as much as I could, between then and 7 a.m., when I would take a bus back to my apartment. Wake up at 2 p.m., back to the university by 4 and commence the same pattern. Used to go to a nearby pizza place to get one of those rip out your sinuses spiced up numbers, to keep going when things started to flag around 3 or 4 a.m.. Cranking up an Iggy Pop cassette, Instinct, when more jump was needed, balanced by a more melodic one by Ian Lloyd and Fast Forward.

Suddenly, it was done. Would not likely have been completed otherwise, which would have placed me in the 80% “A.B.D.” (All But Dissertation) statistics at the time.

So what? Well, one ends up being able to go through life believing (or perhaps fantasizing) that somewhere, at some time, a significant contribution to knowledge was made. John Grisham can say he wrote some important novels. Very different takes and scales, but I imagine we share a similar sense of accomplishment, at least with respect to the first one.

Iggy Pop: “Cold Metal”

Ian Lloyd and Fast Forward: “Play to Win”

About brucelarochelle
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2 Responses to The Overnight

  1. On May 29, 2012, Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):

    I wonder if I might have been happier writing novels, like Grisham, rather than a doctoral dissertation. One becomes a bit ghettoized, with too much education.

  2. On September 25, 2012, a friend commented as follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission and preferred identification):

    About the night time, it is narrated that there are lots of blessings in these times.

    On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Our Lord (glorified and exalted be He) descends each night to the earth’s sky when there remains the final third of the night, and He says: ‘Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?'” [Bukhari)

    About the morning, the Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) prayed, “Oh Allah, give barakah to my Ummah in their early morning work.” [Ibn Majah, Sunan]”

    Barakah” is a term that means an “increase” and “growth”- and, also, happiness. It is the establishment of divine goodness in something; from whence it exudes cannot be sensed by people, nor can it be outwardly quantified, nor is it limited by anything, but rather, something with barakah in it is called mubaarak, and has an unexplainable increase and benefit in it from Allah. [al-Isfahani, Mufradat al-Qur’an]

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