Okay--here's the thing. I'm a writer who gets these creative and often inspirational urges between midnight and dawn. I'm talking writing stuff of course. I had read Katherine Gregor's Red Room blog on hand-writing and felt a kinship to her because I also use pen and pad, often in the dark. Why in the dark? Because if I took those few seconds to turn the light on and let my eyes get adjusted, I'd lose those fleeting moments of creative inspiration. Let me give you some examples.
I had been stuck on a "grab-ya" opening for an article I was writing before I went to bed that night. The sub-conscience works in mysterious ways because at 2:37 a.m., (I checked the time), the perfect opening sentence jumped into my mind. I groped for pen and pad, scribbled down my sentence without opening my eyes or the bedside light and went back to sleep. Feeling pleased with myself in the morning, I checked my notepad to see what I had written because one's memory of that perfect grab-ya sentence can be less perfect in the daylight. Sure enough, the scribbled squiggles took a lot of deciphering and squinting. The opening sentence was definitely creative but I didn't use it because I'm sure I didn't intend to describe the colorful folk-art as "colossal cabbages of bathroom art."
Another time I went to bed worrying over the ending to a short story. What I had, seemed too contrived and my alternative ending, seemed too farfetched. Sure enough, at 3:40 a.m., I found myself groping for pen and pad. With eyes closed and scribbling madly in the dark, I wrote out the perfect ending. The next morning I read what I had written. It probably was a perfect ending but I couldn't read the overlapping squiggles that ran off the page and onto my pillow.
I decided the solution to my problem couldn't be as simple as turning the light on. Instead, I decided my notepad was too small. If I had a larger notepad, my hand writing would have more room to spread making it easier to read by morning light. My other thought was to jot down only the key words which would joggle my memory into remembering the solution. So far, these changes have helped half the time in recovering whatever night-time thoughts I had in the wee hours of the morning. The other half of the time, it has been a challenge.
Most times I do carry a pen and pad. I like best to write down tantalizing bits of overheard conversations, random descriptions of people I've encountered in my day or in my ramblings through art galleries, coffee bars, shops, farmers' markets, etc. It's immensely helpful to have pen and paper to jot down stuff that could be fodder for future stories. The other day, one of my colleagues suggested a pocket recorder. I didn't want to tell him that I had tried this. Instead of 'playing' what I had dictated, I had accidently pressed 'delete' and erased everything!
Besides, browsing through a number of newspapers in the Public Library, where else can I find memorable bits and pieces that I can write in my notepad. I just know that the person who wrote this ad must have a heck of a story to tell: "SWAP unused Size 2 wedding gown and pastel bridesmaid dresses for 12-gauge shotgun. Contact J.P. Lange Box 412 c/oThis Newspaper."