The Night Shift

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far, away, I knew how to work the night shift.

Oh, it wasn’t much. Just a few nights, sitting up with a fellow student, doing treatments, checking patients, and helping with emergencies. It was kind of fun. Boring most of the time, with moments of excitement, but in general, it was often a good time to catch up on thinking.

There was seldom enough time to read or write anything, and of course, sleeping wasn’t happening, but there was a lot of time to grab a few moments and think about the story I’d started late in my third year, a story that went on to be Ironsfork. So much thinking.

About a week ago, one of my puppers started having symptoms that necessitated me getting up multiple times a night with her. After struggling with this for about three days, I made the decision that for the time being, until she’s well, I had just better stay up all night. When nine rolls around, I give her the insulin she needs, and my shift starts. At nine the next morning, she gets her second shot, and I go to bed with the sun and the birds.

Some things I’ve discovered:

  1. I’m not the night owl I once was.
  2. The wee small hours of the night are still a great time to think.

In the last week, I wrote 25,000 words, most of them between 3-5. I’ve curled up on the couch with my cats between checking on my pup, and read two books. It gets very, very quiet in the house. The only sound is sleeping animals and the occasional bubble of the tea kettle about to boil. And I can hear myself think.

Maybe they aren’t great thoughts. But when the mind is tired, the body too, sometimes the most interesting connections between stories, characters, and plot events seem to collide in new and impossible ways.

I’m looking forward to sleeping at night again, hopefully in a few weeks once things have stabilized with the pup. I’m very tired, very sleepy, and my temper is always set to flammable these days. But it’s nice to see that some things haven’t suffered as much. My imagination, at least, seems to like the night shift.

Million Word Madness: 25,325

Update for January: 93,677 words

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