• Anna Gates Ha

Morning Words and Magic


My morning desk mate.

In the early morning, the summer air is magnanimously cool. I rise before anyone else is awake. I sit on my little cushion, close my eyes, try to fold myself into the pocket of time created by my breath.


The cats paw at me. They love my new crepuscular habit. By the time I make it to my desk, one is lying on my chair, and the other is lying on my laptop, ready to pace back and forth across the keys when I lift up the screen. I scratch their chins. I offer them poetry books in exchange for my laptop. (They don’t go for it. They want to walk on the keys.)


When I finally lure them away with food, I put my fingers on the letters and look up to the little corner of window above my desk. There is a mess of blackberries out there, and right now, there are some ripe black ones mixed in with the hard red and green ones. There is one thorny branch that reaches up to the top of the fence in an arch. The leaves extend from the branch like birds in flight. I watch them for a minute. I try to clear my mind of words. And then, I try to listen.


There is something magical about writing in the early morning. I think it has something to do with the stillness, the wordlessness, of the world. It’s as if, in this quiet space, the characters whose stories I’ve been pulled to write are suddenly free to speak.


I’ve been trying to tap into this state of wordlessness (as Martha Beck calls it) as much as I can. It might sound counter intuitive to get into a state of wordlessness before you set out to create words, but bear with me. Writing is an act of the imagination, and our imagination, when it’s working well, is an act of the right hemisphere of our brain. That’s the part that makes metaphors. The part that forgets about the to-do list and sees the world with wonder. I think it’s important to get into this state as much as possible if I want my words to have any weight (the kind of weight that connects to others, not the kind that weighs you down.)


Some mornings, my four-year-old wakes as soon as I sit down at my desk. Some mornings, nothing comes, at all. My fingers feel like roadkill. I read something instead.


But some mornings, the words run like honey, and it's as if I’m sitting with my narrator, pouring tea.


It’s just writing, but it feels like magic.

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