Shaun Levin

Light and Night

In Writing on August 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm

This was written on Saturday, just before the London riots began, before the nights brought stories of their own.

Writers need the dark and painters need light. Or: Name a painter who worked at night. Painters need light to see; writers seem to need the night for that. Light is not an inspiration for writers, not on the whole. Bomberg went in search of light. Wherever he went it was to find the perfect light to paint in… whether to the Cairngorms, to Cornwall, to Palestine for a few years, to Ronda on and off until eventually he settled there. If anything, he was a painter who needed light.

I am grateful for the night. The time when everyone is sleeping, when nothing can interrupt a train of thought, when you don’t have to come up with techniques to block out sounds and expectations and distractions. You can own the night. And maybe this is connected to the dreamspace, to touching the subconscious. The further you go into the night, the more chance you have of bringing something back from the underworld. Gifts. Magic. Answers.

Have you ever seen a writer standing in the middle of a wheat field with a notebook in hand?

Stories happen at night. Around a fire. Candles burning. Daytime is for productivity. I write mainly during the day. Mainly in the morning, just on the other side of the dreamspace. The novel needs productivity, perhaps. Needs the light. But it’s more about the light of the subconscious, the light of continuity… because when painters work on a specific painting, a landscape in particular, they need the light itself to be consistent, yet the undertaking of a novel, even a short story, cannot rely on the same light for months or years on end. But maybe it does. And that light is not a physical light. It’s more about faith. The light of believing in a project.

Nightime feels infinite, because in the end you will eventually go to sleep. With the day there is lunchtime, there is a phone that will ring, a postman who will knock. But with the night you will be eased into the dreamspace, which is infinite. Writing is a retreat from the world, and that is easier to do at night. No one expects you to be available at night. And yet a painter at work during the day is clearly doing something… it is easier to leave a painter alone. A writer at a desk does not seem as occupied as a painter in a wheat-field. Don’t disturb the painter until the light begins to fade.

The light at night is more reliable, more consistent than the light during the day.

  1. I love how you played with the words and the cadence of the whole post.

  2. You know, I relate writing all the time with an artists ability to create. We are such similiar creatures in so many ways…our goal is to convey emotion and imagery through our works…I feel as writer that this is my goal…my objective…my ultimate ending as a say that one person could feel as I felt or could really see what I wanted them to see, and know that my words had that power in them…it is an intoxicating thing being a writer…always reaching further into ourselves and letting people jump further down the rabbit hole of our minds…this is exciting for me and I’m sure for many writers…baring our souls…or just having the ability to leave an impression through the written word. I personally am a night writer…something about the silence of the darkness motivates me…there are times when I can write during the day, but only if it’s raining or dull…never on a beautiful day…odd? possibly…but I think we all as writers create the dynamic of our work environment to suit our creative flow…I love this post and it’s relevance to the life of a writer and I will be following and comparing thoughts with you in the Land of Blog…


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