Since retiring a few years ago, I have found that keeping to a schedule isn’t so important anymore. I still make it a point to show up at the appointed time for doctors’ appointments, classes and meals in the dining room. But now I have total freedom to decide when to do household chores, socialize with friends and go to sleep.

Alexa confirms Brenda E. Smith’s love of late-night wordsmithery. Photo by Brenda E. Smith

To fill my newfound leisure time, I find writing brings me enjoyment. By experimenting with writing at different times of the day, I’ve determined that words spill out of my brain into documents best at night – actually, late at night, because of the absence of distractions. In my apartment complex, all the other retirees are in bed by 9 p.m. The building is silent. Incoming calls on my phone stop at 9 p.m., too, because the people who would call me are mostly those people who’ve gone to bed. Emails, text messages and weather alerts, with their annoying notification pings, stop arriving by 10 p.m. That’s also when Google makes their last update of breaking stories for the day. By 11 p.m., TV stops broadcasting prime-time shows worthy of watching. Once the day’s bombardment of diversions ceases, the time for writing has arrived.

That’s when my I plop into my comfy desk chair, open my computer and allow ideas to flow from my brain down through my fingers tapping on the keyboard to appear as text in a Word document. With nothing to distract my train of thought, I lose myself in the story I am creating. Five minutes can easily tick by while I’m searching for a perfect word to convey a thought. Using the Control X and Control V keys, I can rearrange the sequence of words in a sentence until the flow is silky smooth. If a word or phrase doesn’t sound right, I highlight them, then tap the delete key. I occasionally glance at my Alexa monitor to track how quickly the night is passing. Between 2 a,m. and 3 a.m., I’m fully engaged and my word count is growing effortlessly. Around 4 a.m., I reluctantly consider calling it a night so I can get my needed six hours of sleep and be up by 10 a.m.

A few days ago, I found that at 4 a.m., a heartbreaking story was pouring out of me. I didn’t want to lose the emotional fervor of the moment, so I kept writing. When I finally reached a point where I could leave my essay to mature while I slept, I closed my computer and twirled my chair away from my desk. Outside, the sky and clouds over Penobscot Bay were brightening with pastel pinks and oranges. I checked the time. It was a few minutes before the 5 a.m. sunrise. Grateful for a productive night of writing, I sat there mesmerized by the sight of the sun crawling up out of the bay. Finally, I blew the sun a kiss good morning and climbed into bed.

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