Swing shift blues

Can working odd hours be good for your writing? I am currently working on a novel and a collection of selected poems that I start each day right after I finish this nonsense. And then I try to scrounge some paying work. Then I eat dinner and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Rinse and repeat. And there’s NO WAY IN HELL I could do this while working a day shift, nevermind a swing.

I won’t work the swing shift forever. I’m tired; my brain is ragged from writing all morning and then reading and editing all night. I tell people that my inner thesaurus is broken because, after a long week, I struggle to come up with the right word in conversations: “story” becomes “episode,” “football” becomes “baseball,” my boss becomes “mom.” Sometimes I say words incorrectly, mashing two nouns together to create a hideous new portmanteau. Sometimes I call a coworker the wrong name and don’t notice until someone else laughs. My head is a cage for too many words, too many thoughts about the power and different usages of language. It’s difficult to toggle back and forth between my adjective-rich personal writing and the clipped newsroom-ese of my work. It’s difficult to have an idea for a story and not be able to even make notes for it because newsroom deadlines are always looming and we’re all just trying to write the best headlines we can in the little time we have.

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