Over the years, I have come to realize that I work best under pressure. My most productive hours tend to be late in the evening, when the library is usually fairly deserted and the college is peaceful and quiet. If the hours of the day aren’t enough, I’d retire to bed early and wake up in the last third of the night to catch up on some writing.
The luxury of having the space and time to write and reflect is great for capturing inspiration in the dead of the night. But sometimes I find that I also write best in a slightly different mood: one afternoon, I ended a conversation with a friend in anger. I returned to my desk at the library, to the hitherto sparsely-filled Word document where I was battling with a writer’s block, and found myself driven to write by a furious rage such that I’ve never felt before. By the end of the night, this writing frenzy culminated in a chapter reaching close to 8,000 words — still very much in progress, but a progress nevertheless.
I don’t quite know how to coddle myself. What I do know is that when I am filled with emotions of such force and intensity, I try to channel these towards a productive endeavor that would allow me to gain from, rather than lose myself in them. To me, writing is so much more than the relationship between your pen and paper; it is a negotiation between the mind and the self and external forces that could shape your thoughts and ideas in productive or destructive ways. And the challenge is to stay alive and survive this crossfire.
While on the HMS Belfast on the Thames, I couldn’t help but reflect on what it might feel like to prepare to go into actual battle, where your very own life is at stake ⚔️