Last night, right before falling asleep, I had a moment when I realized that I was about to lose an idea for a poem. As I was falling asleep, a line came to me so clearly that I tried to repeat it to myself so that I didn’t lose it. But based on past performance, this practice is not actually all that effective: a dream would pass through my brain and eliminate that single line, and it would be gone forever. I knew that I had to write it down.
So I picked up my phone, jotted down a few words in a note, and then put my phone back on my nightstand, falling asleep almost immediately.
This morning, I remember remembering my dream when I woke up, but I don’t remember the dream itself now. I got out of bed, changed into different clothes for the day, started organizing and planning my time, and then looked at the note in my phone, ready to jumpstart a poem.
And I have no idea what the hell I meant. It’s not a funny mashup of words, as I’ve seen so often on Twitter from other writers who have done the same hurried-writing-down-before-bed. It’s just a phrase: “Unglamorous growing pains.”
I thought I could maybe reverse engineer this somehow. I remember, clearly, before falling asleep that I would have been able to retrace my steps. I remember thinking that this idea was borne from a path that my mind has been walking a lot lately. I remember thinking that, even if I didn’t write this down right now, I would have arrived at this idea anyway. But now, in the morning with the endpoint but not the path, I have no idea where I was going, where I was coming from.
Maybe this will come back to me some time during the day.
Has this ever happened to you? Even when you’ve written down your brilliant idea before bed, it’s been snatched from you anyway? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to commiserate.
Header image is from August 2019.