I Crow for the Cock

I am usually awake before 4:30 AM. I developed this habit during the National Novel Writing Month in November 2009. I had to.

I teach high school senior English as well as Comparative Mythology and Speculative Fiction.

Plus, I teach a freshman composition class at the local junior college.

I don’t have much spare time.

I’ve tried writing when I get home after school, but it’s a pain in the ass.

My brain is fried by the end of the day. I’m physically and mentally exhausted from dealing with hundreds of high school seniors who would rather do anything but study Hamlet or write documented essays or even bring a pencil to class.

The administration is only interested in holding me accountable that every student meets the minimum state requirement for graduation—those very students who think I’m something of a taskmaster for requiring them to bring a pencil to class.

It’s as though someone has attached a set of jumper cables to the left and right sides of my brain and then drained all the emotional, creative, physical, and spiritual energy out of me.

So, as NaNoWriMo 2009 approached, I determined I would get up early to write before heading off to Placebo High and then use the evening for revisions, some writing, and planning out the next scene in my story.

It worked. I wrote over 67,000 words in 30 days.

Now I’m in a massive revision phase while getting my next story underway.

I have three morning alarms.

The digital clock with the red-lit numbers is set 20 minutes faster than American Central Time, and although the clock’s face reads 4:20 when the radio alarm sounds, it’s really only 4 AM. I usually hit the 9-minute snooze twice before finally getting up.

I’ve notice lately, though, I’ve been getting up when the alarm sounds the first time.

My second alarm comes from my cell phone. Set at the correct time, it chimes at 4:30 AM—Pachelbel’s Canon in D major. This composition is one of my favorite tunes, and hearing it five mornings a week sets my mood for taking on the writing task at hand.

I usually read my subscribed blogs first, check the news, check the emails, and let my mind and body adjust to wakefulness.

I’ve thought about adding some morning exercises to my routine, but one thing at a time.

Then I write. Usually until 6:30 AM. That’s when the third alarm sounds to remind me I have a daytime job for which I need to prepare.

I laugh at my students who drag themselves into my morning classes, who are tired from having played video games until 4:30 AM. I am proud to boast to them that I was getting up to start my day when they were going to bed.

A few weeks ago I had to get up at 3:30 AM as I had rough drafts of senior research papers to read through, and I didn’t want to take time away from my writing.

“My God,” a fellow teacher said to me. “Why in Hell do you get up so early?”

My simple answer: “My greatest nightmare is that when I retire from teaching I find myself wearing a blue vest with a name tag IDing myself as ‘Mike’ and saying to the kids that come through the door, ‘Would like a smiley face sticker, little girl?'”

To me, some things in life are much worse than getting up at 4 AM to fulfill my life’s desire of writing.

Someone has chickens not far from my house. About an hour after I have already started my day, I hear the cock crow.

I just smile.

For whom does the Cock crow? Not for me. I crow for the Cock.

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