Posted by jmdattilo
What do owls and larks have to do with writing? Well, when you are two authors writing under one pen name and one of you is an owl and the other a lark, finding the perfect time for writing sessions can be challenging.
For those who are wondering what we mean by owls and larks, we are referring to people who like to stay up late (owls) and those who like to get up early (larks). It’s annoying enough if you happen to be an owl married to a lark (or vice-versa) but things really get frustrating when owls and larks try to work together.
From an owl’s point of view, larks are those annoying creatures who rise and shine with smiles on their faces and a song on their lips. Very painful for any nearby owls who can’t help wondering what the irritating lark can possibly be so cheerful about at such an ungodly hour of the day. Larks think nothing of awakening an owl just as the sun is rising, eager to relate the fantastic plot idea they had during the night. Larks have the mysterious ability to wake up with their brains fully functioning. No warm-up time seems to be required. Owls just can’t relate.
A writing lark will often fly out of bed and head straight for the computer. The bubbly, oh, so sickeningly alert lark will then proceed to check all social networking sites, email accounts, etc., and call out interesting tidbits to the owl sleeping in the next room. The enthusiasm can be overwhelming to the poor owl, who dives deeper under the blankets in a classic owl-camouflage maneuver. The oblivious lark continues to chirp, unaware that her chatter is not even being processed by the sleepy owl brain.
From a lark’s point of view, owls are those annoying creatures who stay wake half the night prowling through the house and wanting to engage in animated book discussions just as the poor lark is trying to fall asleep. How anyone can be so full of energy after being awake for so many hours is a mystery to the lark who operates on theory that people should be full of energy after a good night’s sleep not just as they are going to bed. The owl flies in the face of such drivel, hitting his stride as the midnight hour approaches. Larks often wonder what they have done to deserve such a spouse.
Owls will often grab a yellow legal pad, turning on the bedroom light and jotting down several pages of notes on an upcoming chapter, repeatedly expressing their ideas to the lark, who, by now, has wrapped a pillow around her head in a standard lark-avoidance move. The owl, oblivious to such tactics, continues to hoot, his enthusiasm wasted on the nearly but, unfortunately, not quite asleep lark.
So what are owls and larks who work together supposed to do? We don’t know about other owls and larks, but twilight is our answer. The owl is truly awake and the lark has not yet begun to get drowsy. Thorny issues of character development and sticky plot problems can only be resolved during this magical time when both the owl’s brain and the lark’s brain are still firing on all cylinders.
The owl/lark problem is an old one, addressed by many writers and artists over the years. We’ll end with our favorite commentary on the issue by the legendary Charles Shultz in his wonderful cartoon “Peanuts”:
Lucy: Physicians can learn a lot about a patient by asking what may even sound like a very simple question. Which do you prefer, a sunrise or a sunset?
Charlie Brown: Well, a sunset, I guess!
Lucy: I thought so! You’re just the type ! I might have known that! What a disappointment! People who prefer sunsets are dreamers! They always give up! They always look back instead of forward! I just might have known you weren’t a sunrise person! Sunrisers are go-getters! They have ambition and drive! Give me a person who likes a sunrise every time! Yes, sir! I’m sorry Charlie Brown. If you prefer sunsets to sunrises, I can’t take your case. You’re hopeless! (She leaves.)
Charlie Brown: Actually, I’ve always sort of preferred noon!
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