What is it about the dark of night that makes it so easy to be hard on ourselves?

I write this at 2:23 am, having been up for an hour due to a combination of eye-piercing headache and my husband’s snoring.  I’ve the lights on, a fire in the hearth, and a cat asleep on the back of the couch.  (She’s yowling in her sleep, probably dreaming about the dog who visited yesterday.)  Beyond the curtained windows, the woods are dark.

I find no fear in that darkness.  I have enough within to occupy myself.

At times like this, my brain seeks out the chinks in my daily armor.  “You’re hopeless.  Useless.”  “You’ve wasted your life.”  “You’ll never amount to anything.”  “You call that writing?”


Some nights, it’s hard not to listen, difficult not to embrace those lying words as truth.

How many of us achieve the grandiose dreams we set for ourselves in childhood, high school, or college?  How often do we sell ourselves short and settle for something less than what we want or feel we deserve?  Although — admittedly — sometimes that supposed “less” turns out to be more than we imagined, a blessing in disguise, turns out to be exactly what we need as opposed to what we want.

Smart man with words, that Mick Jagger.

So what to do on those nights (or sometimes days) when the shadows loom and the voices whisper?  It’s easy to say “don’t listen.”  It’s cavalier to suggest one turn their back when, in the end, it’s us alone against the dark side of ourselves.  (And who willingly turns their back on the enemy?)  Friends are good to reach out to.  They’ll bolster a sagging ego, rally around, maybe give useable advice (but usually not).  They’ll help keep you afloat until you regain the strength to swim again on your own.

But, oh, aren’t the deep waves tempting sometimes?


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Challenge, Courage, Essays, Fear, Lies, Melissa Crandall, Strength, Truth, Women, Writer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Candlelight

  1. MJ Allaire says:

    This one brought a tear – those deep waves are awful damn tempting sometimes.

    YOU are one of MY favorite authors. Not because you’re my friend. Not because you live only a few miles from me. Not because you love animals like I do.

    I love your writing, how you consistently weave the words of whatever it is you are working on, and they blend together in my mind to paint a beautiful picture. Not just with this blog post, or with one story from Darling Wendy. I see it with EVERYTHING you write. You inspire me to be a better writer. To talk to you in person, or over the phone, and hear the determination and LOVE for the craft in your voice – I hear it, I sense it, I FEEL it. You are truly an author, and someday, some damn day, I want to be just like you.

    You are my candle.

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