The Night Owl and Tolkien


Another day, another morning of making my way downstairs blindly groping things because I’m essentially still asleep.
Not many people understand the plight of the night owl. People use that expression so loosely these days: “oh yeah, I’m a night owl, I like going to sleep late most nights”.

But there’s so much more to it than that. Only other night owls understand this however – the fact that it’s not wanting to go to sleep late but rather, an actual inability to get to sleep unless the sun is about to come up.

People used to say to me that I would grow out of it, but it never happened. What I suspected when I was younger has proven to be true: I am a night owl and it’s genetic, there’s nothing I can do about it. There are case studies to prove that being a night owl is an actual real ‘thing’ (not a figment of our imagination) and that we actually, really, function better at night – I’m not going to bore anyone with that, but it’s on the net if anyone cares to look for it.
So I’m not going to share scientific studies but this is light-hearted:

I am not a fully functioning human being until noon, and I’m at my most awake – and performing best, once evening hits. It’s always been like that throughout my life and I’ve now accepted that it’s not going to change – it’s just the way I am.

It was John Milton who said: “what hath night to do with sleep”? A man who obviously understood night owls.
Last night, I was re-reading the passage in Lord of the Rings when Gandalf confronts the Balrog and I could swear that the beauty of Tolkien’s writing can only be fully appreciated after midnight (for me and other night owls).

โ€œThe Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white” -Tolkien

Now I can read this in the morning and appreciate it, I can – but at night all the intricacies of this great writing leap off the page and come alive. At night, I totally get it – I could write an essay on the use of alliteration and other stylistic literary devices in the passage – whereas in the morning I’d be more likely to think it’s beautifully written and a kick-ass story…..butย I wouldn’t get much further unless I was seriously pushed. I’ve noticed that a lot (though not all) of night owls are creative people and bookworms too – there’s definitely a correlation there.

“It may be remarked that all bookshops that are open in the evening are busy in the after-supper hours. Is it that the true book-lovers are nocturnal gentry, only venturing forth when darkness and silence and the gleam of hooded lights irresistibly suggest reading? Certainly night-time has a mystic affinity for literature, and it is strange that the Esquimaux have created no great books. Surely, for most of us, an arctic night would be insupportable without O. Henry and Stevenson. Or, as Roger Mifflin remarked during a passing enthusiasm for Ambrose Bierce, the true noctes ambrosianae are the noctes ambrose bierceianae”.
~Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop

All my best writing is done in the evening or at night. When I was a student, I was at my most productive at night time too. It’s tough for night owls because society is organised (necessarily, I’m well aware) in a way that favours early birds. This is why night owls can sometimes feel like they’re discriminated against, and I guess in a way they are – but they are great adapters and learn to cope with only a few hours sleep each night.

Yet, being a night owl is not all bad – mornings are difficult (hellish sometimes) but there’s something magical about looking out your window at 2am and seeing all those dark houses: everybody else is asleep while your brain is dissecting some piece of literature or coming up with great lines… feel alive and full of possibilities.
Then of course, while looking out the window, once in a while you find another light piercing the dark – and you wonder if it’s a fellow night owl out there. And you mentally send them good wishes. That’s another thing night owls are: caring. Really, if you stop to think about it, night owls are pretty amazing people.ย Thank f**k for them. Us.


Image credit: and

25 thoughts on “The Night Owl and Tolkien

      1. Aw, that’s such a nice thing to say – your comment just made *my* day ๐Ÿ™‚
        Let’s congratulate each other for both having the honour of belonging to that very exclusive “Night Owls” Club ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I absolutely relate. I wrote a poem about it once. I could never get to work or school on time. That’s why I work for myself now. My husband is up before the sun, but I’m lucky to be fully awake by 10am!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, a lot of night owls end up working for themselves, I do too! I was also always late for everything – it takes me a couple of hours at least (and 2 cups of tea) to fully wake up in the mornings ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyable reading… I am a night owl so as to say as well…
    At the end I wake up each morning to work with awful dark circles… LOL
    Anyhow, part of the vicious cycle involves long naps during the afternoon, so when night arrives you are already up, again…
    Love and all the very best to you, pretty PurpleAnais. Aquileana ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha I just posted my last pics of the year but sweet lord, there HAS been a lot of selfies – too many!
        What do you mean IF it existed?! It does! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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