Should I strangle an owl?

HTWB barn owlFunny how your brain grabs you by the short hairs in the middle of the night … transports you right out of your comfort zone into a mind-slashing pot boiler cooking up why you’re there, how good you are at your job, what you stand for, what you do, who your friends are, who you have sex with, what your kids are up to, how much money you owe and a few other hundred triggers for paranoid schizophrenia.

As you may have noticed, thoughts such as these tend to pile-drive into your brain in the wee small hours of the morning, when – in England at this time of year, anyway – small owls are just beginning to wake up. And, having picked up a mouse or two for sustenance, they are now ready to hoot and holler to find a new mate with whom eventually to go jiggy-jiggy and create baby owls.

Is 04:00 hours the right time to share romantic new beginnings?

If you’re someone who leads the conventional life and timetable, the last thing you want to hear is owls hooting outside when you’re trying desperately to get those all-important sleep hours done and dusted before you wake up at 06:00 or 07:00 or so and fly off to your next high-powered breakfast meeting or networking do.

Owls just don’t understand, do they? Or do they? I would hate to think it’s because I’m getting older (of course I am: aren’t we all?) … but are we really justified in denying the fact that we spend too much time working on how to live, and not enough time on doing it?

HTWB PWW main in-post logoLove your work … love your writing … but don’t forget to love living, too

So many of us writers never stop working / writing. It’s understandable because that’s what we do.

Even people who aren’t pro writers but who have to write blogs and other content as part of their jobs, often tend to do it “in spare time…” … “on the weekend” when we’ve got time to breathe and look at things objectively.

I’m so guilty of this: more and more I spend the working week teaching in my workshops, giving talks, networking online and offline, doing admin, etc. etc. When do I settle down for some serious writing? Evenings and weekends.

If you’re work is getting in life’s way, listen to some owls

Owls don’t have deadlines. They don’t do breakfast networking meetings. They don’t have clients. They don’t have Facebook pages. They live pleasant lives, have nice relationships, and get to hunt, breed and enjoy their food during the peace and quiet of the night-time.

Our local owls, to me, represent what the French call “s’en foutisme” … creatures who get on with their lives despite the fact that they create noise when many mammals, birds, etc. are asleep and don’t care at all.

And actually, when I wake up and hear the owls in my neighborhood … much as I could strangle them for waking me up, equally I could hug them for reminding me what life, and nature, are really all about.

How do nature’s wake-up calls affect you?

Please share your thoughts!

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family (don’t forget the Holiday Season is coming soon)…

photo credit: me’nthedogs via photopin cc




  1. Nothing wakes me up once I’m asleep! I frequently sleep through thunderstorms and all sorts and wonder what all the fuss is about when I eventually surface. I think it comes from sharing a bed with a very loud snorer! I got used to sleeping through loud noises and now nothing bothers me. You have my sympathy though, once you’re awake you can easily get distracted by noises at night-time that stop you drifting back off. Well, I can imagine it anyway! 😀

    • You don’t know how lucky you are, Andrea … I could sleep through a thunderstorm if it happened around midnight or before when I’m sleeping soundly, but if there is even the slightest rumble of thunder I have a 40 pound spaniel-terrier cross dog wrapped around my neck with its head under my pillow, shaking with fear. That’s hard to sleep through… LOL….

  2. Do my dogs count as nature? If so, they are always my wake up call. lol

    • Oh, I have that sort of wake-up call too, Cindy – a Gordon Setter and a mega-mutt plus 4 x cats, but they don’t wake me quite as early as the owls do! What sort of dogs do you have – and what time do they get you up?

  3. I struggle with sleeping through the night since I moved off the farm (in May). Once I’m awake, it’s hours before I can snooze off again. Funny, those familiar critter noises seemed to be what lulled me back to sleep. It also eliminated a need for an alarm clock (you kind of get used to who starts piping in when to warn into a slow wake up). Of course, we didn’t have owls, so I have no idea how obnoxious their sound is. But I do get your point, Suzan. I’m an evening and weekend warrior, but OK with that.

  4. UPDATE OCTOBER 2014 … I’m told that not only do we have Barn Owls in our neighborhood, but also Screech Owls – aptly named, considering that this October, like last October when I wrote this article, they are having even louder shouting matches outside my bedroom window in the small hours … for more about them, see . Grumpy-looking birdies, aren’t they?

  5. paul mcgarvey says

    I know that you are only joking when you say you could strangle the owl. Think about it. Would you wrather be kept awake by verman that the owls eat. Sleeptite.