There are nights as a writer in which you open your eyes at some ungodly hour, when you wake in the warmth of a wide open heart. The hundred voices speak to you. You are grateful, melded to the universe that you have invited in, dutiful in recording what you hear.

And there are other nights. Different nights.

You wake grumpy. Resistant. On nights like these, you are not filled with warmth and gratitude. You are landlocked in your head, away from the warming tide. You don’t want voices; you don’t want anything except those three hours of shuteye that your tired brain has earned. The universe seems very very far away.

The voices speak to you anyway. Go figure.

Instead of the brilliant, blinding, winter’s-fire gift that the best nights are, tonight’s voice is a candle flicker on a miser’s table. Stingy light—or so it seems. You are not willing. You are not worthy. You hold your hands to the candle and ask “I’ve done what you woke me to do…enough now?” You parse the sweeping, generous voices into small change that you accept grudgingly.

But the universe is patient. The universe keeps giving, despite you. One idea. Then another. And another. Three wonderful sparkling characters, born whole of the night. A richness you had not imagined, handed to that stubborn brain.

Next thing you know, you have half-a-tape full of notes. And you have never once felt engaged, only surprised. You never had that open-to-the-ethers sensation, have never felt swept away on the quantum tide…and yet the gifts came to you anyway.

A very strange sensation, that. If you didn’t feel the receptive state beforehand, certainly you should have felt it during, shouldn’t you? And if not during, then afterward—surely then. But no.

Three characters. A plot point made vastly richer by the inclusion. And all quite against my will on a different kind of night.

How the hell did that happen?