Welcome to the 3:15 homepage for Tod McCoy
Read from the following days:
The first year I participated in the 3:15 Experiment, I traveled through Europe every single day of the month of August. That was a seminal experience, jarring myself daily not just with my first trip overseas (ever), but by waking myself up at 3:15am in some new, faroff place. There was a newness and a richness that engendered each poem.
Since then, the experiment just hasn't seemed the same unless I'm traveling while doing it. This year I came close, making the transition from Seattle to Vancouver, BC, my new home. It's about as close to traveling as I could get in a couple of years. It's not quite as rich, but I still marvel at the nuggets that roll out of my head at that time of night.
Being a participant in this experiment has been an experience more enlightening than just about any other I can think of; I will miss the annual 3:15 jar, the ruddy sensation that some muse just kicked me in the head to wake up and write something profound. Farewell, 3:15 Experiment! Hopefully, some poetry scientist will someday find something profound in these nocturnal ramblings.
I went rogue this year.
While I had followed the traditional rules of The 3:15 Experiment for the past five years I had participated, I decided this year to try something different. I had begun seeing someone late last year and decided not to subject her to the bizarre middle-of-the-night incantations we all invoke. As most of us know, while we think the experiment is pretty cool and will gladly suffer a month’s worth of sleepless euphorics, our significant others often morph into death spewing zombies when wakened unnecessarily for a piddle of poetry.
So, rather than drag her unwilling into the experiment, I decided to try something I’d been thinking about for a couple of years.
The 3:15 Experiment is largely predicated on two notions: first, that the mind as it wakens from a deep slumber will still be attached to a dream state, or linger in an otherworldly realm, bringing back fragments and snatches of images as it steps back across the hypnopompic line into reality. The second, that if all participants are awakening and writing at the same time, it might be interesting to compare poems and find common ground to see how connected our collective conscience is.
My experiment postulates that jarring oneself awake at a prescribed time actually works against the experiment, in the sense that an alarm clock, even the most mild one, forces the mind awake and focuses the attention momentarily on the alarm itself, jerking the mind away from any dreamlike inspiration before attempting to write. Often I would be so surprised at waking up, I would be forcing myself to write, and more often than not drawing a blank.
This year, what I did instead was allow myself to wake up naturally in the middle of the night, whenever that might be, and ease out of sleep to do my writing. The result seemed to be that I woke primarily between 5:00am and 6:30am, a couple of times after 7:00am, and once a week or so between 2:30am and 4:30am. The poems themselves, while I have not been through them yet, already feel richer and more interesting than poems in years past. My biggest complaint about these poems of past years is that they felt like diary entries more than anything; this year, they felt more substantial even as I was writing them.
As for whether there are commonalities with poems of the same day, that remains to be seen. Until other poets enter their work, I won’t be able to compare them.
And so maybe I cheated a little this year, but it is an experiment, after all.
Although I had lived in Vancouver briefly several times, this year was the first full year I lived there. It was a fairly torturous time, as moving to any new country is, and by August I had many difficult things weighing heavily on me. I was working a job as a technical writer, which I didn't much care for; I was fresh out of an emotional relationship, which didn't completely end for months; I was not doing well financially; it was the longest I had ever spent in my life living by myself; and the economy of the whole world was going down the shitter.
While I had friends nearby and a great film and television community to interact with, it was very much an alone time for me. Not "lonely," but "alone." I think this is reflected in my 3:15 poems.
A month later, I would lose my job, and by the end of the year, unable to find sustaining work, I would move back to Seattle.
For much of 2009, I was in what I called "salvation mode." Having moved back to Seattle, I quickly picked up work as a technical writer with Microsoft and began making decent money, for the first time in my life. I spent those months paying off debt, moving into my own place, buying some furniture, and basically rectifying the mistakes of my past. I didn't date, I splurged a little, I took a few trips, and I got very little writing done.
By August, I had entered a new mode: the "What the fuck do I do with myself?" mode. It was the idea that for the first time in my life, I did not feel like I had to struggle to make ends meet. It was the freeing satisfaction I should have felt after leaving university: "Which way do I go? What do I want to do? The sky's the limit!"
In January 2010, I am still there. "What the fuck do I do now?"
Indeed. I have no clue.
Copyright 2005 by the individual poets