Ear­li­er this week, Matthue Roth blogged about pub­lish­ing a real life old-fash­ioned book. He will be blog­ging all week for JBC and MJL.

As a glut­ton for tor­ture (and as a recent par­ent, which is kind of the same thing), I’ve been tak­ing advan­tage of ear­ly morn­ings. My kids wake up at 6:30 or so, and I leave for the day-job at 8:00ish — so if I’ve ever dreamed of get­ting any­thing done before I leave (ha ha, I said dreamed), I’d bet­ter be doing it early.

I often get asked what my best writ­ing times are. Usu­al­ly I go on for hours — I’m either the best or worst inter­view you’ve had, if, you know, you’re an inter­view­er — but that ques­tion is sim­ple. Late at night or ear­ly in the morn­ing. Part­ly, it’s because no one else is around to dis­tract you. Part­ly, I think, it’s that those are the times that are clos­est to sleep, when your mind is most open and your mem­o­ries are all jum­bled up and free-asso­ci­at­ing and fic­tion­al­iz­ing them­selves. Those are the times I start­ed writ­ing Auto­mat­ic. It’s a book where a lot of things blend togeth­er, the peo­ple I grew up with and grow­ing up Jew­ish and work­ing-class and my best friend dying and the music that we were lis­ten­ing to as it was all happening.

Those times are when our inhi­bi­tions are at their low­est, too. When you can sort of force your­self to write about all those things that you wouldn’t write about oth­er­wise, unless you were drunk or feel­ing real­ly intense.

Ear­li­ness is in our genes. Abra­ham was an ear­ly ris­er. He used to pray at the moment the sun ris­es, and there’s still a tra­di­tion that, at the moment the sun clears the hori­zon, the gates of Heav­en are open to any prayer sent their way. One of my favorite bits of Jew­ish his­tor­i­cal apoc­rypha is this: The first minyan of the morn­ing used to be called the thieves’ minyan,” since they had to be out ear­ly to lie in wait for unsus­pect­ing trav­el­ers to pass…and even if you were going to be a thief, you still had to pray.

I remem­ber read­ing that both Michael Chabon and Salman Rushdie work from 10 – 3. (I also remem­ber think­ing, when I read that, real­ly? They’re both amaz­ing writ­ers, and both mas­ters of the craft, but in my too-hard­core-fan­boy esti­ma­tion, both have got­ten a lit­tle soft and over­con­fi­dent with their sto­ry­telling. The Chabon who wrote the breath­tak­ing, pulse-stop­ping first scene of Won­der Boys, I don’t think that could ever have hap­pened at 10:30, between cups of cof­fee. Same with the page-long descrip­tion of Saleem Sinai’s nose in Midnight’s Chil­dren–which, by the way, I strong­ly feel should be a mis­sion state­ment for Jew­ish writ­ers. Or Jews in general.)

I’m prob­a­bly vent­ing. Also, I have the lux­u­ry of hav­ing a day-job and a job writ­ing. Nor­mal­ly, it’s an insane bal­anc­ing act. But it’s that same stress that keeps my pas­sion intact, I hope. The same way TV shows inevitably go down­hill once the two for­bid­den char­ac­ters con­sum­mate their untouch­able lust for each oth­er (Moon­light­ing, Buffy the Vam­pire Slay­er), great writ­ers always seem to write their great­est books before they get dis­cov­ered.* I’m not claim­ing to be a great writer (although I think I’m a pret­ty good one). But I hope that, rel­a­tive to the sto­ries I’ve writ­ten before, I still have some of my best stuff yet to be written.

* – Or, admit­ted­ly, maybe we just claim those books as great, and when they try some­thing else, we inevitably have to com­pare it, to the new work’s detri­ment. But all love has to spring from somewhere.

Matthue Roths newest book is Auto­mat­ic. He is also the author of three nov­els and the mem­oir Yom Kip­pur a Go-Go, and is an asso­ciate edi­tor at MyJew​ish​Learn​ing​.com. His screen­play 1/20 is cur­rent­ly in pro­duc­tion as a fea­ture film.

Matthue Roth’s newest book is My First Kaf­ka: Rodents, Run­aways, and Giant Bugs, a pic­ture book, which will be released in June 2013. His young-adult nov­el Losers was just made a spe­cial selec­tion of the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion. He lives in Brookyn with his fam­i­ly and keeps a secret diary at www​.matthue​.com.