Keeping Me Up at Night

I admittedly have a very weird sleep schedule. I’m very much a night person — my prime hours take place after sundown. Not wanting to waste my best moments and favorite time on the boring day job, I work early mornings. Really early. Like, I start at 5:30 or 6:30 in the morning. I come home, nap (if sleeping for 2-4 hours can be called a nap), wake up, eat, do whatever, and go back to bed at about midnight. I could do later, but that’s pushing it. I get 6-8 hours of sleep total, but they are separated. It has worked for me for umpteen years.

I’ve read a bunch of the reports about how bad this is; how we need to get 8 hours of continuous sleep. Not doing so seems to cause everything from heart disease, to hyper-obesity, to Ebola, to shin splints, to lockjaw, to melanoma. That’s not the point here. The point is that when bedtime comes, I need to get on it and get to sleep. This usually happens quickly.

Narcolepsy is a possibility.

Narcolepsy is a possibility.

Unless I have a story on the brain. Or overwhelming anger/frustration/rage at work/personal issues. Or the heat. Gods, I loathe the heat. Anyway, whenever I have something in my head, either under the surface or consciously, it always tends to land on me with both taloned feet at night. When? Just as I am drifting into that bizarre land of half-wake, half-sleep, thereby snapping me right awake.

I have had to get up and write notes, be they on paper, my phone, a wall, whoever might be sleeping next to me…something is getting written on. I have mountains of Nocturnal Notes — ideas, images, quirks, full story ideas — which need to be put down and remembered. I would roll over and go back to sleep if they weren’t usually pretty good. It’s like my brain has trained itself that it is Creative Time about 10 seconds before REM sleep. Add this to the tons of stuff I have notes for and it far outweighs the paltry two things I have published.

As I mentioned earlier this week, my brain has been aflame with the new story. It is now keeping me up at night. My traitor brain will be drifting off to sleep and then BAM! Psychic, creative dagger to the psyche, like a dangerously bipolar, mean-spirited Psylocke is ninja-running through my room, determined to piss me off.

"I bless you with creative inspiration and curse you with sleeplessness!" *stab, bounce*

“I bless you with creative inspiration and curse you with sleeplessness!” *stab, bounce*

Usually when a story gets its hooks into me like this and I’m not ready to start writing it, I write out a character synopsis or a full story synopsis…something to take the edge off. This one isn’t letting me do that. I’m not always one of those people who can fully conceptualize a character without help. What I use is a character sketch worksheet, usually only a page or two, that helps me get the background of a character, his/her relation to the plot and environment, and the relationships between characters. More than anything, this will usually give me plot ideas, so it’s dual purpose. I have written five of these — main characters, side characters, and one who is plot-important, but not overall.

Yet I still can’t sleep at night. I drew a map. No sleep. Started the synopsis. Some sleep. Writing this out makes me realize that I’m probably holding the story back, that it’s ready to be born. I’m like a mother using a road cone to keep the baby in the womb-oven for another few weeks. It just doesn’t work like that.

What are YOU smiling at?

What are YOU smiling at?

Does this happen to anyone else? I’m sure it does, but to what degree, I wonder. Oh well, I’d love to hear from people, but for tonight, I’m off to be productive. Or play Disgaea D2. Whatever.

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~ by Darren Endymion on July 17, 2014.

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