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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Insomnia

In the middle of the night, I sure can tell a story. Lately, the bewitching hour so to speak, seems to be somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00, when I wake up, not nearly rested enough. It would, of course, be better to go back to sleep, but since I have no control over that, I daydream, well, night dream— oh, you know what I mean.

For some reason, in spite of the desperate exhaustion inherent in those foggy, half-eye-open moments, that time happens to be the most conducive to good ideas—my favorite blog posts and writing projects have been born during those quiet hours. Perhaps I’m still attached to my subconscious, maybe dreams still resonate— I don’t know. But whatever the cause, sentences slip in like spilled baby oil, smooth and clear. If I could somehow pour them directly onto the page, we’d be in fat city, but those rivers of words never make it to print.

Before you ask, yes, I have a pad of paper beside my bed. Sure, when these thoughts erupt; I jot down notes, but it’s in the dark, without my glasses—when I can find the pen. So while the concepts make it, the liquid free flow that seeps up like ground water in the spring doesn’t. I can never convince myself to get up and fully record the detail. To tell the truth, it’s unlikely the pen could keep up for one, and besides our Yankee skin-flint mentality dictates that the heat goes off in our house at 9:00 p.m. It’s New England y’all. It’s just too darn cold. So the ideas that I ultimately find scribbled on a piece of paper tend to look like this.


Hours later I stare at the scrawl and pull at the lingering threads of memory that remain, knowing that the easy writing, that genius composition that arrived during a sleep deprived half-life has faded away— as happens with all the most comforting dreams.

Now I have to dig for it.



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12 comments:

Kittie Howard said...

Ahhh, that twilight time. I've never figured out if it is a blessing or a curse. But the ideas surely do come, just that, when I wake up so early, there's dragging energy later.

Mary Vaughn said...

Yikes! I thought keeping my house at 62 was cold at night.
I have a note like yours at my beside--been there two months and I still can't figure it out.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I used to jot down scraps of dreams, sometimes I could read them and sometimes they were great mysteries. I agree with you that middle-of-the-night thoughts can be wildly creative and as slippery as eels.

Sharon said...

Teasers from the Muse. What a wicked sense of humor she has... Oh, how I hate losing those flashes of genius. Great post, Liza.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Oh, I can SO relate to this. For me it's 4:30. Whenever I'm in the brainstorming stage I can COUNT on waking up at 4:30 with some brilliant idea I have to scribble down in the pad by my bed and try to decipher my sloppy handwriting in the morning. Ah writers. We're such a unique group. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I usually have ideas RIGHT BEFORE I'm about to fall asleep. Sometimes I jot them down and sometimes I'm just too tired. :)

KarenG said...

I often wake up then, and get up if I can't go back to sleep. I love that time of day, when everyone else is asleep and the house is so quiet.

Jon Paul said...

I struggle with this too--and the worst part is thinking you'll remember the details later, and then being unable to.

Here's one thing that's helped: I got myself one of those little digital recorders--they can record hours of audio--so I will "jot" a few things down with my voice instead of fiddling with the pen. I find that the work of transcribing it later often better captures the original idea.

Just my two cents! Stay warm!

sue said...

Its strangely comforting to know there's other people out there suffering (if that's the right word) with this.

My pen leaked on the sheets one night when it crept in bed with me, so I tried a pencil, but the lead broke when I dropped it next night. I've tried the laptop, but it just feels wrong. I like the idea of a voice recorder. Hubby shouldn't hear it over his snoring!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Get a small recorder and place it by your bed - as long as you hit the right button, you can do that in the dark!

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh that happens to me too! Although I would rather be sound asleep, I seem to be able to do a lot of clear thinking in those silent wee hours of the night! :-)

Robin said...

Reading that mishmash makes you wish you hadn't written anything down in the first place! I know the feeling well! You do that enough times and you stop trying to put anything to the paper in the middle of the night b.c. you know you will hate yourself in the morning!!!