Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sore Labour's Bath

I've been unable to blog for the past two days, mostly because I've been unable to sleep. Sleep and me have never been good friends, even less so now that I have a symphonic snorer beside me each night. I toss, I turn; I kick, I poke; and if I'm lucky somewhere in there I manage to catch a few hours.

Some people say they never dream, or at the very least they can never remember their dreams when they awaken. I have a very active dream-life, and for the past few weeks I've been plagued by writing query letters; getting both good and bad agent responses; etc etc. It was the same when I worked in the corporate world -- my job always invaded my sleep. The worst was when I worked as an editor and I'd dream all night of endlessly tracking the same sentence to make it fit on one line.

But to dream, you first need to get to sleep. For me, this is where the true pain lies. I have tried everything: warm bath; hot milk (yuck); writing down my racing thoughts on a notepad by the bed; visualisation; lavender pillow spray; staying up later -- all to no avail. Sometimes my frenetic thoughts are rewarding: Last week, I came up with a new idea for my next novel. I even thought of a great title! But mostly, they are the annoying things that flood your brain as soon as your tired head hits the pillow. I can't think of any of them right now, but I'm sure that once I try to sleep I'll be able to provide a million examples!

And so I drag my tired brain to my desk each morning at 8 a.m., sucking back my coffee as I begin revisions on my next novel. And pray for a better night's sleep. Maybe tonight...

that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.

-- Shakespeare's Macbeth


Nixy Valentine said...

The trick with a racing mind, I've found, is not to resist them. That takes too much energy. The best strategy I've found is to let them go as quickly as they come... to not hang on, let yourself engage in the stories. Just notice, and let them float away without judgement (of the thoughts or yourself).

Of course, advice about such things is often very annoying, so, erm. sorry!

You're in a stressful time right now, both good stress and bad, so I'm not surprised you can't sleep so well! I do hope you find sleep soon. =)

Nixy Valentine said...

Oh dear what I meant was NOT to let yourself engage in the stories.

You'd think a writer wouldn't forget an important word like NOT. That changes everything!

Criss said...

Are you a night person?

If you can set your own schedule, why not start your morning later, if you can get some decent sleep in those early hours? You can get some work done at night, when your mind wants to work instead of sleep.

One of the things I hate about my day job is that it makes me get up so early. I always get my second wind at night! I can stay up for hours and be productive, but my alarm rings at 5:45 so I need to give up that productive time to sleep, so I can function at the day job.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Oh dear, not funny. Perhaps if you make no effort to go to bed it might be interesting as to when you doze off. I once knew a chap who lived on about two hours a day.