Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sleeping, reading and writing

I'm suffering from insomnia right now, for the last few days I have been falling asleep around 3am, 5am, that kind of thing. It's no fun. It happens every now and then, seemingly unrelated to coffee intake or stress or anything I can put my finger on. Maybe I should enjoy the night hours and use the time for writing, but I'm not really awake enough, although not asleep enough either. Annoying. I hope it will pass, because it is causing me to miss my writing group meeting early tomorrow morning... I figured that there is little chance of my sleeping returning to normal tonight so that I can get up at 7.30 am (very unusual for me, if you know me well!) to make it to Tel Aviv by 10am. Shame. I was so looking forward to it. This is the small, intimate group of four of us, and the other three all had babies in the last 18 months so we haven't managed many get-togethers. And, with all their night-time feeding disruptions, it's me that ends up cancelling! Ironic, eh?

Anyhow, on a more positive note, I am continuing to be inspired by reading other people's stories and watching how they influence my own writing in terms of somehow giving me "permission" to do things in a different way. This happened with Roy Kesey's All Over (see my review here) which freed me from my need to explain and describe.

And now I am reading Paddy O'Reilly's wonderful collection, The End of the World, and I believe this has directly contributed to me finishing (can it ever really be finished??) a story I have been struggling with for over a year. Inspired by her final story, which is a set of very short pieces, I tried this with my story, giving sub-headings to the tiny sections, and suddenly it felt like it came together. And then I was able to write the end.

We will see. I need to let it lie now, let my writing groups take a crack at it. In a week, or a month, I may decide I hate it. But right now it's my new baby, it's beautiful and I love it. I'm blind to its faults, it can do no wrong. Thank goodness for the cool, critical eye of others!


ireneintheworld; said...

oooh i love it when a plan comes together! sometimes FORMAT arrives in your life like a knight on a white charger. hope you still love it next month tania.

i used to have these sleeping problems years ago; how loud is a running bath in the middle of the night?! i've since learned to lie back and just relax into it if it happens now, then at least i get some kind of rest. sometimes i get up and have a cup of tea and some toast. x

Anonymous said...

I am partially convinced that insomnia is a symptom of this "writing disease." Mine frequently occurs after a productive bout of creative work. I'll lie in bed, mulling over a scene, or my characters, then glance at the clock and realize it's 4:00 am and I haven't slept a wink. The next day I'm too fagged to get any writing done which only compounds the frustration.

My doctor suggests not eating before bed. Not watching TV, not listening to music, not reading anything. Just spending a half hour doing nothing on the couch. Then once you're in bed, stay there. I think it's helped a little, especially nights after I teach night class when I'm the most keyed up. But if there was a miracle cure, I'd be the first to embrace it.

Good luck and good night!

Tania Hershman/The Short Review said...

Hi Irene, I love that phrase "FORMAT arrives in your life like a knight on a white charger." That's it exactly! And baths, I am afraid, are out here in Israel, there's such a water shortage that we can't allow ourselves the luxury. Also, it's 33 degrees C here... a little too warm for that!

Hi Anon - you have the distinction, I believe, of being the first ever anon comment on my blog. Welcome, feel free to reveal yourself. you are among friends. I like your theory about insomnia being a writing disease. I do sometimes write stories in my head at night. I tried your suggestion about not doing anything for the half hour before sleep... Didn't work. Got to sleep at 3am. Ah well!

Sarah Hilary said...

Ooh, I love that feeling, Tania - of being in love with your new "baby" aka a story that came together so beautifully. I hope the writing groups love it, and that you still do even after that isolation period.