free-writing: sleepless at 7
7 min read

free-writing: sleepless at 7

free-writing: sleepless at 7

D has decided today to stay up until the clock turns 00:00. KrA is lying next to D, and at this rate the grown-up will fall asleep way before the little one does.

Every day is a new adventure in this part of the world.

And because yesterday was a great day, today was a disaster – writing-wise.

Perhaps, I shouldn't be establishing such causal relationships between desirable and undesirable days/events or I'd be self-fulfilling that prophecy. In fact I sometimes think that's what I do. After one good day, a productive day when it comes to writing, I start to feel the tiny nerve-ends of anxiety tickle me, casting an evil eye on the good day gone by, prophesying a downfall for the day that follows.

But if I set aside all that tale of doom and gloom aside, I can tell you exactly where I went 'wrong'. I was up a little late last night, I had already noted I was ready to fall asleep when I was working on my free-writing session. And instead of letting my session contain a single word or line or paragraph, I ended up writing on and on. Had an ego to flatter, you see.

When I tumbled into bed, bleary-eyed, I wanted to finish reading the book I was hooked on to – Gregg Olsen's The Hive. I loved it and I had only about 10% to finish, so why not, even though it was already past nine, I suppose.

And then the fireworks started at around 10 p.m. for Canada Day and didn't let up until 11 p.m., so all attempts to fall asleep were in vain.

I was still gritty-eyed after finishing the book and was tempted to begin another, but some wise little part of me that had miraculously survived a lifetime of neglect and abuse and lack of faith and nurture at my hands told me I should just close my eyes and try to sleep. And that's how I fell asleep.

Until D woke me up at 5:30 A.M., his usual time these days. And thus began my grumpy morning. Nerves frayed, lack of sleep, even two cups of coffee couldn't fix it. And my thoughts spiralled out of control, and I didn't even begin a writing sprint. I struggled to get some words out but didn't get far.

Eventually I gave up, ran errands, did some chores, generally moaned, and wished I were a different person, a better one, one who either didn't have the responsibilities she had or at least didn't have the anxiety that came along with them.

It was late afternoon when I realised it was Friday and that I hadn't put up a Tales for Dreamers, and I promptly sat down to write it, and I think it was one of my best in the past few months. One that I really like. Take a look at it, if you haven't already.

Which brings us to another fallacy – the postulated role of agony, emotional torture, in the causation of a creative's work of art.
Because truth be told, I'd have written the story without all the drama that preceded it.

I don't want to get caught in the drama. I don't mind being angry that it feels like another day has slipped by and I don't have the words to show for it, but it's how I express that anger that worries me.

A day of moping, a day of feeling sorry for myself, a day of feeling I should give up writing and start sending my resumes, moping even more about how unemployable I've become, and how all this sadness is preventing me from spending quality time with D, and is this how he'll grow up to be too, a depressed grown-up incapable of handling the vagaries of life.

I sometimes think all that stress will kill me before lack of sleep does.

At the core of it is a fear that if I don't write books and eke a living out of it, then this whole attempt, all this time spent in making stories, writing books would be one giant waste. An absolute squandering of my time and effort and money, of KrA's consistent support and faith in me, of all the times D has put aside his disappointment when extra playtime with him had to give way to my work. Everything would have been for nothing! What a terrifying thought that is!

It's as if I want a guarantee that something good – no, something great – will come out of this endeavour.

And if that cannot be guaranteed, then I might as well divert my time and attention and energy to something else that will yield more immediate, more tangible rewards. Like a day job that I could begin tomorrow and get paid for in a fortnight, or a month at most, from then.

I wouldn't have to wait years for a reward, if one were to even come. I wouldn't have to slog it out for years, without any guarantee that something would come of it, or only to face the reality that all this time has lapsed and I'm still unemployed, unemployable, in a love-hate relationship with my writing.

And if you tell me that the process is the reward – heck, I'm guilty of touting that in my posts numerous times myself – then I'm not ready to hear it now. All I know is that only the present moment exists, and I want my rewards now! NOW! Not a comment (though that would be nice)! Not an FB like (though I wouldn't mind that either)! But moolah! Money in the bank!

Actually, Amazon poured some cash into my coffers for the second month in a row for the sales of Dying Wishes in March–May. No sales in June, the last I checked, so no revenue at the end of July. But hey! Whatever I've received so far was a decent bit – enough to sustain my coffee addiction for this month, I reckon. Definitely, way more than I earned from my first book. So that was exciting! (for as long as that excitement lasted!)

Gah! This long-term game really sucks. Especially on days when I don't get any writing done. On the days when I've written, I feel good, even though I'm only (infinity – 1) days away from my goal, whatever or wherever that may be. Still. A day of writing is far better than a day of not writing.

Yet, how difficult it can become to get to the desk and pour the words out.

Some days it is easy-peasy, as my ex-boss liked to say. Some days, even a thousand horses are insufficient to drag me out of my stupor or stubbornness.

Oh, well! Here's hoping I improve at this with practice.

This = the art of patience, the art of trusting myself, trusting existence, the skill of writing, the ability to keep the negative voices in my head from sabotaging my willingness to show up and write.

In case you're wondering, D has fallen asleep.

*Did I ever tell you, one of the red-tailed hawks (K2) that we'd been watching at The Cornell Labs had to be euthanised? The people monitoring the cameras had noticed an infection on its beak a couple of weeks ago, and after the oldest hawk (K1) had fledged, they went up to bring K2 down to be looked at by the vets, who eventually deemed that K2 had suffered an infection and structural damage too serious for him to be able to survive in the wild. So they had to euthanise him.

I broke this news to D a few days ago and it took him an entire day to grieve and get over the sadness. Even now, he keeps asking "Do you think K1 and K3 think about K2 sometimes?"

K1 and K3 continue to fly near their nest and they keep returning for food. The webcam operators take pics and post them on Twitter. It's heartening to see BR (Big Red, the mumma hawk) look after her fledglings.

All the stuff that seem to come so naturally to animals and birds have become so complicated in humans. What does it mean to be a good mother?

The 'idea' of good parenting is so vastly different than the reality of trying to keep calm through all the mess that childhood is, all the anxieties it triggers in us.

I was telling KrA today that now I want to hire a nanny. D is five years old but I'm so exhausted by how draining these past five years have been that I want a grown-up companion in the house – someone who will cook, who will play with D, who will be my friend too.

Someone who is extremely lucky would most likely get this kind of assistance from immediate family – parents or parents-in-law – but that option is not available to us, so let's not even dwell on that.

As I was telling my cousin today, the 'idea' of having family around is vastly different than the reality of the daily bickering and the ego clashes that go on. And my dear wise cousin reminded me, as he does over and over again, that family is not necessarily the people we are born to and grow up with. Instead, it is someone who can just make daily life better for the three of us.

Anyway, circling back to what stops me from writing on some days, most often it has to do with lack of sleep and waking up with the assumption that a sleepless night foretells an unproductive day.

(1) I can reframe that thought. Instead of writing the day off, I can decide to take an approach of flow and see where the day leads me to, instead of lambasting it and myself before it has even begun.

(2) I can turn up at the writing desk and attempt to write. If there is much resistance to it, I can acknowledge it as resistance, try to overcome it or switch off the computer and go off to do something else – play with D, cross-stitch, colouring, cleaning up – without viewing these tasks as chores of obligations or inconveniences or waste of time, and instead looking at them as self-care. Playing to loosen the tension in me. Cross-stitch or colouring to relax. Cleaning up to make my home more organised and beautiful.

The words will be there when I get back to them, more calm and more relaxed, and not demanding that life and all the people in it ought to bend the way I want them to, when I want them to.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to come back here and re-read this post when the next spell of 'bad mood' overpowers me, but I hope that in the act of typing these words down, some of this message has seeped into my subconscious and will resurface at the appropriate time when I need to remember it and act upon it.

So, that's it from me today, folks!

I'll be off now to look for a pic to post here.

À demain!

Image Attribution: Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

(*I was also telling KrA today that I could take up a job as someone who watches those birdcams all day long and posts updates on Twitter. That would be an entire day spent in Zen! Cornell Labs, Universe, anyone, are you listening? What about writing then? Gah! There we go again!)