Last night wasn’t the first night of un-sleep, but it was the first night I took medicine for it. Medicine that decided I needed awakeness more than it needed to do its job.
I got out bed to write instead, but it was too cold, too dark. Earlier in the day, it had been too hot, too bright. Sometimes my chair is too short. Sometimes my hair is too long. Sometimes I’m in the middle of typing and decide I should just make a biscuit instead.
An American biscuit, I should say. I’m not a big fan of cookies. I rarely eat them, but I do bake them, and I love to gift them.
…. Somehow, this has become a study of what fabled creatures in the woods I am. Red Riding Hood, sometimes. Goldilocks, obviously, reluctantly.
And last night, I was Baby Bear, staring in horror at my bed. Not because it had a trespasser in it, but because it was empty. Empty where I should have been resting instead of shivering wide-awake in front of a blank screen, thinking, my, my, what big blankness you have.
This last Christmas, I was gifted a year of MasterClass and I have watched all of the ones even slightly related to writing. One of the consistencies between their collective advice is how important it is to have consistency.
There was so much more included. How to edit effectively, almost maniacally. How to stick a landing. How to write about the people in your life, and do both them, and your life, justice by it. How to find your voice, and be flexible. How to make a character, open a world, breathe life into a sentence.
All this was interesting to hear, but I have a middling grip on most of those things.
Stability of all type slips from my fingers. But my voice has the palm of a tree frog and it is stickingly consistent even if its output could be anything or anywhen.
I could start there, couldn’t I? Couldn’t I build a stable relationship with my writing, starting with the consistency of voice? What would that look like? These aren’t entirely rhetorical questions. If you have answers or ideas, I am open, but even Neil Gaiman and Steve Martin and David Sedaris painted pictures I couldn’t dream myself into.
Part of this is my generally-undisciplined self, but there’s got to be leeway given to chronic illness and inconsistent mental health, too. How do you wake up in the morning and write when you haven’t slept? How do you visualize a dream when your mind is fog? When will I get enough rest to start making sense in my own head?
And why didn’t this medicine work?
I’m never a particularly linear person but I’d like to think of my writing (and my mind) as more of a graph on a journey than a tangled tarnished chain. Lately, it is more the latter, more forest than trees, and I know it would be better if I could just rest and focus.
If I could just pick one thing I need to write, and finish it.
If I could just find one tree, or dream, and sleep beneath it.
If I could just stop, and be still.
If I could just… stop.
* There’s some new people here so just wanted to explain that nothing is ever an affiliate link, or an ad or anything like that. I linked to MasterClass only because I wasn’t sure if everyone would know what it was. I don’t have any kind of discount code, but I do know that last year they did a buy one, get one, type of thing around Christmas so if you’re interested, maybe check around then?