To sleep, perchance to… aw, #$@&%*.
I didn’t sleep very well on Wednesday night. I kept waking up at 47 minutes past the hour. I have a cold that’s almost gone now, but on Wednesday night, it kept waking me up with the hacking and the sneezing and the phlegm.
There’s no reason why this should lead to waking up at 47 minutes past the hour over and over again. I have no idea what that was about, but I do know what it was like: absolutely maddening. To make things worse, I have one of those clocks that project the time onto the ceiling, so I didn’t even have to look at the damn clock itself, I just had to look up. Since I often end up sleeping on my back, that means that I wake up, open my eyes, and the time immediately slaps me across the face.
To make matters even worse than that, I don’t use the bedside clock as an alarm clock, so I still haven’t gotten around to resetting it after that whole daylight savings debacle. So I would wake up, open my eyes, get smacked in the face by 0X:47, and then have to do math to figure out what time it actually was. At 3:47 in the morning, I can’t remember which continent I’m on, let alone whether I’m supposed to spring forward or fall back.
This is supposed to be the kind of thing that leads to inspiration, but mostly, it just leads to desperation. I don’t want to have an epic flash of genius at 3:47 in the morning. At 3:47 in the morning, I just want to bloody sleep.
I mean, sure, occasionally I wake up with a flash of insight, usually about some plot point that I was unclear about. But my best ideas usually come when I’m least prepared to write them down. Like in the shower, or when I’m driving on the freeway (no convenient red lights for you, missy.) At least, I think they were my best ideas. I end up forgetting a lot of them by the time I have a chance to write them down, but I’m sure they were awesome.
And yes, it occasionally leads to things like leaping out of the shower soaking wet and leaving a trail of water and shampoo across the carpet while I desperately look for something to write on, but let’s not dwell on that image.
But really, I know exactly why I can’t sleep. Sure, having a cold is part of it, but mostly, it’s because I’m at that point. That point where there’s a completed draft, and I’m just waiting for the readers to finish it and get their feedback to me. That takes weeks, but there’s a pretty predictable cycle that kicks in once the draft has been handed over.
At first, I’m just relieved to have something resembling a book. Then it occurs to me that I actually have time to take a little break, and I start enjoying it. That lasts about a day, and then I immediately plunge straight into paranoia, anxiety, and, eventually, the pit of despair. It’s not nerves, it’s a bone-deep certainty that they’re all going to hate it. I spend the next few weeks alternating between trying to distract myself, wondering what the hell I was thinking when I got myself into this mess, and deciding that I’m going to just quit.
A few weeks ago, I sat down to figure out when we were going to go see Avengers: Endgame. I don’t do opening weekends, but there are a heck of a lot of other people who apparently feel the same way. Even when you skip straight past it and try for the following weeks, finding a good time can be tricky. It’s especially tricky when you’re picky about which theater and what format you’re going to see it in. I finally figured out a good time, in the right theater, with the right seats still available, and then I checked it with Derek. He was enthusiastic — in retrospect, suspiciously so. I nailed down the tickets and let him know that we were all set.
“That’s great,” he said. “And then, after the movie, we’ll meet with the advance readers so you can sit down and get their feedback!”
Yeah. He’d already set it up.
True evil does exist.