Hello, Brain. (You bastard).

Last night I was up until 5am. I turned in for bed at around midnight. I thought I was tired. I was tired. I just lay there and turned over and over and over, unable to sleep. I read for a while. I’ve nearly read A Moveable Feast after just about a week, which is saying something for me. I’m a slow, careful reader. At about 3am, I sat up and using the Notes app on my iPhone, I wrote a short chapter, or at least a long scene. About 1700 words. Then I wrote notes for several other scenes. At 4:30, I said to hell with it, took another swig of Jamesons and went back to bed. It had no effect other than a fear that my teeth are going to rot out of my head at this rate.

I think I finally fell asleep at around 5am. I woke up to my 7:45am alarm, telling me to get my son out of bed and ready for online schooling which runs like IngSoc in 1984 with its 8am mandatory meeting and a whole slough of annoying Zoom chats and monitored time on reading an math apps scattered throughout the day. Because, you know, why be flexible with time in an online learning environment?

Dear school, I have some notes…

I went back to sleep and actually had some dreams, but I get woken up by the sound of cereal being poured, or my son talking to his teacher over the Zoom interface, or some asshole mowing his grass at an ungodly hour.

The problem is weird to explain to people and one I haven’t experienced in my life. It used to be that I could write any length of writing and feel satisfied. I would go to bed, feeling accomplished, and sleep like normal people. Only now I write, and then my brain says “Wait, remember this? If you don’t write it down, you’ll forget.” So I write it down. That and the 1,000 other things I need to get down. I feel this almost spiritual connection with the writing now. I am not the creator, but the facilitator, pulling these ideas from whatever source, and putting them into the story. The story needs me to tell it. The story won’t let me sleep until it feels like it has been written.

Sometimes I think when the story is done with me and I have outlived my usefulness, I will just drop over dead. At least I can rest if that is the case.

Dropping off social media has freed up a lot of time. But I can’t help but wonder if my sleeplessness has something to do with interrupting a familiar pattern. My Fear of Missing Out might be affected since I have the urge to open Facebook or Instagram, but really am apathetic as far as what I will see there. Right now I have email, Messenger, and WordPress.

Writing at night is what my brain wants to do. When my son is home, I’m not being interrupted by racket that he makes, having to stop and make meals, or pick up the messes he excels at leaving all over the house. There are not the endless questions and interruptions of a kid who is bored and starved of other human interraction because he is learning online.

When he is gone back to his mom’s, the house is too empty for a few days and I miss the sounds of someone else. There is no middle ground. But late at night, after the assholes in their hotrods stop racing up and down the highway, and there are no garbage trucks, or shitheads bouncing basketballs in the park behind my house, and only the sound of crickets or barking dogs is there to cradle my smoking mind, I can write. In the cool darkness. No landlady poking around with the lawnmowerman looking at trees, no door to door salesmen selling new shingles or extermination services.

Just me and the writing.

Too bad I also enjoy sleeping too.

Stumble

Today was a wash on writing and I’m not happy with myself. I had a few days I had to take off and I’m having a hard time getting my momentum going again. Mondays are like that sometimes, especially if I have been out of town and my attention has to be someplace else. Today I started off with some really ambitious goals and unfortunately, I didn’t get any of them done. Not even close.

One of the big roadblocks came as a feeling that I am screwing up my life. This comes from years of ingrained behavioral response that most of us struggle with. The doubt that the work I’m doing isn’t going to pan out. That I should just “quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.” What I do know is a bad day of writing beats the hell out of being some minor cog in a machine of mundaety.

Tomorrow is a new day, and so I will try to do better.

That’s really just about all anyone can do. But the other way is something I am familiar with. Beating myself down to fit the mold that has been prescribed to me by my upbringing, by society, and by everything that I know so far. Unfortunately one thing that I learned is I hate how I feel when I have to take time off from working on the book. I lost three days. Sure, some of it I can chalk up mentally to research, but for the most part I feel like I was falling into old patterns. The old life of weekends and sleeping at “normal” times, and not being creative.

There’s a story about Samuel Taylor Coleridge and how he had an epiphany and was about to sit down and scribble out his greatest epic poem. At that moment, there was a knock at the door, and in the span of answering the door and trying to get rid of his caller, the poem slipped out of his mind forever.

The process can be frustrating, lonely, and difficult for those who don’t partake to understand. Most of the time I don’t understand it. Like tonight for instance, when 11pm rolled along and I finally felt about to break through my block, I dreaded that sensation of knowing that my mind wouldn’t shut the hell up until 3 or 4am. I’m still tired from the weekend, and the stress of the week. I do want to sleep at some point. Maybe I need to completely embrace my new normal. Unfortunately, that isn’t 100% viable right now. Especially on weeks where my son is with me and I have to supervise his online schooling. I hate that schools are still stuck on having to punch the clock and shoving that bullshit down our throats by proxy. I guess the metric to determine if teachers are working is to set up annoying Zoom meetings all throughout the day for the kids to attend.

Just FYI, the Zoom meetings are all pretty much kids jabbering into their mics because they aren’t muted and the teacher dealing with that chaos. There’s no real reason for it, other than to show their work. To prove to some bureaucrats in the state that the teachers are earning their keep. I feel bad for them, and for the kids, and I am pissed off that instead of being able to work my own schedule, which doesn’t conform with any conventional schedule at all, I am bound to this clusterfuckery myself.

Everyday these Zoom meetings are my Person from Porlock and they are doing their damnedest to interrupt up my own personal Kubla Khan. The rest is just me getting in my own way. Mondays are usually a wash, as I grind gears, adjusting to my schedule alone or with my son. It can be a real bitch sometimes.

ANyway, tomorrow I have a big chapter to flesh out, otherwise I would have worked on it tonight. Tomorrow is another day.