Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Joys of Snow and Insomnia

Well, this is the third day we've not been able to leave the house and after hours of shoveling snow, I found myself for the first time in months dealing with a bought of insomnia. Did I lie in bed, tossing and turning? Did I spend hours
staring at the minutes on the clocking droning silently? Well, yes I did for awhile actually. Then somewhere between toss and turn I found myself daydreaming (yes at night) about what I'm writing at the moment. I allowed my mind the right to tick along when it could have been sleeping and in those restless hours lying prostrate, I worked out most of the immediate obstacles to my imagination. The joy of fiction writing is that there are no problems than cannot be ironed out by applying and expanding one's imagination. The limits of your imagination are the only real limits there are; this is probably one of the reasons I enjoy writing so very much.
By 3 am I had worked out just about everything I had been struggling with in the last week. Then came the choice: allow my mind to drift off to sleep or commit the cardinal sin of recovering insomniacs and get out of bed. Well folks, I'm a sinner. I slid out of bed, careful not to disturb my snoring husband (who seemed to be having his own sleep issues last night from the discussions he was having with himself) and made my way down the darkened hall to my moonlit office. It was wonderful to see the results of the nearly three foot dump of snow we'd received yesterday. By the late afternoon the clouds disappeared revealing a wonderfully orange sunset, but at this early hour of the morning the big bright moon overhead left a light over the woods around our home like something akin to a fairy land. So I sat in the darkness, lit only by my computer, looking out over the magic below and felt even wider awake, but somehow more at ease and in sharper focus.

Bleary eyes cleaned away, I was ready to sit down and spill the last several hours of hard thinking out on the electronic page. And I did. In the next hour I had written ten full and thick pages (nothing polished or beautiful, but complete).
I returned to bed happy and satisfied as if I'd just finished Thanksgiving dinner and slept like a baby until 9 this morning. Murdoch's character Moy has a period of time every morning (she calls it her white time), where after dressing she lies on her bed for half an hour and stares at the ceiling preparing for the day. I have a feeling that this was probably Murdoch's habit as well (though we will probably never know). I think hours spent simply planning and thinking about things are the most important habit a writer can get into, besides writing obviously. The more I've planned the fuller and thicker the pages are, the more confident I am that I am doing the right things for the progression of my characters and the story. When writing works it is the best feeling in the world, but when it doesn't it is a misery. Those miserable times for me come from the fear of not knowing where I'm going. Maybe insomnia is just a part of being a well planned writer. J.A.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it amazing what can happen in the night? Thoughts coming, imagination flying, and then you go and record it all in the lovely moonlight quiet, and if you're like me you wake up the next morning and the time you were up in the wee hours seems kind of a faraway memory. Congrats on those ten pages! Thanks for joining my blog!