Falling asleep

I am wide awake this morning. As I was last night, trying to fall asleep. Ideas for dialogue, plot development, even a short story (I never write short stories!) kept popping up like little literary jack-in-the-boxes in my mind, and I kept turning onthe bedside table lamp, dragging my notebook out and scribbling down what I thought my unconscious meant. It seems my brain works best creatively when the lights are off and I’m on my back with my eyes closed. Perhaps I’ll try this at my computer desk, to pull a little trick on my brain–shut the blinds, turn the lights off, lie on the sofa and pretend to go to sleep.  Something tells me, however, that my brain wasn’t born yesterday, that it won’t be so easily duped. That it will keep putting out its best work when I really should be sleeping.

The key ingredient for my writerly waking nightmares is wine, I think. I always have a glass at night with my husband. Well, okay, a glass and a half. Our pours are big. And when I settle down for the night, my brain–juiced on wine–is still partying. This is my brain (picture a grassy area, blue sky, maybe a bird singing), and this is my brain on wine (picture a sleep-deprived toddler’s pony-ride, bouncy, puppet show-juggler birthday party on that same grassy area, lightening and thunder and perhaps a hail storm thrown in for good measure). In the mornings, I read what I wrote down as I was trying to fall asleep, and am horrified (if I can read what I wrote, that is) at the level of sappiness I have managed to conjure. I can recall thinking as I wrote down the ideas that I’d never before come up with something so profound, so tear-jerking, so downright poetically beautiful. That I would be  showered with accolades, maybe even win prizes and awards! I’m still not sure how a writer has to go about getting one of those prestigious awards…but if there IS an award for stupid sappiness, my nighttime writing should win it.

Every once in a while, I do come up with something semi-usable. For instance, the other night I thought I should research the origin of the word “sound.” On the Outer Banks, there are several such “sounds,” and my characters are constantly traveling across them in skiffs and rowboats. I recall that when I was little, I didn’t understand what my parents meant when they referred to “the sound.” It seemed highly mysterious. THE SOUND. The sound of what, exactly? If anything should be called “the sound,” it should have been the ocean, for it’s much noisier than the other bodies of water. So I think I’ll research it’s origins and usage, to better understand these bodies of water and their meanings in my books. I’ll keep you posted!

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