When I finally managed to become a full-time writer, the one thing I wasn’t expecting was the lost sleep.
It’s not so chronic that it could be called insomnia, but there are long periods when I’m writing my books that are clearly defined by one thing. Bleedin’ characters waking me up at around 4.30am to poke and prod me about a plot point or development. An idea for a set piece sequence might rouse me, or the motivation for a secondary character’s sudden burst of violence might cause me to toss and turn. I might have to sit bolt upright because of a sudden realisation that a I have to kill this one or that one to give my plot an added burst of momentum.
So why are you complaining, you ask…. isn’t this all adding to productivity, the onerous word count, the dreaded deadline? Well, yes…but why does it have to come to me with such a bolt at an indecent hour? I quite like my sleep…I definitely like my bed.
In an effort to facilitate a swift return to the land of nod, I have tried all sorts of things. First was the pen and notepad by the bed. Now, in theory that is all well and good, except I tried to do this without putting the light on so as not to wake the Mrs. I’d scribble down my creative titbits and nestle back into my pillow secure in the knowledge that the inspiration had been captured for use later. Except… at that time of night my handwriting is a bit like a spider who has enjoyed a few light ales, a half bottle pf whiskey and a late-night curry before knocking over an inkpot and scurrying across my notepad. Indecipherable? Pretty much. It might as well have been written in hieroglyphics.
Next up I tried using the voice notes recorder on my phone. Scrabbling half-awake to get to my phone, wake it up, remember my lock screen code, find the app, get it going and then start whispering into it like a wildlife presenter in the midst of a whoop of gorillas. This didn’t work. Because when I listened back to these mid-night musings, I sounded like I had downed the beer, the whisky and the curry. It also caused the Mrs to stir…not good!!
So, what’s an insomniac scribbler to do? I gave up and gave in. I get up, pad to the bathroom, get my dressing gown, affectionately known as Wuffly Bear in my house, and descend the stairs. Now this sounds all well and good right? Wrong! We have two cocker spaniels. They sleep at the foot of our bed. If I get up they instantly assume it is either a) breakfast time or B) breakfast time. Our bedroom has wooden floors. The food dance then breaks out, where our dogs spin in celebration of their imminent feast. This sounds something like a Hollywood studio floor when Fred and Ginger are going at it for all their tap dancing worth. Little claws pinging about the place at four in the morning. Needless to say, the Mrs stirs.
So, I have now developed an almost stealth like method of sliding soundlessly from under the sheets and across the bedroom to fetch Wuffly Bear. As you can imagine this takes patience and time. When I eventually make it down the stairs, it’s laptop powered up, kettle on, backside in chair and write. Phew!
My first two books have been crafted in this manner, and whilst I am usually a grumpy sod due to lack of sleep, I have to admit that in these moments, I am actually quite chipper, because at the end of the day I’m very blessed to be able to spend my days (and nights) pursuing my dream of being an author. So what if it wakes me up? So what if I have to creep round my own house like Santa Claus on the 24th December? I’m the lucky one. I get to be creative and hopefully, along the way, readers will be thrilled, enthralled, surprised and entertained. I can think of no other pursuit that it’s worth losing sleep over. I’m very blessed. The Mrs on the other hand…