Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Insomnia as occupational hazard

There are stirrings inside my head. Vague, muffled sounds. Yawning, maybe. Stretching. The rustle of a duvet. A creaking bed. A voice cursing the alarm clock. Mutterings about having overslept. [Sighs] Wonderful. My brain has woken up.

Blasted thing.

For so long now I've had it under some kind of control. Not that I've had it doing anything very useful. Just sort of behaving itself. Not being too destructive. Generally, keeping itself to itself, and only disturbing me when absolutely necessary. But I suppose I should have known this kind of thing would happen, all the use it's been getting lately. [Sighs] And maybe it's a good thing. You know, what with the whole doing an MA thing. A brain could be useful. Ordinarily. But still, my feelings are decidedly mixed. Granted, it has it's uses, but...

I mean, there's a good reason I've kept the thing sedated for the past five or six years. It doesn't bloody well shut up. Unlike me, of course, who can barely utter a whole sentence half the time. Or even a monosyllable the other half. Even when the silence becomes so achingly awkward that it's practically crying out for me to say something, anything, just so I don't seem like quite such a hopelessly introverted weirdo. But my startling lack of social skills are another matter for another time. If I can be arsed. Here and now, unfortunately, we're talking about that inescapable, chattering nuisance that passes for my brain.

We have a love-hate relationship, my brain and I. Yes, I will admit, grudgingly, that now and again it does deign to help me out. Just now and again. And only when it feels like it. But the rest of the time... gah! Jibber, jabber, jibber, jabber, blah, blah, blah; endlessly, with absolutely no care for consistency, contradiction, accuracy, relevance, or whether anyone's even asked it for it's goddamn opinion. On and on. Argh!

And the damn thing's no respecter of time of day either. Oh no. And that is where my biggest quarrel with it lies. Sure, I can cope with the thinking one thing, only to - within the very same second - decide the exact opposite, before deciding it's still wrong and scuttling off at more tangents, simultaneously, than I have the slightest hope of making sense of. I mean, that drives me absolutely bloody crazy, but I can just about cope with it. Most of the time. But what I cannot be doing with is, when it's been coaxed, bribed, threatened, dragged and cajoled into eventually, painfully slowly, producing some vaguely acceptable bit of writing by about 4:30am the next morning, whining, whinging, kicking and screaming the whole way; for it then, the second I finally give in and allow it a few hours sleep, to spring instantly to life, gleefully running amuck like some hyperactive toddler that's chanced upon the sugar bowl it's long suffering and now silently cursing mother forgot to hide. I really thought - hoped - I'd got it out of that habit. (I said "allow" back there; that wasn't strictly accurate. That would imply that I have some control over the monster).

There'd been signs, sure - a creeping, unsettling sense of something good beginning to happen had slithered it's way into my consciousness; a sense that perhaps with a little of that dreaded "hard work" type stuff I, perhaps, really can actually get somewhere in life. And I've been noticing too that my brain has been receiving visitors again, not that they've done more than nod to me as they leave. Unsavoury sorts, mostly: that treacherous impostor, Optimism; his flighty consort, Excitement; and that lapdancer of the emotional world, Fulfillment - so seductive, so tantalising, so close you can almost taste her, but always just out of reach. Still, the full picture wasn't yet clear; a veil of fog still draped over the mental landscape.

But last night, I knew for sure. The brain is not going to be silenced. Truly, it has awoken.

Monday night, I didn't sleep, even for a second. Still, maybe it was a one-off. Surely I'd sleep like a dead man on Tuesday. But no. A couple of hours in the evening. Then nothing. 6am and there I am, teeth clenched, clawing at the sheets, still listening to the wretched thing prattle away to itself. Oh, not about anything useful. Or even anything interesting. God, no. Some chance of that. But I think I caught another hour or so. It at least allowed me that. Just to taunt me.

Which brings us to now. It's 2am on Thursday morning. Earlier, I was granted a two hour nap. I suspect I should have refused it - let the tiredness build to the point of irresistibility. And beside me now is my bed. A double. All to myself. All the sprawling space I could wish for. The firm mattress, the plump pillows, the soft all-enveloping duvet. It certainly looks inviting. God, yes. But... but...

Is this what it's going to be like now? Every time I write? That lazy, recalcitrant brain of mine, leaping into life just as I finish, just to spite me, to punish me for making it do some work? Perhaps this is a hazard of the profession, being unable to turn off when you go to bed - ideas, hopes, dreams, constantly invading your mind; what should have been your sleep. I wonder. [Wanders off to consult a search engine] Google seems to be saying, yes, many writers are insomniacs. In which case...

Woo hoo! I'm making progress. In your face, sleep!


Taiga the Fox said...

Oh dear.
I hope you've been sleeping already.
If not, I suggest you see this.

If that doesn't help, I will send you two hyperactive toddlers. They're real and will share your double bed.

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

Thanks, Taiga. Wednesday night wasn't so great, but apart from someone rattling a spoon around their cereal bowl a little too loudly at 8am, I eventually had a wonderful, almost uninterrupted twelve hour sleep on Thursday. Even the cat was kind enough not to claw at the carpet outside my room for the whole morning.

I think I read something about that film once... It only took a few minutes, though.