I don’t sleep well. It’s something I’ve been aware of for a very long time, but lately I see that it takes a real toll. I have a friend who’s been pointing out the health benefits of good sleep, for ages. I’m finally starting to see her point. The lack of sleep has caught up to me and I’m tired all the time. Yet when I lie down, after a long day of imagining sleep, I lie awake working through the stuff that has piled up in my mind all day. I don’t plan to be up late, or toss and turn, or wake too early… all of the things that lead to a chronic state of fatigue. It seems I’m just wired that way lately. (Mountains of things keeping me awake… but mountains only brought solitude and peace.)
As the mother of three kids in various stages of “out in the world,” there is plenty of stuff that bangs around in my big gray room. Inevitably, those things start spinning right about the time I lie down and try to sleep. My eldest, a daughter, just graduated from college and is currently driving cross country sold; one is now a junior in college, one is will soon be a junior in high school. Two of the kids are only mine for this school year but as the end of that year approaches, am increasingly aware of how their going off into other worlds will break my heart! (See previous posts on the “U.N.”)
It seems that as I look at life through a constantly changing lense, my brain is rarely quiet. While it seems that the things that keep me up just morph and change, more recently my writing has become an increasing source of wakefulness. I am figuring out what the next best step is, in getting my novel published. I’m looking at feedback and contemplating what I want to change, and what I don’t want to change in how I and what I write. As I lay there each night, I weigh the positive feedback as well as the negative, the unsaid things that make me look at my writing critically. My thoughts spin; and I lie awake.
Writing on this site is my outlet. I let some of it go here, or in some cases I just shine a light on the things that stir my brain, and that helps me figure it out. However the ins and outs of blogging sometimes only add to my angst, and fuel my self-critique. Why don’t I have as many comments as so many of the bloggers I follow? Why don’t I get as many likes, when I am so often liking others’ posts? What is missing in the writing that leaves my readers unresponsive? What do I need to bring to these posts that would improve my stats and my viewership? Why. Do. I Care?
I care because I want to be a writer. I want my stories to impact people and compel them to read more. I want to get it right, even as I figure out what feels right for me. I am keenly aware that I am getting older and that I want to be doing what makes me happiest. I want to be doing something that excites and challenges me, as my kids head out into the world to find what excites and challenges them. Writing is that thing, but figuring out how to make it my thing is a huge question mark.
And so I lay awake a lot and chew on these questions and issues. I chase my tail and stumble around in the dark. My head is a mine field, where some days I make it cleanly through to the other side and other days my thoughts explode and I have to dig out of the self-doubt and ambivalence. These are the things that go bump in the night; the things that bump me in the night. And so I lie awake. (Tonight I will picture these clouds drifting by, and hope to drift off…)
What keeps you awake? Or, do you sleep like a baby? If you do, share your secret! Leave a comment and tell me what you think.
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