I’ve been getting a lot less sleep recently. That might have something to do with the little person who has taken up his abode in our house: the most demanding of houseguests. Hooting and hollering his way through the wee hours, he isn’t letting us get quite as many Z’s as we’re accustomed to. I’m talking about my infant son,in case you were picturing some kind of gremlin.
There are no shortage of people to gleefully tell you how little sleep you’ll get with a new baby. In fact, before you have one, it seems that there’s an unspoken competition to see who can break the most bad news to you. Labor is awful. You’ll never have any more free time. They’re so expensive.
All true (although about as useful as a chocolate teapot). Also totally worth it, because we quite like the little guy.
But, man, the lack of sleep.
You never really appreciate how badly your body needs sleep until you don’t get enough. Remember when you were a kid, and you resented having to go to bed before you were good and ready? Doesn’t that seem laughable to you as an adult? I had fairly serious insomnia for a couple of years, and it left me with a terrified respect for whatever it is that happens to your mind and your body when you’re under. No sleep turns me into a chapped-lipped, blank-eyed, crotchety subtweeting snark machine.
“Try caffeine!” someone brightly suggested to me, the other day.
Try sliding down a giant pineapple into a lake of sriracha.
You can’t fix that bone-weariness with a shot of coffee to the belly. It goes deep — through your marrows, creeping up your spine into the back of your head. Everything looks grey, and every situation is tinged with awful foreboding or barely restrained fury.
It murders your creativity. Recently when I’ve sat down to write it’s been like pulling pennies from the bottom of a jar of molasses. Not “writers block” — I’m not sure I believe in that — but something akin. It’s been a great exercise in trying (sometimes failing) to put in the word count even when it doesn’t come easy. At the moment I have three writing projects: this site, a fiction work, and a non-fiction work.
Time was, I’d have packed it in at this point, feeling that what I needed was some time to regroup, a chance for my brain to recuperate. I’m not doing that this time because I’ve come to realize that, whilst taking a break can be helpful, it’s not always the best way to do it.
Put it this way: you can go away and hope that when you eventually come back the wall will have crumbled all by itself. Or you can smack it with your head every day and hope that you’ll grind it down with cussedness.
My head is tired, and my eyes are falling out of my head, but I’m trying the latter.