Okay. I should be honest with you. I hear that’s the best policy. I have not slept between yesterday and today. For me, this is still yesterday. Yesterday won’t let go. It’s clinging on. It’s stalking me. It’s marched into today, arms locked around my throat, refusing to jump down off my back.
Things are a little foggy on this Thursday night. I need to get some sleep. So, here’s the deal. This is going to be a short one. Let me stress that again, this HAS to be a short one. I need to switch my brain off for a few hours. And, before you say anything, this is not some old Looney Tunes skit about how I’m going to shut up the moment I stop talking. No, I genuinely am struggling to think straight. My body clock has sailed off the map and now we’re in uncharted territory, my friends. We are drifting into the numb sea.
I only see one way out of this. We need to stampede to the end. We need to put our heads down, lock arms and charge for familiar horizons.
Christ, I am so tired.
For the record, I used to be able to do this. I survived on around two hours sleep a night for a good long time, back in my very early twenties. I’d sit up, watching movies or some great, late night TV. True, there are times now when I’m still convinced that I might’ve dreamt Duckman, but it’s okay. I’ve seen box sets and some clips on YouTube out there. I know it did exist.
Man, when that lack of sleep caught up with me, it truly ran me into the ground. I remember sitting in a nightclub in Preston, watching the lights project onto the wall. They were moving, strobing, changing shape. Then, in the blink of an eye, the lights stopped moving and the wall took over for them. It zigzagged. It spun. It flashed on and off. It pulsed and twisted and my mind pretty much split open at the sight of it. I had to abandon the night out and get back to the house I was staying at. I remember collapsing on the sofa at around ten at night. Then it was the next afternoon and I felt curiously light for the first time in ages.
Of course, there had been other signs things weren’t right before that. I’d kept seeing things move in the corner of my eye. Nothing definable. Nothing solid. Just a shadow. A shapeless, murky blur. I only ever became aware of it when it moved. That used to catch me off guard some days.
This latest minor, one night lack of sleep (which my teenage self would laugh at) was caused by a number of factors. One of which is happening right now. The writing is taking over. I’m getting close to finishing the second novel and it won’t let me leave it alone. I’m getting up earlier. I’m writing when I get home.
I was aiming to get around page 80 or so by the end of this week. I’m at over 120 and there’s a part of me that needs to push on. I’m so very nearly at the home stretch and that part of me won’t rest until I get there. Until I see the words THE END. It’s the same part of me that’s now typing this.
I hate the idea of not writing. Blog, novel, podcast script, story. I can’t switch this off. I don’t want to switch this off. I know this is going to sound a bit grandiose and insane, but that’s okay…because of the lack of sleep. My writing is pretty much how I define myself. Some people would feel the same way about their kids or their career. I’m sorry. That’s not me. I’ve always wanted to write stories. I am writing stories. I don’t intend to stop writing stories. Not even when my brain feels like it might be a little bit on fire. It’s who I am. It’s how I justify being here. It’s also my drug of choice.
Take tonight for example. I decided to lay off the novel rewrite until the morning. Take some much needed time to sit in front of the TV and let the twitching in my brain settle down. Only I couldn’t completely stay away from the keyboard. If the novel was in the wings, then it was blog time. So, here I am. Five hundred or so words in and pushing past the exhaustion.
I actually feel better doing this. That’s nuts, right? I’ve been on a computer all day at work and felt like I was auditioning for a role in The Walking Dead. Get me home and let me rant on my own keyboard, suddenly I feel like my old self again. All be it a pretty thin stretched and groggy version of myself.
I really should be able to switch off when I need to relax. Only the novel’s trying to eat me alive before I’m done with it and there’s more to do beyond it. Scripts, submissions, the next novel. When I finished Something Needs Bleeding, I couldn’t turn my computer that morning. Hell, no. I opened a blank file and figured out what was next on the list.
Tonight, after this is done, I’m going to sit and ignore the TV. I’ll be all too aware of everything else I should be doing. It won’t be long before I’m on my phone or fiddling with the back of the remote.
The next couple of weekends are going to be tough for that. Social gatherings, house visits, Mother’s Day. It all eats into the weekend writing. This year, it’s been at least one day out of the two day break that gets given over to the typing. I’m already looking for gaps where I can squeeze this in around people for the next fortnight and I don’t see what’s so wrong about that. This is my passion. This is what I love to do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to see people, but I’m getting pretty good at this. I know where I stand with fiction. I also know that I’m not sleeping right and I’m not exactly Mr Fitness 2018. Time is always a factor in my head. My body clock could care less about babies but, oh my word, how it’s racing to find some sort of success. Some sort of recognition. Something that makes the amount of my life I give over to this seem okay.
Okay, I just moved onto a second page. I guess I’m getting close to 900 words. If this is going to be short, I don’t want to trip into the low thousands if I can help it. Then it’s downstairs to help out and relax. Or try to relax.
Why can’t I relax? I used to be able to sit and do nothing. I really did. I used to lie in as well. Anything before midday on a Saturday was seen as blasphemous. I’d lie in until the hangover got comfortable, then it’d be time to get up and find out what everyone else was up to. I’d read comics, listen to Morphine albums. Head into town for a burger and a pint or two.
I used to love a little low fi indie and some early Hellblazer back issues. I’m not sure I can do that at the moment. I came into 2018 knowing I wanted it to be a big year and I think that decision has become the pace setter. The other week, every evening was given over to rehearsing for the reading. Now every evening is about finishing the novel. I wonder what’ll be next? I’ve got other stories to write and a really interesting idea for a third novel. I guess I need to work some sleep into that schedule as well, right?
Right. That has to be it.
I could keep typing, but things are getting a little hazy. Time for food and sleeping on sofa cushions. I’ll try to be more lucid next time, I promise. Maybe talk a little about the new novel. Who knows, I might even have sent it off by then. We shall see.
Oh yes. We shall see.