Monday, April 15, 2013

Why my alarm clock now seeks my death

Writing two books at once requires the moral support
of a stuffed Labrador retriever. Don't judge me.
I’m getting to bed late an awful lot these days.

Mind you, coming from a lifelong insomniac, that’s not exactly news. I began making up stories at the age of three because I couldn’t sleep at night and I was bored just lying there staring at the ceiling. (One of these days I’ll finally polish up that space epic about my favorite stuffed unicorn.) But lately I’ve been doing a lot better … except when the story ideas come knocking.

It goes something like this:

I lie down to sleep.

Brain: Hey, you missed something. What if [protagonist] cornered [secondary character] and said [really cool thing]? What about that, huh?

Go away, brain. I’m trying to sleep here.

You always say you’ll write this stuff down in the morning and you never remember. You could start a poem with [really cool line]. Grab a pen!

Stupid brain. Haven’t we had this discussion? Like, for years? And you know you won’t be working tomorrow if I don’t sleep tonight.

I don’t care. Ohhhh, look at this, I found a new way to torture [protagonist of different story]! You can’t imagine this without crying! You’ve got to write it down!

I’m good at torturing my characters. I need sleep more than I need that idea.

But this scene’s been kicking your butt for two weeks and here’s the PERFECT LINE that you will NEVER REMEMBER IF YOU DON’T GET UP AND GRAB A PEN RIGHT NOW … 

So that’s how I end up with bits like this, from a few different stories:


“I’d surely tell you were’t otherwise,” she said. “A funny little thing she must be, from her picture. Can’t be past ten year, and yet those eyes are a hundred years old.” She shook her head. “What did her father teach thee?”

“Lots of things,” I said vaguely, reexamining the photo myself. She was right; the little girl’s eyes were terribly ancient. My owners had eyes like that—even the best youth drugs on the market couldn’t take the years off their eyes. But hers were different somehow. As if her hundred years had been nothing like any of theirs.


“I’ve been dead. You wouldn’t like it.”


“But I’m on their side!” I protested.

“No, you’re not,” he said, his face hardening. “Because they’re not on yours. To them you are a tool, a useful device. No one deserves your loyalty who can’t be bothered to give you a name.”

I sniffed, and ached, and thought about that. Then I narrowed my eyes at [character] and whispered, “You’re loyal to them.”

“That’s different,” he murmured, and leaned back in his chair so we couldn’t talk anymore.


Then they found out they were all going to the same address. And then things got awkward.


“Fine. Damn it. Is there anything left?”

“Come and see,” she said.


And now you know why my sleep cycle is completely bonkers …

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