I flop over onto my other side. Awakening wide-eyed at some vague time in the middle of the night, I spent the last hour (ten minutes? thirty seconds?) rolling around and adding to the pile of tissues on the nightstand.
“This is total bullshit,” I state, to no one in particular. Mike is fast asleep, and the cat had long ago abandoned my lap for a more stable surface.
I sneeze, grab another tissue, blow my nose. It is total bullshit, almost cruel. Being so tired, yet unable to sleep. I flip over to my other side, pull the comforter tighter against the chill.
It’s almost as cruel as the life of a writer. There is so much rejection. For every “yes” I hear, fifty “no”s precede it. Why the fucking fuck did I try to do this? Why can’t I just be an accountant or something? Why can’t I just be happy?
Why am I trying to write, anyway? I’m a terrible writer. Earlier that evening I thumbed through a book of essays I’d sent a submission to over the summer, browsing all the gorgeous entries. My submission was terrible compared to the well-crafted prose I held in my hand. No wonder I hadn’t heard back from them, not even a courtesy “We’re not interested.”
I shouldn’t write when I’m in the middle of a depressive episode. Or if I do write, I should hide it away, show it to no one. Not send it off to an editor hoping the depth of my feeling comes across as anything more than dark and trite. I tend to grasp at overworked clichés when I’m depressed.
I sneeze again, which jolts me out of my thoughts. I remember my visit to the psychologist last week, my very first visit to a psychologist, ever. One of her observations that stuck with me was, “You need to spend way less time in your head. Journal. That’ll get it all out. Keep it out of your head, where it just spins around.”
I left her office feeling more anxious than when I’d entered. After arriving home I told Mike, “I didn’t think she was going to fix me after only an hour … but maybe I did think that.”
I turn onto my back. Grab another tissue. I’m going to wake up Mike if I keep at this.
Read. That’s what I’ll do. Read myself to sleep. But I have to go into the other room, so the reading light doesn’t wake him.
I grab my paperback from under the cloud of tissues on the nightstand. Fumble for my glasses. Pad into the living room and collapse on the couch, pulling the afghan up over me. But I’m so tired. I don’t want to read. I want to lay here. I want to sleep.
“What are you doing out here?” Mike says. I open my eyes and he’s standing over me, rubbing his own eyes with his left knuckle.
“I keep blowing my nose. I didn’t want to wake you.”
“I woke up because you weren’t there.”
“I’m sorry. I tried to be quiet.”
“I didn’t hear you. I just sensed you were gone. Come back to bed.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to keep you up.”
“Yes,” he says. I follow him back to bed. Just as I’m about to lay down, I get back up and retrieve some Benadryl from the medicine cabinet, the only stuff in there guaranteed to knock me out. I decide I’ve had enough of this bullshit.
– – –
I relate to this completely.
I used to avoid writing during “down” moments, and wiat for the “up” or Manic moments. Then I realized that I could never write honestly that way.
Now, I just write and wait for the rejection emails/notices to roll in. Because, like you, I’m a crappy writer who doesn’t know any better with 2 cats that like laps.
Lance recently posted…Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You
Haha, I know. I’ve been pretty good at it rolling off my back. It’s just that in the middle of the night, you’re vulnerable and whatnot.
Tyler J. Yoder
This – oh, this is where I’ve been for the past month or so. You’ll make it to a better spot, I’m certain of it. I’m sorry that you’re in that spot, that slump, just now.
Tyler J. Yoder recently posted…Post the Hundred and Thirty-Third: Quitting Smoking
Ah, yes. Writing is so up and down. I have a lot to be grateful for, it’s just that in the middle of the night, all your worst fears seem magnified…
Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha
Insomnia sucks!! I hope you can get some good sleep (and some lovely acceptance letters). I love your writing.
Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha recently posted…The Best Things in Life…
Thank you. Everything is always worse when you can’t sleep…
I get this. I get it. You are a beautiful writer. Inside and out. Boogie nose and all.
Julie DeNeen recently posted…The Easiest Handmade Winter Craft EVER!
Haha, thanks Julie!
Ice Scream Mama
I hear you!! i’m up and down that road with you. thinking maybe i’m good enough, then knowing i’m not and wishing i were better. it’s a life of insecurity trying to be writer, but i can’t stop… still, you’ve got to sleep. hope you’re feeling better.
Ice Scream Mama recently posted…Talk to the Spoon
Yes. I do pretty well during the daytime, but at night OH MY GOSH I’M SO TERRIBLE! 😉
Awww. That sucks. I don’t sleep well ever since I’m perimenopausal. And when I wake up, my husband is snoring so I can’t fall back asleep. At least it’s sweet that Mike just likes you to be there!
Stacie recently posted…Comment on The End of NaBloPoMo 2013 by Sam Merel
I know, I thought that was a really nice thing for him to say. Sometimes he surprises me.
I can totally relate. In the middle of the night, I absolutely know that everything I’ve ever written is total crap … and I’m not even depressive. You’ve painted a vivid picture here. I enjoy your writing, and I hope you are feeling better.
Linda Lange recently posted…PLEONASMS, OR PASS THE TUNA FISH
Haha, exactly! You get it. During a sleepless night, I am THE WORST.
I hate nights like that. They make everything so much worse.
And I think all writers feel that way sometimes. Even the ones who make a good living at it. It’s part of being what my friend calls a “maker” – someone who creates.
For the record, I think you’re a fantastic writer. And I like to think I’m pretty discerning. 🙂
Suzanne recently posted…The Many Faces of Snow
I like that – the idea of being a maker. Thank you. I know during the daytime when I’ve had enough sleep that I’m not terrible. It’s those pesky night terrors…
Suzanne is so right! You are a “maker”, a creator – it’s a gift, and you are gifted at it. Don’t let that shitty cold and the holiday blues get the better of you. Keep creating, and write your way through to the other side. xo
Karen recently posted…Just A Few Reasons Why Thanksgiving Leaves a Bad Taste in My Mouth
Thank you. I love it too much to ever give up. The practical side to me is such a cold-hearted bitch. 😉
Yeah, being sick and unable to sleep is the worst sort of torture, especially when the cats desert you!
You can wallpaper your office with the rejection notes when you get to be a famous writer. Then you can point and laugh at them all. How’s that for motivation?
Tina recently posted…Tush
I know. Doesn’t she know I need her purring on my lap? 🙂
I was here yesterday thinking I didn’t know what to comment because it sucks so bad to feel as you do/did…but then I was still up at 3:30 this morning and I thought ” Are you an idiot?! You don’t know what to write!?”
Haha. We ALL have those moments. 🙂
Hey at least you’ve heard a “yes”. I’ve gotten all no’s or crickets so far. You are an excellent writer!
Keep at it! I practiced for a very long time before I heard my first yes. 🙂
I SO relate to this. I’m currently going through a depressive episodic, “I suck and nobody likes me” phase with a side of writers block. I’m a glutton for punishment. After trying to make a go of acting and music, now I want to be a writer? I really should consider clown college at this point. You have mad writing skills Natalie. This too shall pass. Hope you’re feeling better, Snuffaluffagus.
Linda Roy recently posted…Twisted Mixtape: Rockin’ Christmas
Haha. I’m trying acting next. 😉 Thank you, Linda. We are all a little more vulnerable when depression rears its ugly head…or when we aren’t sleeping.
I’m glad Benadryl did the trick.
Me too! I needed the rest.
A Pleasant House
Insomnia sucks- but your writing does NOT! If you quit I’ll be up all night wondering what you’re doing or thinking, which will leave me wide awake and then I’ll have to DM you we’ll both be up! You see the circle here? XXOO
A Pleasant House recently posted…The Benefits of Virtual Conversations
Thanks, Cheryl. 😉 I only feel that way in the middle of the night. It’s my version of monsters under the bed.
I’m physically sick and tired too, but I’m trying to get over my own personal pity party. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t feel the sun’s presence for another four months, and am actually enjoying Christmas music for the first time since I stopped working retail in 2006 (this is a real baby step, but a step for me). I’m going to fight my mini-depression by focusing on what I have, not what I have not.
And how dare you think you can’t write. We all envy your voice. (p.s. my mother was much harsher to me to get me to snap outta my funk).
Chris Plumb recently posted…I Don’t Need Anybody and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves For the Holidays
It’s always the middle of the night when this happens…during the day, I’m fine. Like a vampire. 😉
Oh, I totally know this feeling… I’ve been coming to realize that a lot of what I write is just utter crap, but in the end all the crap ends up paving the way for the stuff that’s gold. Keep trying. Keep writing. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.
nikkiana recently posted…Twisted Mixtape: Holiday Edition
That’s what I tell myself, too. 🙂
I’ve had those bullshit, sleepless, miserable nights before. Oh, and you shouldn’t doubt yourself because even with this little piece here, I think you’re a fabulous writer. Will be following you now.
CB recently posted…You Can’t Save Them All
Thank you. I am always crankiest in the middle of the night…
I can totally relate. Especially with the rejection spiral. I’ve felt like that a lot lately, which created a spiral of self-doubt. I’m learning that the only cure for it (for me, at least) is to just keep at it. For what it’s worth, I LOVE reading your blog.
Christine Organ recently posted…The Only Antidote for Doubt
Thank you. Middle of the night plagues are the worst. Lately I’m pretty philosophical about it, except when the demons come out at night…
If only we didn’t need to sleep in the first place. I guess it makes sense we are all so alike…
Kristin recently posted…Joy and Happiness
Absolutely. That’s why they say writers are neurotic. 😉
Once again, you’ve written something I can 100% identify with. Right down to the muttering in the night about how stuff is total bullshit.
Michelle Longo recently posted…Thirty Days.
Haha! Muttering in the middle of the night. 🙂
Just because you get a rejection does not mean that you cannot write! What you have written was not right for that publication. Just as every man could not be your Mike. You found the right one and the right one will find you.
William Dameron recently posted…Word Vomit
In the light of day, I know this. At night, when I’m cranky and vulnerable though… 🙂 Thank you, Bill. You’re absolutely right.
Samantha Brinn Merel
Oh those wide awake middle of the nights are the worst, and I completely understand that feeling. Sometimes it takes a little change of scenery, some trusty benadryl, and a handsome guy who doesn’t want to sleep alone to soothe you back to sleep.
Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted…My Story
Exactly. We don’t need that bullshit. 😉
I can totally relate. Writing does really work one way or another, and so does a good Yoga Nidra recording. Or ASMR videos on You Tube. The idea is a little creepy, but they work. At least you’ll laugh about having tried them. Good luck. 🙂
Samantha S recently posted…Reaching Back for Me
I’ll have to check them out… 🙂
Dude! Perfect timing!
I’m in the middle of reading “The Paris Wife” – historical fiction about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife and, by association, Hemingway – and he’s going through this, too! In the part of the book I’m at, I mean. Not right now. He’s dead. I really hope his nose isn’t as sniffly as yours because being dead with a sniffly nose would suck completely.
My point here being – you and Hemingway are in the same place (in my world) right now with the Writing-Isn’t-Doing-What-It-Is-Supposed-To-Do thing! Well done!
If it helps, and I don’t know why it would because it’s not like I’m a published author, but…I will not work on writing in November or February. And this year, I’m booting December, too. You’re totally allowed to do that. Ok, maybe you’re not, but I am and I am more than happy to share with you.
Erica O recently posted…Cat pee on my shoulders…makes me stinky
Haha, yeah me and Hemingway, one and the same. 😉 And I took a few days off writing and feel more centered and I miss it, so of course I’m getting called back into the abyss… 🙂
I so feel this. I think I’ve had the same cold/cough for three weeks now and hate those thoughts. I think you’re a great writer. For real.
Kristi Campbell recently posted…Favorite childhood memories
Thanks, Kristi. I think the physical weakness just exacerbated the effect…
Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real.
Oh. Yes. Well, it seems you’ve joined me in MY head! The rejection is really awful, isn’t enough? Almost enough to make you quit. Almost. But please don’t. You really are gifted. Your voice connects with me so gracefully and powerfully.
Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. recently posted…The Importance of Family Rituals
I couldn’t quit, because I love it so much. 🙂 Yes, it is awful. But I’m grateful I have so many people who can commiserate with me here on the internet… 🙂
Your writing is gorgeous. This piece is gorgeous, because you capture the real and the gritty so well. There is never a good time to get rejection, but when you’re in a bad space, it is especially crushing.
Ilene recently posted…The Bridge
Thank you! Exactly. I’m mostly fine about it – except in the middle of the night, when I’m not.
There is nothing more annoying than being woken up by your own sneezes and runny nose. That happened to me last week. For THREE hours in the middle of the night. That and writing. That’s annoying too. I’m going through a writer’s block right now and your psychologist’s advice would apply to me as well. I need to spend less time in my head.
This, by the way, was masterfully crafted. Don’t judge yourself too hard. We all have limitations, most of us are not aware of them. Identifying your limitations brings you closer to managing them. And there I with my cliches…
Katia recently posted…Becoming a Grownup Cliché
I know. And thank you. I’m my own worst judge, especially at three in the morning.