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 clichΓ©s 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.

Sleepless Night

– – –


Wide Awake — 60 Comments

  1. 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 YouMy Profile

  2. 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 SpoonMy Profile

  3. 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. πŸ™‚
    Suzanne recently posted…The Many Faces of SnowMy Profile

  4. 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…TushMy Profile

  5. 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!?”

  6. 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’ ChristmasMy Profile

  7. 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 HolidaysMy Profile

  8. 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 DoubtMy Profile

  9. 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 VomitMy Profile

  10. 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 StoryMy Profile

  11. 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. πŸ™‚
    Samantha S recently posted…Reaching Back for MeMy Profile

  12. 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 stinkyMy Profile

  13. 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 BridgeMy Profile

  14. 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 ClichΓ©My Profile

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