Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

“O sleep, O gentle sleep, Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee? That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down. And steep my senses in forgetfulness?” William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2

You guessed it. I’m going through another bout of sleeplessness. I wish I could say that this nocturnal restlessness had to do with my writing life or the characters in my head elbowing each other for center stage, prodding me, shouting over each other to get my attention. If it were just that, I’d simply get up as I’ve done so many times before, go to my notebook, write down what I’d just heard and go back to bed. And typically fall back to sleep secure in the knowledge that my bleary-eyed scribbles and characters would be waiting for me in the morning.

 Yes, I did start a new novel a year ago and have added to it in bits and pieces. I’m doing more rewriting and fixing of those fifty pages (but who’s counting) than I’m supposed to be doing at the moment, but I know I will get on with the rest of the novel eventually. I’ve been here before and I know at some point I will get tired of taking out the same comma, fixing the same sentence over and over. I will go on and finish the novel. I’ve done it before and there is no reason to believe I won’t do it again. At least that’s what I tell myself, but uncertainty always seems to creep in even as (fists and jaw clenched) I try to hold it at bay. So I suppose this may have something to do with my current sleeplessness. How much, I don’t know. I do know I am happier and certainly more exhausted at the end of a day of writing.

I was pretty successful over the first three months of 2013 in getting back to a routine of writing in the mornings, working out, eating lunch, studying Greek, reading, and going for a run before supper. I was also able to sneak in a bit of meditation. I know it’s hard to believe. I’ve never been very successful with meditation. Okay, the meditation I do is on my terms. In other words, I mediate with a stopwatch so that it is timed and controlled and I can actually relax into it. I can hear you laughing.

I love routine. I know it doesn’t show. I hear your laughter again. It (routine, not laughter) makes me feel as though I’m moving forward, accomplishing. I’m a pretty disciplined person. But then I hate routine and discipline too and I wonder if I get bored with myself sometimes and do things (like obsess and focus on festival and other work) to shake myself, infuse some sort of excitement into my life.

Then again, I can’t put all the blame on the festival I organize. I have been able in the past to control that work by making it fit around my writing routine. There’s that ‘routine’ word again. So I know I can organize the festival and write and do everything else I need to do. I’m just not doing it right now. I’m thinking about the garden and all the things that have to be done. There’s another book tour I will be going on at the end of the month, which I’m excited about, more book clubs to visit (which I love), promotional material to get out, blogs to write.

Even as I write this I’m feeling overwhelmed. But really, so what? I’m always overwhelmed. Nothing new. My solution has been to put one foot in front of the other, make a list and get on with it. It’s the only way to get unstuck. And I am doing that, but not with the same energy. Because of course, I’m not sleeping.

But you know, I’ve never been a good sleeper. Maybe my problem has nothing to do with all the things I have to do or the fact that I’m not sleeping. Maybe it has to do with accepting who I am. I am not a good sleeper. Period. I’ll likely still be tossing and turning in my grave. So why not just accept who I am and stop making a big deal about it. Funny, I gave that advice yesterday to a friend. Accept your personality; stop trying to be someone else, I said, as though I was an all-knowing sage. Perhaps I should take my own advice. 


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