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Sleep

I woke several times over the weekend and went to work on my thesis prospectus in the wee hours of the morning. Solutions to problems kept coming to me as I dozed off, found their way into the work in progress because I didn’t trust myself to remember them later. Going to bed at 11 PM quickly turned into working until 5 AM, then sleeping until later in the day.

It was great. Incredibly great. It’s been nearly a decade since I worked those kind of hours. It happened all the time before I started working in offices, but the demands of being somewhere at a certain hour meant adapting to other people’s patterns. Getting up early has become such a habit that I’ve organised much of my life around it.

I meet a friend for breakfast once a week, at an hour based on the fact I used to rise at 6 AM without fail. I have a certain degree of flexibility over when I go to the office and work on GenreCon, or agree to meet with my thesis supervisor, which would theoretically make it possible to start later in the day, yet I still default to starting at 9 where possible.

 

But for the first time in years, I can look at the fact that I prefer to work in the quiet hours of the morning and sleep late and see it as semi-regular possibility.

To Sleep, Perchance to Stay the Fuck Asleep

I’ve been waking in the middle of the night again. Three nights in a row now, for reasons I cannot adequately explain, although the safe bet is that it’s either related to the apnea, or related to the treatment that keeps the apnea under control.

This is coupled with a tendency to wake ahead of my alarm. Not unusual, for me, but what used to be a habit of getting up fifteen minutes earlier is gradually becoming forty minutes to an hour. I wake up lethargic and irritable, like you do when something rips you out of the deepest parts of sleep, and it takes me a good half-day to shake of the effects of that.

In short, it’s the worst run of sleep that I’ve had for a while. A worrying one, given that the tendency to wake in the night was one of the earliest warning signs of apnea, way back when I first started to notice things were going wrong.

One of the things I’ve learned from dealing with the apnea over the last six months: when things go wrong, look to the ruptures in your habits.

It seems simple on the surface, but small changes or lapses in my habits tend to have big effects on my sleep quality. Get lazy with my diet and put on a few kilos? I’m going to pay for that. Change my regular bed time by twenty minutes? I’ll pay for that, too.

Eat certain foods I know better than to eat? Leave cleaning my CPAP gear an extra day or two? Store my gear in a slightly different way? They all impact on my sleep and my ability to function the next day.

Being aware of that makes it easy to tackle a problem, once it becomes clear there’s something going wrong. I run through the things I’m doing differently, alter those habits and see if things clear up.

As in sleep, so it is with writing.

I’ve been tracking time-spent-writing and word-count achieved for a bout a month now, courtesy of some manual processes and the use of tools like RescueTime, and it’s amazing how often what I used to call a bad writing day can now be tracked back to a change in habits.

Turns out, I’m remarkably consistent in terms of word-count: a handwritten page takes me between seven and nine minutes to write, often split into two short bursts. Factor in the gaps where I figure out what comes next, or check Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr, and I average about four or five pages an hour.

When I have a day where I’ve written less than that, it’s usually a sign that I’ve gotten distracted in one of those gaps and not come back to the story. When I have a bad writing day I used to beat myself up, but now I look at stats and figure out where I’ve leaked time like a sieve.

It all comes down to habits and gaps. The gulf between between what I want to be like and what I’m actually doing.

The Sleep Thing, Blogging, And Writing Without a Net

rp_Sleep-Cyborg-150x150.jpgThe sleep thing. The apnea. The bad habit my body has developed of asphyxiating me a couple of dozen times an hour, while my body drifts into a REM state. I’ve called it all sorts of things over the last nine months, but it always opens up a quiet moment of panic inside me. It lies at the heart of a very specific debate I have, regarding social media and being a writer.

Because I do not know where the line is, when it comes to discussing it. It came up a few times, over the weekend, and figuring out when I’d crossed over into the territory where I’d become the guy banging on about something everyone else was done with got difficult even when the non-verbal queues were present.

I do, after all, have a tendency to bang on about things when I’m trying to figure them out.

Usually, long after everyone else is wishing I’d shut up.

And that presents some issues when it comes to blogging. This post is…well, not necessarily soliciting feedback, but it’s definitely thinking out loud.

A large chunk of my Melbourne trip was spent pondering the blog, and why I’m doing it, and what I’m hoping to achieve in 2016. The sleep thing is on my mind because I can’t quite pin down how it plays into my habit of talking about writing here. And, oh hell, is it on my mind a lot. I’m still trying to figure it out.

For me, there are two issues in play.

FIRST: ALL WRITER BLOGS ARE A CURATED EXPERIENCE

Decisions are made about what goes up and what goes down, even if the writer is making those decisions subconsciously. A blog may be honest, but it’s the kind of honesty you bring along on the first date, where you try to present the best parts of yourself in the hopes of charming a stranger into seeing you a second time.

Apparently, the version of myself that I bring on first dates swears a lot, yells a lot, and talks obsessively about writing. This qualifies as me representing my good side, which explains all sorts of things about my love life.

Most writers blog the shitty parts of their process. They don’t blog the self-doubt or the moments of loathing, the fear that things have finally reached their end-point and they will never get published again. You may see the occasional post about them, but they don’t become a theme.

When those posts appear, they will frequently be a one-off that curates the process as something faintly amusing – oh look, isn’t this quaint, I’m having a moment of doubt or fear, but tomorrow I will be my witty, charming self again.

Constant gloom is a terrible sales pitch, on a date or when you have written a book.

So you curate that shit out, for the most part, so you’re not sending a constant message with the subtext that you hated every minute of writing your book, ‘cause it was long and hard and the world is fucking insane, and there is nothing more terrifying than trusting your rent will be paid for by shit you made up inside your head.

And in this respect, the sleep thing presents a problem for me.

I’ve not been on a date since I started treatment – I’m not a date-type person at the best of times years – but in the back of my head, I’m utterly aware that one of these days I’ll have an awkward conversation that needs to be had. At some point during that courting phase, I’ll need to be yo, so here’s the thing, when I sleep…well, I’m hooked up to a machine that would make Darth Vader proud. This means there is very little chance of spontaneity when it comes to the subject of staying over and such.

I have the same problem here.

I’m blogging again. A lot. About writing.

And when it comes to the subject of writing, the apnea is omni-present for me. A problem that needs to be worked around, a millstone that hung around my neck for far too many years when the doctor thought symptoms were a sign of other conditions. It’s been nine months since I started therapy, and not a day goes by where I don’t think fuck, if we had just discovered this back in 2012 and started this process then…

Editing it out of my experience with writing is rather like trying to write a novel without using the letter Q. Technically possible, and an interesting exercise, but every now and then you’ll go searching for the right word and discover it’s off-limits.

My instinct is always to give a hearty “fuck you,” to limits placed on writing. And yet, consciously, I’m very aware that limits can be a good thing for creativity. When you’ve got something to work against.

So I waver, going back and forth. Mention it. Don’t mention it. I honestly don’t know.

TWO: LIVE, AND WITHOUT A NET

The number of times I’ve written a post this year, then deleted it because the apnea shows up without being the actual subject, it’s crazy. The sleep thing colours every aspect of my writing and it’s hard to curate it out of existence.

And it is not going away.

The phrase I kept coming back to, when I put together notes about blogging and 2016: perform live, and without a net.

Some history: I benefited a lot, when I first came to writing speculative fiction, from the community of emerging writers who were active on livejournal. Lots of people who were in the process of writing and selling their first few novels were in a space where they could write about their process and experience, sometimes in a brutally honest fashion.

I’d lurk and pay attention and generally take notes. That community of writers taught me a whole bunch of things about the business of writing that I didn’t know, at the time.

One of the phrases that stuck with me, from that era, is working live, and without a net. You do what you’re going to do, and if you fuck up, you fuck up. There is nothing to save you if you botch the trick and fall. If you fail, fail publicly and let people see the mess.

It was an enormous privilege to be able to watch a lot of writers figuring shit out in public and, sometimes, they did fuck up. They fell, and there was no net, and they lost readers or seemed like cranky mother-fuckers or they just plain hit the ground, hard, and broke things.

That’s not the internet we live with, anymore. Livejournal got hammered by the advent of Facebook, then disappeared into the wilds of Russia. Authors kicked off blogs on websites, which encouraged a different kind of posting and drew a different kind of audience.

But you can still learn shit, from seeing writers show off their warts. There is an advantage to working live, without the god-damn net, ‘cause you get to see the glimpses of real truth and frustration that exist beneath the curated, idyllic experience that gets present on the blog.

I don’t want to exclude the apnea from things because it’s so fucking common it hurts. A half-dozen writers I knew emerged when I first posted about it and delivered advice from their own experience.

Another three people I know have gone through sleep assessments in recent months and started on CPAP therapy.

I’ve had a handful of conversations with people who were like, well, how did you know? And the stories they tell me about doctors’ visits and exhaustion and falling asleep while driving cars begin to sound very familiar.

And the sleep thing? One of dozens of conditions that can derail a writing career. There are writers out there working around all sorts of shit: medical conditions, mental conditions, major life-upheavals.

My apnea was no small thing. It fucked with my life in all sorts of ways, particularly when it came to writing, and I’m only just starting to unravel some of the messes it made.

It still fucks with my life. It still fucks with my writing.

Writing about process or business or craft without acknowledging that is not presenting the best version of myself – it’s closer to outright lying.

AND THAT IS THE CONUNDRUM

Half of me wants to talk about the apnea far less. Half of me sees the long-term value of just being upfront about it. Both sides have pretty valid arguments for doing so.

It’s complicated by the fact that a blog is not really a first-date. Every post is the first time someone reads you work, a chance to make an impression and come off like a charming mother-fucker. But it’s also a second or third date for some readers, and a long-term relationship for others. It’s…

Well, that metaphor is getting uncomfortable for me, but I think you get my drift.

Blogs are complicated spaces when it comes to engaging with your readers. I spend a lot of time relying on instinct and luck, hoping to get it right, and this is one of those spaces where there is far more luck than instinct.

I don’t know if I’m going to get it right. I suspect I will not. I keep thinking up solutions – putting a little (context) tag next to apnea-related asides where I don’t want to explain things – but I’m not sure they’re the right move.

And yet, for the moment, I’m erring on the side of without a net. If acknowledging the apnea, talking about it, is going to be a fuck-up, I’m okay with it being big and spectacular and leaving me a mess on the ground.

The Sleep Thing

Sleep CyborgI run into people, from time to time, and they ask: how is the sleep thing? 

Usually, I tell them the sleep thing is fine. Way better than it was back April, when I was falling asleep in front of the computer. Way better than it was back in May, when the diagnosis of chronic sleep apnea became all kinds of official and they sent me off with a machine that’d stop me from asphyxiating while I slept.

This is not a lie. Compared to the state I was in at the start of the year, life is a magical wonderland full of candy unicorns. I sleep better. I concentrate better. I do not feel like I am messing up every aspect of my existence as a default state. I keep discovering all sorts of secondary problems – shoulder pain, neck pain, teeth grinding – that were basically linked to the apnea and have now cleared up.

The sleep thing is fine.

Except it’s not.

When you start on CPAP they make it very clear that it’s a therapy, not a cure. The apnea isn’t going away just ’cause you’ve hooked attached a mask to your face and let it pressurize your respiratory system so your throat doesn’t close up so easily. There’s a whole bunch of things that can make the therapy less effective, on a given evening.

You can pull the mask off in your sleep, for example, ’cause it’s not the most comfortable of things to wear. You can disrupt the fit of your mask while tossing and turning, you can go to bed with hay-fever. You can travel, and discover that the faint differences in the way water tastes from city to city becomes a major problem when you put it into a humidifier.

Stuff happens, is what I’m saying. More often than you’d want them too, all things considered.

And that means some days you wake up feeling like a normal person, happy and productive and able to interact with the world. And, some days, you revert. Not as bad as you were, right at the beginning, bad bad enough that you notice it and feel the difference. Bad enough that you’re aware of the line between treatment and cure.

And that’s cool, ’cause treated is so much better than the alternative. So much goddamn better, believe me, that it’s insane.

But it means re-learning how to live your life. It means, some days, you need to get comfortable with the idea that you’re not going to have the energy for everything you’d like to do. It means you have to re-learn the difference between just a little tired and feeling vaguely exhausted, ’cause your default state has been exhaustion for so long that it’s hard to tell the difference. It means you learn to check a screen every morning and gauge how bad things are going to be based on the apnea index and leak-rate the machine tracked overnight.

It’s not always bad. For example, you also discover that your tendency to do the introverts retreat after social events was exacerbated by the apnea, that teaching courses or doing a festival requires far less recovery time than they once did. And you can read books in bed again, without falling asleep the moment you open to the first page. That you can write for longer than 500 words at a burst, ’cause your attention span has a setting other than “kitten on speed.”

Eventually it sinks in that the sleep thing is a thing – it doesn’t go away, it just gets managed better.

So you set out to re-evaluate every damn thing in your life.

My current notebook fetish? Motivated by the sleep thing, and the attention that’s getting paid to the research around the effects screens are having on our sleep patterns.

My recent realisation that I probably need to give up drinking? Totally linked to the sleep apnea, since muscle relaxants are pretty much a guarantee that you’re going to experience longer, nastier breathing-related incidents.

My increasingly rigid refusal to stay awake past my designated bed-time? Entirely built around managing the apnea as best I can, ’cause every time I’ve broken that rule to hang with friends or go out, I’ve paid for it the next day, and the day after that.

At the same time that you’re evaluating, you fret about things.

Like the ongoing costs of the therapy, which are not prohibitive but are right up there with car maintenance as a thing you need to worry about, ’cause you’re going to be replacing masks, filters, and such for the foreseeable future.

Like, what happens when the power goes on, in a storm, and how you’ll get through the next day.

Like all those things that you fucked up, quite royally, over the last five years, and whether they could have gone better if you’d discovered the real problem years ago and started treating it then. Some days you play what if? and you find yourself getting angry.

And that’s okay. The sleep thing is a thing. It’s complicated and long-term and way bigger than you were expecting.It’s not on your mind all the time, but it is on your mind. It occupies a chunk of your mental real-estate that used to be devoted to other things. The sleep thing is a thing you’re going to think about, talk about, far more than other people want you too, ’cause it defines your life in so many little ways.

But that’s hard to convey, really, so you learn to stop. To say, yeah, better, when people ask, ’cause that’s what it all boils down to: its better than it was.

Not great, not normal, not cured, but you’re figuring it out.

And in the world of polite conversation, that’s close enough to true to count.

 

Home. I sleep now.

Home again, after four days of traipsing around northern Queensland. Nowhere near as wrecked as I should be, given I just spent four days delivering workshops and travelling, which may well mean the post-teaching/travel exhaustion I’ve come to expect in recent years is another one of those things that connected to the apnoea.

Still, it is good to be home.

I’m putting serious thought, post-trip, into abandoning the computer as a first-draft tool. A few weeks back I made the decision to abandon all digital screens after ten PM, turning off the computer, the television, and my phone a good two hours before I finally went to bed. This started putting a serious crimp in my productivity, but there was no arguing the fact that I was sleeping better and it stopped bad habit of staying up past bedtime in order to mainline a TV series or play a marathon game of Civilization.

Instead of writing, I’d use those two hours to edit print-outs of existing manuscripts and brainstorming ideas for new work, which meant I started digging out notebooks for the first time in ages. And since I carried all those habits with me, when I went away, the notebooks came along for the ride. Since they were easier to use than the computer in airports and such, I’d occasionally dig them out and scribble away in my scratchy handwriting.

Then the fine folks at iWrite in Townsville gave me a seriously pretty notebook as a thank-you for doing the session. We’re talking hand-stitched binding, lovely paper, one of those things that’s a joy to write in. And then today, when I went to Write Club with Meg Vann, I found myself getting bogged down tinkering with things I’d already written instead of moving forward on the projects I was working on. Not exactly unproductively, but noticeable slow.

Well, I thought, that was all kinds of bullshit. And when I got home I hauled out the notebooks I used while travelling, and proceeded to write another ten pages of stuff in half the time I spent at the computer.

I have some theories about why this was easier than typing, and I clear all the work I owe people by the end of this month, so I think I’m going to test my hypothesis by spending September going analogue. All notebooks and pens, all the time, for thirty days, in what’s easily the most disruptive month of the year I have in terms of writing.

If it works – and by works, I mean clears 30,000 words without feeling unnecessarily arduous – then it may be time to look at making a big change to the way I’m writing stuff. If it doesn’t, well, I haven’t really lost much. September is destined to be a pants month for writing anyway 

 

 

 

Total Microsleeps While Writing This Post: 5

Falling ASleep Mid-WordI don’t sleep well, not anymore.

I first wrote that in the opening paragraph of Horn back in 2007, when a kind of restless sleeplessness was one of the first things I knew about Miriam Aster. It was a trait we shared, to some degree, if only ‘cause I’m the kind of person who resists sleep like the plague. I enjoy being up late. I prefer being a night owl. I’m used to living with a kind of self-inflicted exhaustion when I found myself having to engage with other people’s daylight-focused schedules.

These were the stories I told myself, and for the most part they were true, but they ignored stuff: the weeks where I’d wake up repeatedly throughout the night, desperately needing to urinate; the nights when I’d wake myself up ‘cause I snored so loudly; the times when I’d go to bed and get a full eight hours sleep, but still wake up feeling exhausted as hell.

They were just bad nights, I told myself. The problems never stuck around long enough to be noticeable. Besides, I was a freelancer and I lived alone. I could make up the sleep debt with an afternoon nap if I wanted too.

Then, somewhere between 2011 and 2013, I developed this habit I jokingly referred to as stress-based narcolepsy whenever I started working long hours or hit particularly stressful periods. I’d drive home from the office, settle down to watch a movie or TV show, and be asleep on the couch within seconds. No real warning behind it – I didn’t even feel tired beforehand, necessarily – but it happened enough that my flatmate noticed.

No big deal, I told myself. I’m working hard. I’m adapting to being at an office. And it never really lasted more than a week or two, so I assumed it was situational.

I don’t remember when I started dozing off while writing. I do know that it happened at write club a couple of times – I’d literally fall asleep for a few seconds while my fingers were on the keys, waking up to a page of text where I’d held my finger on the J key while I’d slipped into a series of microsleeps.

It’s a testament to my own stupidity and ability to rationalise things away that this happened for over a year before I admitted that there may be a problem. This, despite the fact that I went on holidays with my sister in 2013, and shared a room with a friend of mine at the 2013 World Fantasy convention, and both of them pointed out there was something truly ugly going on with my breathing when I slept.

A lot of this is because it just seemed so stupid to admit that I had a problem sleeping. An actual problem, not a self-imposed one. Sure, something ugly happened when I slept, but I’d always been the kind of guy who could keep a house away with my snoring. Sure, I felt tired, but I’d always felt tired and it was often my fault for keeping erratic sleep hours.

So things kept getting worse while I pretended they weren’t. I slept through alarms more than I used to. My habit of dozing off at write-club turned into a habit of dozing off at work. What’d been the occasional period of sleeplessness had become a nightly thing. I was exhausted all the time, regardless of how much sleep I got the night before. I stopped going to stuff I was invited to, ‘cause I’d either have to leave early and admit there was a problem, or I’d stay later than I should and pay the price for days.

I stopped driving anywhere that took longer than twenty minutes, ‘cause I was seriously paranoid about falling asleep while driving my car.

It’s when that finally happened – I dozed off for a few seconds while stopped at a traffic light – that I finally went to a doctorWe went through the processes you go through when such things are said, ruling out possible-but-unlikely causes until we settled on the likely one, given my age, my weight, and the fact that I’ve been treating pizza as its own food group for a few years: Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The muscles in the back of my throat constrict the airway while I’m sleeping, forcing me to stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night.

It would be nice to say that having a name has changed things, but the truth is, it hasn’t.

For one thing, the best treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea is weight loss and establishing a regular sleep routine. The good news is that it’s really effective; the bad news is that it takes time, while you continue to feel pretty crappy and exhausted.

For another thing…it just doesn’t seem satisfying enough. I keep finding myself looking at apnea and thinking, really? This? This is the thing that’s making me feel like this? This is the excuse I’ve got to offer people when I shrug off their social event? It’s the thing I get to tell my boss, when I’ve slept through three alarms and arrived late for work? The moment I open my mouth to try and explain, all I hear is that phrase: I don’t sleep well. I feel a little tired. It seems insufficient, you know? Everyone feels tired, these days. No-one gets enough sleep. What makes this different?

I’ve read estimates that one in five people suffers from sleep apnea in some form, which seems kind of impossible. How are that many people getting through life like this? How are they explaining it to other people? I wouldn’t have believed it was a big deal, not until I really hit the wall and felt how bad it was myself.

I don’t sleep well, not anymore.

It seems like it should be such a simple thing to fix, but it isn’t. It get fixed by time and sensible steps: fixing bad habits, working around the limitations, tracking the hell out of my eating habits and sleeping habits. I schedule nine to ten hours for sleep, most nights, and it’s just barely enough to keep me awake the following day. I eat meals consisting of chicken breast and Brussels sprouts. I make notes about what I’m thinking and feeling whenever I fall back into old habits and, say, order pizza or purchase a pack of cookies from the shop intending to eat the entire thing in one go. I assume I’ll need to drive to work at least once or twice a pay cycle, on account of my unreliability when it comes to getting up and out the door in time to catch my train.

I schedule less writing time, which pisses me off no end, but I figure less productivity now is better than a prolonged lack of productivity in the long term.

What I haven’t done is accept that this is my life for the next short while. I didn’t tell folks, outside a small handful of people who I do freelance projects with, who mostly needed to know ’cause I was getting harder and harder to track down. I still try to skirt around the issue when I know I can’t go somewhere, instead of just saying, look, sorry, I’ll need to go catch up on sleep. I still try to pretend its not an issue and write ’til one AM from time to time, even though that’s a bad idea. I still get frustrated by the limitations of being so goddamn tired all the time, since my default state is now “I need a nap.”

But when exhaustion started kicking the shit out of my wordcounts in March – particularly when it came time to record my numbers for the 600k Challenge – I figured it was time to start admitting this and figuring out work-arounds. ‘Cause I don’t want to use this as an excuse not to write this year – I want it to be a hiccup that’s overcome.

If my favourite tactic of working longer and harder is no longer an option, it may be time to try that “working smarter” thing people are always talking about

Stories told, Stories Consumed, and a link to Cats Sleeping

There was no story unlocked when I walked across the Kurilpa bridge this morning, which is a matter of some sorrow to me. I was counting on that moment today, since I’m looking askance at the second chapter of Claw and trying to figure out what’s going to go in there. I know some things, yes: corpses, cheerfully gloomy coroners, a modicum of angst. It’s just the details that go around that I’m struggling with at the moment, writing a paragraph or two before thinking, no, that’s not right, and going back to the well for a new idea. I’m sure there’s something coming, sooner or later, but it isn’t quite there yet. Everything that’s been written thus far is weighed down by the burden of history, calling back to Horn and Bleed, and the thing that made me happy about the draft of chapter one is how much less of that it does than the last time I tried to write this story.

I’m not sure blogging will help solve the problem, but I can’t see how it’ll hurt, either.

Apropos of nothing, I’m going to take this opportunity to direct your attention towards the new ABC comedy, Outland (now avialable on iview).

There are very few television programs that actually make me wish I still owned a television that actually got TV reception these days, and short of someone reviving The West Wing, The Gilmore Girls, or the WWE being broadcast on free to air TV, I rather doubt there’s going to be one that’ll lure be back into the fold. I’ve been one of those curmudgeonly TV-less types for a few years now, absorbing my sequentially broadcast entertainment in one fell swoop courtesy of DVD boxed sets to the point where I now prefer it.

But Outland…well, Outland comes damn close to luring me back, and probably would have if the ABC hadn’t chosen to add it to their online viewer so fast. It’s a very sweet, geekishly joyful series about a Queer group of SF fans. It’s not a perfect show, not by a long shot, but it’s funny and there’s potential there and its a goddamn TV show portraying geek culture (and queer geeks) without being horribly mean about it.

In a world where the nearest analogue to this show is the highly problematic Big Bang Theory, that’s something to be celebrated and encouraged. And should Outland not float your boat, then I’ll just link to this blog full of the 25 most awkward feline sleeping positions and encourage you to make gooey noises at the litany of cute kitties so you won’t hear me talking about how wrong and lacking in taste you are.

Still in Sleep Zombie Mode

Say Zucchini, and Mean It went out to Daily SF subscribers yesterday, which generally means it’ll be up on their website for the rest of the world to see some time tomorrow. There’s some comments over on wall of the Daily SF fanpage in facebookland, which seem to indicate people have enjoyed the story.

Some people seem to enjoy the title too, which makes me glad since I once contemplated changing the title, and I can now be somewhat pleased with myself that I did not succumb to the temptation.

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Day two of the random insomnia, which Wikipedia tells me is actually Transient Insomnia, which is the kind of thing that amuses me in my current state of sleep deprivation. It makes me think that soon my insomnia will wander off and become someone else’s insomnia, which isn’t really pleasant for them, but at least we’re sharing and neither of us has to put up with it full-time.

Last night’s sleeplessness was accompanied by an upset stomach, which suggests I’m either getting sick or starting to stress about something that my conscious mind hasn’t yet caught onto. Past experience says that the latter is probably more likely.

Tonight is the fortnightly D&D night, if I haven’t lost track of the weeks, which means I shall indulge in stress release by smiting strange and eldritch evils in the name of Denithae, goddess of apples and fields and having a damn good harvest when spring is done.

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Facebook keeps suggesting that I click on ads about Mutant Gum. Honestly, I don’t think anyone has really thought that one through. I keep wondering if it’s gum that’s mutated, gum that induces mutation, or simply gum for those who have mutated.

Either way, I’m not buying, but it makes a nice change of pace from facebook trying to sell me dating services and advice on how to sculpt my body into some unfeasible Herculean physique. Not that I have anything against Herculean physiques, mind, but I rather suspect the advice will involve long stretches of exercise and weight training at some point, and I suspect I could go organize such things without facebooks help if I really desired.

 

 

Posts of a Random Sleep-Zombie

Very random attack of insomnia last night, especially since there wasn’t any of the usual triggers that set off my sleeplessness. In the old days I used to welcome such things, since I could just wander off and do other things and sleep in the day afterwards, but I am now a working man with a dayjob that starts in the wee hours, and insomnia has become a thing that I no longer care fore.

Things I should post about today, and would do so in more detail were I not yawning:

Jason Fischer’s short story collection, Everything is a Graveyard, scheduled for release by Ticonderoga Publications in October 2013. The collection’s slated to revolve around Jason’s post-apocalyptic and zombie-themed work, which is the kind of news that makes me extremely happy, if only because it’d be damn handy to have all those stories in the one place.

– The May issue of the Edge of Propinquity is up, including Sabbath, the fifth story in the Flotsam series. I suspect I’ll do a “what I’ve learnt from six months of Flotsam” post sometime in July, whereupon I’ll try and nail down exactly why writing a serial short story series on a monthly deadline is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and this story may well be the poster-child for both why it’s hard and why it’s been worthwhile.

Un Lun Dun, which has slowly re-insinuated itself into my readerly affections after the hiccup I mentioned yesterday and become, more or less, the kind of book I was hoping it would become when I started reading it a few months ago. Really, you should read it, especially if you’re unlikely to get as caught up in the concept of the binja as I did.

– Getting the dates wrong on my Daily SF story in yesterday’s post, since it’s coming out on the seventeenth rather than the sixteenth. So, yes, sometime tonight there will be a new story in the world, and it will be my last non-Flotsam story in a while.

– Something else, I’m sure, although I can’t really remember it. Oh, wait, I know: starting a new draft of Claw, the third Miriam Aster novella, that throws out a large chunk of what I’d written in the period known as last-year-before-my-life-exploded and substitutes something, well, good instead. I found myself unexpected scribbling notes for this last night, and suddenly the beginnings of an entire scene fell out of my head, and I looked at it for a long time and thought, “okay, sure, we’re going with this.”

Storms & Minotaurs & OMG, Sleep

You know how you're writing a story about the end of the world?

On the evening of my dad’s sixtieth birthday we were all sitting on the thirteenth floor balcony while a storm rolled in. If we were in a movie the rapidly moving sheet of clouds would have been the special effect that signified the end of the world is nigh, so we all unearthed our mobile phones and digital cameras to take photographs.

About fifteen minutes before I took the  shaky, blurred mobile photo featured in this post the view from the thirteenth floor was all clear skies and blue ocean, and it was pretty enough that even my jaded-towards-beaches approach to life acknowledged that it was a pretty good place to celebrate someone turning sixty.

I gave my dad a book – the Collected Stories of Gabriel Garcia Marques, ’cause everyone should read A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings – and a CD/DVD of Leonard Cohen’s 2009 tour ’cause we were meant to go to Cohen’s show last year, but dad’s heart-attack derailed those plans. Then the family collaborated to get him a kindle, ’cause it seems the thing to get a man whose using retirement to catch up on reading. Given my dad’s taste in fiction, and the existence of Project Gutenberg, he may never have to buy a book again.

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The inimitable Jason Fischer released a free ebook version of his story House of the Nameless, which won one of the quarterly contests in the Writers of the Future competition and scored him both publication and a trip to California to further workshop his writing skills.

A dinner at a minotaur’s house brings an unwelcome intruder. Raoul Mithras, a godling both old and new, is forced to pursue an old foe across a surreal landscape, hoping to prevent the awakening of the One-Way-World – if he is not destroyed first.

So yes, free e-book goodness, distributed to familiarize people with his work prior to the Ditmar vote closing since the Writers of the Future anthologies are hard to find in the Land of Oz. Hopefully, if enough people download it, he’ll put the rest of his Raoul stories online as well.

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Last night was a particularly low-key kind of night. I arrived home from work late, I did some paperwork for the second job I’ll be taking up in March, then I proceeded to rearrange my trip to  Swancon due to the fact that the money I’d earn for working the new job that day far outweighs the costs of messing about with re-booking flights and accommodation.

So I’ll be hitting Perth on Friday afternoon  rather than Thursday afternoon, and missing the first eight hours or so of the con, and hopefully I’ll still have the time to catch up with all the people I’d like to catch up with.

After that it was nine o’clock, so I went to bed with a notepad and scribbled Flotsam-y things for a bit, and then I fell asleep. This wasn’t what I’d planned, but tired writer is tired and all that, and I’m trying to get better about managing my sleeping patterns these days.

This afternoon I’ll probably add some more things to the big list of novels I’d like to write, a document that is already far to long given that I’m still working on the first entry, and I’ll rethink my stance on this sleep thing all over again.