What Would It Take?
Last Christmas I got the Rona.
A few months on, it was still delivering its symptomatic gifts.
One of the gifts was Insomnia.
Unfailingly, at 2am every night, I’d wake up with what could only be described as brain fuzz and a body that felt like it had accidentally slipped into rigor-mortis.
“Babe, are you okay?” Ads would mumble from his relaxed, cosy side of the bed.
He must have sensed that I had a rave going on in my skull.
“Just try to relax,” he replied, snuggling deeper into his pillow.
For months I lay there at night, mind rushing like it was on a quadruple espresso drip, trying every trick in the book to get myself back to sleep.
Then, one night, I wondered what my bastard muscles were even stressing about anyway.
I mean, why were they so angsty?
And because night time seems to amplify EVERYTHING (from the best ideas to the worst anxieties), the answers naturally came in thick and fast.
“You want to know why you feel like a paralysed shop manakin left out in an Artic freeze?” my mildly evil brain asked me, beckoning with a gnarled, snaky finger. “Want to know why you feel so tense?”
“Then come this way, little girl. Let me show you in boosted colour all of your past relationship breakdowns, failed attempts, aborted missions and messed up businesses. Let me lead you on a grand tour of lost opportunities, malformed projects and stupid decisions. Ready?”
And like a mute child in one of those horrible dreams where you have no choice but to go, I nodded gormlessly.
I was then taken on a journey of cinematic grandeur through all the delightful failures that I’ve ever experienced:
Brutal arguments with people that never got resolved …
The hurried funeral of my dad and brother where I never quite got to say goodbye …
Courses dropped just before the exams …
Campaigns abandoned …
Eventually I noticed a pattern.
Every scenario was a situation or relationship that had come to an end, but instead of being nicely tied up, they were messy.
So messy that their emotional entrails were literally dragging along behind them.
These spaghetti style innards were then bleeding into my psyche, water logging my brain, filling my veins with junk and rendering me more cranky and calcified than 3CPO when he malfunctions in one of those early Star Wars films.
“Bethan, you are REALLY bad at ending things,” I thought. “You need to tie some of this stuff up.”
As I thought that, my shoulders which I’d previously been wearing as a neck brace, dropped back into the pillow and relaxed.
Something had shifted.
I decided to follow the relaxation trail and continued thinking about endings, completion and how I needed to learn to complete things with grace and dignity as opposed to gore and entrails.
With each thought, my breathing became slower, my body relaxed deeper and the rigor mortis dissolved into soft release.
“Babe, what are you doing?” mumbled Ads as I climbed over him and out of the bed.
“Writing a list.”
Grabbing a pen and my journal, I scribbled a big long list of all the mucky endings that needed to be cleaned up and completed.
Then, over the following weeks, I worked my way through the list. Wrote letters. Returned items. Took things to the chazza shop. Said goodbyes.
With each completion, I felt myself getting lighter on some level. Angry, torn relationships that had felt burning hot, became cool and peaceful and balmy. Situations were cleared and feelings released. I felt free. Liberated. At peace. And, unsurprisingly, the insomnia started to resolve.
But as I worked my way through there were two items at the bottom of the list that I was tormented by.
Being a writer is something I decided to was going to do when I was 5.
If repeated thoughts are forged paths in our brains, this little mofo was the Grand Canyon of neural highways.
And by writer, I didn’t mean the sort of writer who writes a few little articles, blogs or creates non fiction coaching book such as Rebel Beauty For Teens.
The sort of writer I meant was someone who writes books that become films. Like Stephan King. Or Phillip Pullman. Or Alice Walker.
The sort who stitches together a Bayeux Tapestry of fictional complexity, invents grotesquely awesome characters and then juggles these made-up psyches and mind twisting plots with the finesse of a slick sword fighter who can dice an apple into twenty slices before it hits the ground.
THAT sort of writer.
“What would it take?” Ads asked me one morning.
He was propped up in bed drinking coffee. I was star fished on the end of the bed, writhing in frustration that I had no idea how to take on the mammoth task.
“It would take a bloody good coach,” I replied.
“And what will it now take to stick to your weekly writing goals?” asked Saskia, my newly employed bloody good writing coach, who I signed up with shortly after Ads asked me the previous question.
“I could post them on my blog.”
Question to Self: Oh God. What was I thinking when I said that?
Answer from Self: It wouldn’t hurt to document a whole bunch of self-inflected Chinese burns on my creative brain and then share the experience with some twisted voyeur readers. Right?
“Great idea,” declared Saskia. “I’ll look for your post on Sunday.”
That conversation happened last Wednesday.
Today it is Sunday and this is my post.
So, there you have it. This is how I exchanged insomnia for writing and the sly way life has coerced me into taking writing seriously and committing to finishing the stuff I so shamelessly start.
Out of interest, what would it take for you to complete the project that you are carrying around with you like a handbag full of rocks?
I’d love to hear what other people are doing / not doing / kept awake at night by.
Oh – and before I forget, here are the goals I’m setting for my week ahead.
(Feel a bit weird posting them but I guess they were the whole point of this post, anyway.)
Clears throat ….
One: Drink a load of coffee.
Two: Somehow ring fence 2 hours a day to write stuff (whilst sitting on my bed in a room that also acts as a laundry room, social gathering area for the whole family, dog hang out and occasional dumping ground for books and art equipment) all during the first week of the summer holidays.
Three: Flesh out the scenes for the next four chapters of the book.
Four: Read some stuff that makes me feel more writerly.