Humans have no way to determine if insects sleep as we do, but they certainly rest, and we call that rest “torpor.” My question is, do writers sleep? If I had to answer that, over the last few weeks the answer would be a resounding “No!” Or at least, a “I sleep really poorly.” It all started when I was writing a short story, and feeling the momentum carry me, I pushed and pushed through the early morning hours until I completed my draft. It was quite rewarding, as those moments can be, but before I went to bed I noted the time, a little past 5 a.m., and I knew I was in for some trouble. I just didn’t know I would be in such a terrible pattern for so long. Even when I’ve managed to power through my own special “torpor” of a day without sleep, after I have hit the hay at a good hour, I am awake four, three, or two hours later. It is dark out, the world is asleep, and my only explanation is maybe I was a moth in a different time or place (at least it is the only one I will consider in my current state of sleeplessness).
There is an odd byproduct of this erratic insomnia for me: I am awake and rested at one of, if not my most, productive writing times. I tend to focus, think and write most clearly during the late, lonely hours. I swear at times the air is clearer and my head is lighter, as if it were a radio station transmitting during a favorable state in the ionosphere; I can hear my own thoughts without any static. The quiet stillness of the night can be sad, inspiring, beautiful or terrifying; possibilities both good and bad seem to flow more freely. And so it was this morning, riding the crest of the quiet hours, that I finished writing a different story. I did lose steam toward the end, the dryness in my eyes and the ache in my lower back telling me I was crashing. They are actually still telling me that as I type this, but I’m hoping to push through again. I always have come around (eventually) to good sleep; I’m not seriously afflicted like many unfortunate people. So now is the time to hang on steadfastly. Maybe like the cuckoo bee pictured above; perhaps my torpor will be more insect-like, at least a prelude to rest, and not in vain this time.