Monday, April 28, 2008


I am having one of my periodic wrestling matches with insomnia, which, in my case seem to be related to the same part of my brain that does the heavy lifting for storytelling. For me insomnia is invariably a can't get my brain to stop whirring problem and one that feels like it feels when I'm processing story.

There are variations:

The worry whirr, in which I can't get my mind off some care that I can't do anything about.

The engineering whirr, in which I am working on a project of some sort and end up spending hours on design issues that I could solve in minutes with a piece of paper a pencil and some measurements.

The genuine story whirr, in which my brain picks away at some aspect of the current w.i.p. and won't let go even once I solve the problem.

And tonight's special joy, the what if whirr, in which my brain gets its teeth into constructing scenarios in which things are other than as they are–in this case the cascade was triggered by the ongoing work left by my grandmother's rather abrupt departure from the scene.

None of it is terribly fun and I have found that the best response is to get out of bed and do something that is not sleeping for a while–hence this blog post. Now that I've done that for a bit I'm going to wander back to bed and see if I have successfully distracted the story-telling part of my brain enough that it will shut up and let the rest of me get to sleep.


Michael Damian Thomas said...

I had it bad last week. For me it was the combination of my grandmother's death, some small problems with my daughter, and a toxic situation with an organization. On the worst night I ended up writing my letter of resignation, had a glass of wine, and went back to sleep.

DKoren said...

Oh does this speak to me! The rare and only times I can't sleep are when the brain simply won't shut up. Your variations are right on and made me laugh because things like the genuine story whirr not letting "go even once I solve the problem" is so true! And why is that? Problem's solved brain, go to sleep! I end up resorting to naps the next day.

The worry whirr is the one that tends to haunt me most, but so does the genuine story whirr.

Good luck and may you win your wrestling match quickly.

Kelly McCullough said...

Michael, my condolences on your grandmother. You have my sympathy.

Michael Damian Thomas said...

Thanks, Kelly.

On a happier note, I see that you and my wife are on two panels together at CONvergence. That should be fun.

Anonymous said...

I had it all last night. I had to appear in court this morning for work, and the nerves and arguments running through a sleep-deprived, half-addled brain made for no sleep and a tired Sean!

Kelly McCullough said...

Michael, yeah I thought that would be fun, particularly the Who panel where I can just be a fan.