My mother assures me that my peculiar sleeping habits developed early. Insomnia? No, not exactly, but I’ve never been a “good sleeper.” I often have trouble falling asleep and I always have trouble staying asleep for long. For a while, I thought it was because I was afraid I’d miss something. But now, I think my mother’s theory is correct. “You’re just not good at sleeping.”
Humans are adaptive creatures, we work night shifts, eat whatever is available in our environments, create mythologies to explain the unexplainable and jet around through various time zones just for fun. (Well the jetting isn’t fun, but getting to great places is so…) I’m not sure when my personal adaptive strategy developed, but I can’t remember a time before it so it must have been early in my life. When I’m not sleeping I tell myself stories.
No, I don’t speak the words out loud, but I hear them in my head as clearly as I hear the words I’m typing right now. I make stories out of things I’ve seen or heard. A snippet of a conversation, a figure on a subway platform, a line from a song are equally good sources of story fodder. Sometimes it’s just a word or an image from the newspaper. I try to get myself to go to sleep, but sometimes the stories are really compelling and I want to get up and write them down.
So, fellow writers and crazy night people, anybody else telling themselves bedtime stories? I want to know if I’m alone in the dark or if there’s an army of us spinning tales out of nothing to amuse ourselves the way bedtime chapters from “The Secret Garden” and “A Wrinkle in Time” used to when we were kids.