Actually it can come any time between 2 and 4 AM, that time when I usually have to take my first (or sometimes second as I get older) nighttime trip to the bathroom. I groggily get up, stumble to the correct seat, do what I have to do, and stumble back to bed.
Then I lie there awake, not dozing, not in a half sleep, but freakin’ wide awake.
Oh, yes, thinking.
I’m thinking about what I didn’t get accomplished…not necessarily during the previous 24 hours, although that can enter into it…but…well, let’s go back to elementary school and work our way forward.
And I usually stop with the present, like the 90s on…I shouldn’t have bought that rickety house. I shouldn’t have dated that weird guy. I should have done more with my nursing profession.
And the one my father kept saying: I just can’t finish anything.
Well, that’s not true.
Granted, I’ve finished bunches of short stories (some published) and several novels (one published).
I tested my writing abilities on an erotic romance novella (published).
I’ve taught classes.
I’ve run a quality assurance department.
I did become a VP of Nursing.
But…but…but (that’s my brain talking) you should have gone back to college for your degree, even if it was in nursing. You could have taught nursing classes, not just nurse aide.
You should have tried harder to get one of your books published before you retired.
You’re really not all that good at writing. And what about all that art stuff you have… you’ve done nothing with that. And then there’s that bag of yarn. You haven’t finished cleaning out your closet. You haven’t…
Shut the F up! I think as I toss and turn, trying not to wake up The Master of The House. (The sleep of the innocent or of the man who knows his wife will take care of everything.)
Now I will admit that my husband (forever to be known as TMofTH) will sometimes be awake at the same time. But his brain works like this: What project can I do that will necessitate going to a Big Box Hardware Store to get stuff I may already have somewhere and, once bought, won’t use or need for years, necessitating another trip to the Big Box…? Or is there some obscure fact that I MUST tell my wife so she really can’t go back to sleep?
MY brain at 3 AM, on the other hand, tells me that I’m a loser, that I’ve never done anything of any worth in my 69 years, I should just curl up and die…or maybe go out and eat worms.
I’m starting to ignore that type of Brain Talk at 3 AM. I started by not letting it get to me at 7 AM or 9 AM or 3 PM.
I walk over our large yard with my canine companion.
I read positive books about writing, like Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
I go to writers group meetings and conferences.
And I write.
Now when my brain starts to jabber at 3 AM, I push an imaginary OFF button, put on my sleep mask, listen to the comforting snores of TMofTH, and fall back into a dream.
But there are times I have to remember just where that OFF button is.
I know I’m not alone in this 3 AM crazy. What do you do to keep the crazy away?
Addendum: I have to add this wonderful website that my friend Casey Garrett found: