Saturday 10 May 2014

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Sleep Is Optional, Right?

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Sleep Is Optional, Right?

It's amusing to me that not two hours ago I was writing a piece about the trials of a crime writer. I was typing away, happy as a clam, feeling on top of all the work that comes with being both a writer and an indie author. I figured I would finish a chapter or two and then head to bed with a book, read for a few hours and be happily asleep by midnight. Only it seems my body had other ideas. It's now 23:33 and it doesn't look like I'll be getting much, if any, sleep tonight.

It reminded me that I had planned to write a piece on how sleep seems to be optional when you're a writer. It links back to the many hats an indie author has to wear (and I did a piece about that here) and how because we don't have a whole marketing team et al, we seem to have to do the jobs that other authors would be able to delegate. Case in point, it's past my bed time and I'm working on blog pieces and emails. The job is all encompassing and never ending. It feels like every time I've "caught" up with myself, something else comes along and I'm back with a heavy work load.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't dislike my job and I don't resent my choice to become an indie author. It wasn't a hard choice for me for many reasons, the flexible work schedule being one of them. If I lived in a perfect world, I would probably have someone else who could do the 7am starts and the school run, but I don't and I have to do those myself. If I didn't, then I really wouldn't take issue with being up late most nights writing away. Plus there's the added bonus that when I can't sleep because of pain issues or general insomnia, then I always have something to do with my time.

I sometimes joke with my close friends about how my body seems to think that breathing is optional. As a lifelong severe asthmatic, I've had my fair share (and a few other people's fair shares too) of times when it would be a lot easier if I could quit struggling to breathe and still live to tell the tale. Thankfully I have never stopped breathing all together, though I have come close a few times, but anyone who has fought through an asthma attack knows how terrifying and utterly exhausting it is to fight against your body to draw your next breath. The same, in a way, can be applied to being a chronic fatigue sufferer, along with chronic pain. It's exhausting being fatigued and in pain all the time, it saps away at your strength and at times the easiest things feel like you're running a marathon.

No, I don't regret becoming an indie author and I love the many different parts of my job, but sometimes I do wonder if I could get more time to write if I were able to spend less time trying to sort out my whacked up sleep cycle. It feels like at times I spend precious writing time trying to get back onto a normal 'work during the day/sleep at night' schedule and as you're all aware, I'm not good with schedules as it is. The reasoning behind being up tonight is a mixture of pain, general insomnia and the fact that for a good couple of hours I was in the "zone" (a piece about it can be found here). I was worried that if I stopped for even a short break to do something essential such as sleep, that when I came back to it I would be blocked or would not be able to do the scene justice.

Right now I'm working through my process. Just before I write a death or vision scene, I like to give myself time to work through it in my head. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes, other times I stew over it for days. Tonight though, I am very close to being ready to type it out. It won't be perfect, it never is, but hopefully though it will create less work in the editing stage than if I just went straight ahead and opened a line directly from my brain to my fingers and allowed them to type the first things that popped into my thoughts.

We all have a process for how we do things, mine has been honed over the thirteen or so years that I've been writing and I like to think that I'm getting better at it. Time will tell if that's true or not and maybe I'll look back in another ten years and cringe at myself, but for now I'm happy to declare that right now, sleep is optional as I'm off to create someone's last moments on paper. I can sleep when I'm dead, right?

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