Monday, April 9, 2012

That bad place

Happy Easter week. I have been listening to a baby scream all night long, and all day yesterday, and in fact he's screaming as I write this. So my mind has disintegrated and I can't function. He does not like to be put in his crib and asked to sleep. He says "Neyt." He says "I don't think so, lady." Loudly. His sleep has gone from sleeping through the night to waking up and screaming 2-3 hours at night, and refusing all naps by screaming for upwards of an hour.

It's pretty bad.

It's so bad that it made me wonder if I can ever have a moment to myself again. I'm close to finishing revisions on my ms. But the screaming, oh the screaming.

It's enough to give me fantasies of throwing in the towel. Completely--as in, stop writing. Because you see, the screaming exhausts me mentally and physically (also the no sleep) and what happens is when I'm shredded mentally, I start thinking bad things like, I'm no good. The writing sucks. The novel is a joke.

Have you ever gotten to this place? I've always climbed out of that dank, smelly hole before and back into the sunlight of enjoying the process of writing fiction. I like to think I'll always be able to climb out of it, but the seductive serenade of "you're-not-good-enough" is gaining volume. What do you do to get the demons to stop whispering those bad things in your ear?


Steven J. Wangsness said...

Oh, I know that place. We finally gave in to that "let them scream it out and after a few nights they won't scream anymore" edict in What to Expect When You've Had the Baby (or whatever it's called). It was hard, but the little screamer did stop after three (hellish) nights.

It was either that or leave him on a church doorstep somewhere.

Kristen Lippert-Martin said...

Demons thrive on your sleeplessness. They count on it because physical exhaustion quickly leads to mental exhaustion. And that's when they go in for the kill.

*throws Sierra a battle ax*

I'll start on the ones on your left. You watch your flank. We should have them all slain by dinner.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks Steven. That's exactly where I am too. Problem is, we've done the cry it out before and the little turkey reverted after a few weeks of actually sleeping through the night.

KLM - you're on. You can be my wingman anytime. :)

MJones said...

I don't even have a child and I could not be less interested in my novel. Be gentle with yourself. It's a stressful time.

JEM said...

I definitely get to that point, especially staring down the beginning of a novel. It's a Sisyphean effort, writing a book, and only sometimes enjoyable. Honestly, I usually burrow deeper into the story and what I want to write and stop worrying about how good it is, what other people will think, is there a market for it, etc. I have to look for the reasons why I do it in the first place, and it's usually to get the story out of my head and entertain myself.

Cathryn Leigh said...

I remember my hubby pinning me to the bed one night to make sure I let my daughter scream it out...

You can do this! I know you can.

I've got the Bow and I'm at your scratch that I'm horrible with weapons, how about I make dinner while you and KTM (hey that's a motorcycle) fight off the deamons of self doubt.

:} Cathryn

MKHutchins said...

I completely sympathize with coping with a screaming child. Your novel doesn't suck; your sleep schedule does! Good luck with the little one. Maybe you can convince someone to watch him for a bit and give you some quiet...and a nap.

Diane Henders said...

I don't have kids, and I can't imagine how you can deal with them and still manage any kind of productive writing at all.

I think the perception of suckiness is just a fact of life for every author. Here are a few of my strategies:

If I get stalled and have a hard time getting back to the WIP, it's usually because I've taken a wrong turn with it somewhere. I haven't completely thought out the motivations; I've lost my way with the plot; the characters aren't acting realistically; whatever. Sometimes it's best for me to walk away from it for a while, and then when I get back to it I can see those things, fix them, and get on with writing happily.

Another time I start to feel like I suck is when I've been banging away at the middle for so long, I've lost my excitement with the story. My quick fix for that is to stop writing, go back to the very beginning of the MS, and read the whole thing like a reader, not a writer. Immersing myself in the story again gets me excited about going forward (and usually convinces me that I don't suck as hard as I thought I did).

If I'm just feeling like it sucks in general, I tell myself, "Just tell the story. Go ahead. Suck." The nice thing about writing is that you don't have to get it perfect the first time. Or the second, or the tenth, or the hundredth. You can just keep on making it better. Later, when you've had some sleep.

Hang in there, you're doing fine. :-)

Sierra Gardner said...

Oh definitely. I'm not a mom but I was the oldest of 9 and there was a lot of screaming. It's amazing how quickly constant noise and no sleep can deteriorate our mental state (that rhymed =). Keep working and best of luck with the little one - hopefully he finds a way to be happy and sleepy soon!

MC Howe said...

Has your boy been calling my boy late at night and saying horrible things? This must be why he has been screaming all week at 2 am. For gosh sakes Sierra take away his phone! I used to have a good sleeper to, not that it translated into writing.

One of these days they will figure it out and we can have our nights and our writing time back.

I hope.

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