SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS
Every night when I hit the hay, usually about 1:30, I lay awake or at least a half hour before I finally fall asleep. On a good night it will only be ten minutes and I doze right off. Lately life has been a little chaotic. Last night, my car died, and I had to get a new battery today. I didn’t lose any sleep over it, because having some automotive knowledge, I was able to just buy the battery and put it in myself. But there have been some nights where I have been so distraught or excited that I either have trouble sleeping or can’t sleep at all.
Now some of you may think writing about aliens, monsters, or giant arthropods would be enough to keep anyone awake at night, and you’re probably right, if I were a normal everyday person who is afraid of that stuff. The truth is, however, that this is what I grew up with-Dracula, the werewolf, Godzilla, Star Trek, Land of The Giants, and so on. I embraced the darker side ever since I was six years old, and where most boys built car models, I built monster models. Scary movies would almost never scare me to the point they’d keep me awake, albeit a few exceptions-The Catman, which I have spoke of in an earlier post, and my brother’s imitation of Dracula, which he usually did when I was sleeping and he woke me up by screaming.
As an adult, however, these things now do keep me awake-with ideas. There have been nights that I don’t want to sleep, but know I have to, because I’ve been working on my latest novel, and not only flow with the story but immerse myself in it. Many of my plot lines in my second part of my science fiction series have been designed while I lay awake in bed. I imagine the world they live in, what they say to each other, and how their outcome will be. This is nothing new to me; when I was a child I invented a whole different imaginary world of my own because I wasn’t happy with the one I had.
This doesn’t mean I wasn’t a happy kid. I loved being with my friends, what few I had, and played baseball, football, kickball, and other children’s games, but I always had my other option-playing with my action figures, play dough, drawing, and yes, writing. Even before I actually started writing stories, I was writing comics, drawing animals and monsters and such.
I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with a family I knew as a kid. Their mother had recently died, and I attended the memorial. The sisters were very surprised to see me, and thanked me repeatedly for showing up. The oldest son was my best friend until sixth grade, when we were separated by schools. We would sit for hours at my house and draw, creating monsters, and naming them. He had me beat at over 1000 pictures, but I know I had at least an impressive 500 of them. When I spoke with him recently, I found that he had changed a little over the years, but he still had a great interest in the same things I do. His sister mentioned something about sending my books to him, and that she knew he would love them.
Another thing that sometimes keeps me awake is the anticipation of an event, such as a book signing, or a musical performance. No matter how many times I perform in front of a crowd, I still get those butterflies in the stomach, and the words that I knew so well in rehearsal come out all mixed up and jumbled. I find myself singing the same lyric twice, or forgetting the words altogether. And don’t even go there when talking to the crowd; I’m sadly lacking that magnetic personality that relates to a bunch of strangers in a room, but I try my best.
I don’t get as nervous with book signings, but I do worry about things such as the table set-up, whether I need to bring something extra, and how many books to bring. Recently, and this Saturday, I have to worry about the weather-wind, rain, and anything else Mother Nature decides to throw at me. I do sometimes wonder if I’ll be able to achieve my goal of 20 books in 20 years before I die, especially being overweight with an irregular heartbeat, sleep apnea, and my susceptibility to gall stones, Pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Nonetheless, I push onward, not because I want to, but because I feel I have to. When I was injured at work in 2013, I realized that God gave me a gift that I always had, but never really pushed myself to achieve these goals. Being unable to no longer do hard, physical labor, I began to write. Even though it’s still more of avocation than an actual vocation, it has helped me deal with being unable to work, and has given me a new purpose in life, which is to expose the world to the imaginary world I created as a child, and to the readers of science fiction and fantasy everywhere!