Insomnia


It’s the end of my first day of summer. I should be totally chill, relaxing, just taking life as easy as I can. Instead, I am up late with insomnia.

My wife is snoring in the next room. Even the dogs are snoring in the living room with me. I am sitting in the dark with my cat Booker, who is trying to convince me that the most important thing in life right now is that I scratch him between the ears and hold him in my lap.

Shelly and I saw a pretty good movie tonight. It was “Hitchcock,” featuring the wonderful acting of Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock, the famous director. The story revolves around Hitchcock’s efforts to get his movie “Psycho” shot and distributed. It was also about his relationship with his wife, which was fascinating to me for a couple of reasons. They were a very real married couple, fighting and yet devoted to each other, dependent on each other, yet caught up in lives that pulled them apart. I found myself identifying with Hitchcock as he went through the creative process and totally immersed himself in the life of the serial killer that Psycho was based upon. I found it fascinating that when the movie was over, Shelly told me that she identified with the wife in the movie as well.

The creative process is an exciting, exhilarating, frustrating and complex way to live your life. I call it being “in the zone.” Tiffany Collier, one of my students and a fellow writer, called it “The Obsession Chapters” (see her blog here). It’s a cool feeling to be caught up in so vivid a view of your story that you can’t let it go, but it can be pretty annoying to anyone trying to live with you. This may be one of the reasons that actors and others involved in creative fields tend to have a hard time keeping a marriage together. It takes a very special person to understand a writer, and be willing to live with one.

Shelly and I will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary in August. I think what’s kept us together is that deep down we share common values, and because of that, we are both willing to sacrifice and work hard to make our marriage work. I love to write, and have always found one way or another to do it. But I always have to keep it in context. There is a difference between being a successful writer and being a happy writer. First, how do you measure success? Second, even if I sold a million books, I would still be faced with writing the next book. Third, those million people who bought my books aren’t going to be there to take care of me when I am old. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of becoming rich and famous through writing, but it’s important to keep things in proper perspective.

Anyway, I’m rambling, which is what one might expect from someone who is up past his bedtime with insomnia. So please excuse my ramblings.

Time to get some sleep.

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