Cats v. Robots

The Robots are broken. Get on that, will ya?

Warning:  Cat story ahead. I don’t do this often, because frankly, my cats aren’t that interesting. I mean, they’re cats. But against my better judgment, I’m posting a cat story. With a cat photo. Sigh.

This time change deal is not going well. I would be fine with setting the clocks back and gaining an extra hour.

However, not everyone in the house is happy with the change. You see, some residents here are rather food-driven. So much so that they begin lobbying for breakfast way, way too early in the morning. To fix this, we recently installed two automatic food dispensers, affectionately called The Robots, to feed the ravenous beasts.

This worked. Now in the early morning hours, the cats go harass the Robots in the morning for their breakfast, and promptly at 6 a.m., the Robots deliver.

Until this morning. The Robots were set to standard time. But cats, they do not understand daylight savings time. Come feeding time, the Robots were not giving up the kibble.

It was clearly time to panic.

This is why I woke up this morning to a paw patting me on the nose. And then a close-up view of two furry faces. And then insistent yowling. Then a more aggressive pat. Like a small punch. Then the sound of fabric ripping as a co-conspirator attacked the drapes.

So much for the extra hour of sleep. I got up and staggered toward the kitchen, but tripped over the fluffy terrorists and slammed into the door jamb. My neck and shoulder haven’t felt right all day.

The little beasts did convince me to program the Robots to give food earlier and we’re going to ease into the return to standard time. It seemed the safest route.

One Goal Accomplished!

Scrivener is the best!

   So, this happened last night. I got up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because it was too hot, the cat was patting my head, and I had a glimmer of an idea about how to resolve the plot problem I’ve been stuck on.
   What else are you going to do between 1:30 and 3 a.m.? I started writing and around 2:15 a.m., I passed my initial word-count goal of 65,000.
   I am not done with the story yet. But I’m close. So very close. Another couple sleepless nights and I should be able to write those two elusive words: 
    The End.

In the Dead of Night

View from the top of Lombard Street, San Francisco, very late one August night.

   I’m starting to wonder if my most productive time of the day, for writing at least, is in the middle of the night. Insomnia and I are well acquainted. It’s not unusual for me to get up around 12:30 a.m. and go write for an hour or two. This happened last week, when thankfully I didn’t have to work the next day, and a 60-minute writing session produced more than 1,000 words and a pretty good breakthrough in the story. I even went back to re-read the scene in the light of day and didn’t hate it (that’s praise — this is a first draft, so I’m not concerned with quality right now).
   But I don’t want to have to schedule a midnight wake-up call to write when I have a full-time job that requires me to be alert by 8 a.m. So, once you’ve identified your most productive time of the day, can you reprogram yourself? Can I train myself to be more productive at, say, 7 p.m. or 6 a.m.?
   Or would I want to? I complain about insomnia, but I also love how quiet the house is when I’m the only one awake. I love sitting in a darkened room, next to an open window, tapping away at my laptop and falling completely into my story. Sure, I’m dragging the next morning, but I don’t know that I’d trade that temporary sluggishness for a full night sleep if I have to give up my midnight excursion into my make-believe world.
    After all, there’s always coffee.

Welcoming the Weekend

Tiny grocery in Florence. Packed with all sorts of goodness.

   Wait. It’s already Friday? This week has gone by in a blur.
   This might explain why this morning I realized I was still carrying around the grocery shopping list I wrote on Tuesday. Which is why my breakfast options were, uh, scarce. I’ve also been driving around with my dry-cleaning all week. My clothes are well traveled, but still not dry-cleaned.
   Anyway, this week was jammed-packed with work. I have still been writing when I can, but not as much as I’d like (of course). Today, I was looking forward to sleeping in a little since I didn’t have to be at work until 10. My brain nudged me awake around 5 a.m. to remind me of all the things I need to do:  grab file for Monday morning court appearance, write letter to that one guy, call that other guy, research that thing I was thinking about in time for that meeting, find out where that meeting is going to be.
   But instead of getting up and writing a few hundred words, I picked up my phone and checked Twitter. It’s been two days since I joined and OK, I get it now. Between Twitter and Pinterest, my productivity is in dire jeopardy. However, if today goes as planned (cue manic laughter), I will be writing this afternoon. Right after the grocery shopping. Seriously. There is nothing to eat here.

Up All Night (Again)

    Sometimes, a scene simply comes to life in your mind, the characters just sing their witty dialogue and they explain how the story moves forward. At those times, what’s a writer to do but get out of bed and write 2,500 words?
    Now, unfortunately, the middle-of-the-night word binge means that I am currently running on little sleep and I expect it will eventually rob me of several necessary IQ points. And since today is my first day back to work after a week and a half away, I suspect I’ll be missing those IQ points later today.
    Before I got out of bed and turned on my laptop, I debated waiting until morning to write the ideas down. But the characters were so real, and well, pushy. I knew if I didn’t write it down, I would miss that spark and any attempt to recreate the scenes later would fall flat. The price for the two scenes may be my clarity later, but it’s probably a price I’d pay again.
    Does this happen to you? What do you do? Get up and write or go back to sleep?

Bubbly Goodness


Three be the things I shall never attain:  Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.      — Dorothy Parker. 

I’m pretty sure that Nano was created by and for insomniacs. One late night bout with sleeplessness and I finished my plot outline for my new project. I haven’t included that in my word count, but I’m really happy with the scene list so far. Sure, there’s a couple holes still, but I can fill those in as things progress.

This calls for a celebration, right? I think so. Which is why I’m writing this (slightly) under the influence of a nice crisp Spanish cava.


Vitamin ZZZZZ Deficiency

    I’ve touched on insomnia before, but it bears mentioning again because today I am suffering from a severe sleep deficiency. It must be severe because I just volunteered to host Thanksgiving at my home this year. Thanksgiving falls approximately two days after a major work event. This should be interesting.
    I’ve hosted Thanksgiving before, so in theory, I know what I’m doing. Not everyone one is convinced of this. The first time I hosted, my mother-in-law showed up with a turkey, stuffing, and gravy — “just in case.” Many people would have been insulted by this, but I just laughed. It was easy to laugh since my turkey was better (the secret:  brine that sucker). And then I filed that episode away for use in a future book.
    This year, we’ll probably have fewer than a dozen people, which is small for my family. My mother-in-law is going to bring green beans and an appetizer (ONE appetizer, I stressed. I expect a full buffet of snacks to emerge from her Buick.) Learning from past mistakes, I assigned my perpetually tardy sister-in-law to bring dessert. Other family members have volunteered to bring side dishes and I find that other than the turkey, my only task is going to be finding enough chairs and setting the table.
    I think this hosting gig is going to work out pretty well for me. But that could be the sleep deprivation talking. Stay tuned…

The Big Awake

Insomnia is fun, isn’t it? Those of us who cannot shut off our brains get that extra four hours of a day. The house is quiet and dark and peaceful. It would be a perfect time to drift off to sleep, but the insomniac’s brain is going full throttle, reliving perceived slights, a mortifying social faux pas, or pondering a Big Question.
That question is, of course, “Can you give a dog Bean-o?”

Who, me? 

Well, sometimes that’s the question keeping me awake. Other times it’s questions about work (“What was that deadline?” or “Did I sign that before it got filed?”); family (“How is she ever going to get out from under that horrible mortgage?”); or just general worries over things one cannot control (“Ebola!”).
Sometimes, the things that keep me awake are fun. Recently, it was a title. The title jumped into my mind and I immediately came up with an opening scene and then the next one and then… I got out of bed and wrote a couple thousand words. It’s unusual for me to come up with a title first, because I usually just slap a working title that consists of a character’s name on a WIP until something happens to change my mind. I know from seasoned professionals not to get too attached to any title I put on a story because it’s likely to get changed.
But I do hope that my middle-of-the-night title stays, because it still makes me laugh.In fact, as I wrote the opening scene, I found myself giggling a little. Even after I finally went back to bed, I was still happy and looking forward to discovering what trouble my characters were going to get into next. I don’t mind sleepless nights like that, at all.