Episode 1: The Benefits of Insomnia

Episode 1: The Benefits of Insomnia

Emily tells me she only sleeps for two hours at a time at night. She is conditioned to wake up. The words still fresh in my mind from the young pregnant doctor in Mike Leigh’s thought-provoking film Another Year, I listen to them again as they spill from my lips.

‘Insomnia is not an illness, it is a symptom.’

Emily lived at sea on a forty-foot sail boat for six years, so I’m not surprised it’s taking her body a long while to readjust, that and the unfortunate hostage experience which ended it all, her life spared but not her boat.

Seize an Insomniac Moment

Not only am I not an insomniac, I rarely dream or recall them, something Emily tells me she practises every night in the constant presence of her mother, a woman who hasn’t lived for more than eleven years now. I think about that and conclude that my days are so filled with dealing with the ever demanding present, that my mind must spare me from such night journeys into a fabricated past or alternative future. I know that when I do remember a dream, it is often worth writing down, such is its novelty.

Uncharacteristically, I couldn’t sleep this morning so I was doing what I do when I’m neither dreaming nor sleeping, having wake-dreams, which aren’t really dreams because I am consciously imagining them, creating dream-like semi-realistic scenarios.

In this morning’s dream scenario, I was writing this story in my head and thinking how sad it is that I don’t have the time I had when I first arrived in France, to spend endless hours writing, reading and learning from them both.  And then I thought Insomnia! Wouldn’t it be great if instead of lying here thinking about it, I raised this dormant body and took it off to write.

The story has reached a significant turning point so we are sharing it while it remains in the present and is not relegated to a distant nostalgic past, when I will no longer be thinking about it in the same way and unlikely to be dreaming either.

And now my daughter is collaborating, depicting my not sleeping state seconds before seizing that opportunity of a rare insomniac moment.

Next up:

Episode 2: We are not living in France!

 of A Silent Education: Our Quiet Challenge in Provence

Previous Episodes:  Intro

A Silent Education: Our Quiet Challenge in Provence

Struggling with my latest read, I think about all those people starting out on the NanoWriMo trail and all those old stories gathering dust on the shelf, my finished and unfinished novels, the new one I would love to start and the words of my friend Bernadette, who suggested to me yesterday that I write a story directly into this blog.

It’s an idea with merit and one that will help me overcome another little dilemma, that of a 10-year-old girl who wants her own blog, whose little fingers have occasionally and so she says ‘accidentally’ found their way in here.

So this will be our collaboration, I will write the episodes and she will create the illustrations, which seems appropriate as this story is going to be about her, about an aspect of our journey together that is worth sharing, because I know our experience is already helping others going through something similar.

So, next up Episode One : The Benefits of Insomnia written by me and illustrated by my daughter.

Here is the cover she designed today, there is a colour version, but she wants me to put it up in black and white.

And just to clarify, that’s her on the left and me on the right. (She has used her artistic ability liberty to remove her curls and make herself as tall as me).