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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Insomnia & Writing

So it's probably not a surprise, given that my first full-length book is entitled The Insomniac's Weather Report, that I suffer from insomnia. Funnily enough, I wasn't suffering from it during the time I worked on that book but was instead using my powers of recall (which are sharper when I've been sleeping well, in case you are wondering). However since finishing that book, I have once again had my bouts of the dreaded sleeplessness.

So I was interested in poet Lisa Russ Spaar's essay on insomnia and the poet in a recent edition of the New York Times. Spaar points out that while poets may or may not be more prone to insomnia than the general population is, certainly poets are more inclined to write about it, which may be why writing and insomnia are so strongly linked in our minds. Or it may be that poets, writers, and artists are bigger insomniacs after all.

Considering the purported sources of insomnia, the romantic hyperstimulation versus the corporeal breathing disorder, Spaar wonders whether an insomniac poet (or a poetic insomniac) would want to cure her own insomnia were it possible, giving up the "liminal hours between dark and dawn" in favor of health and sanity?

For me, the answer is yes, yes I would, given a choice, get cured of my insomnia. I am perfectly capable of waking up in the middle of the night to write down a good line or word and then going soundly back to sleep, all without venturing onto the desert island of insomnia. On the other hand I have written poems in the insomniac's suspended state, poems that wouldn't have been written otherwise. But they weren't better than ones written without suffering from sleeplessness, and I may even have missed other poems on days after which my nocturnal hyperactivity has rendered me too exhausted to string together a coherent sentence, let alone write. But who said that poetry had to be coherent anyway?

So I'm interested to hear from you writers out there. Insomnia: yes or no? And if yes, cure: yes or no?

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