Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why can't I sleep?

That's a question lots of other people are asking themselves right now.  

30 - 50% of the general population has insomnia. The percentage is even higher among alcoholics, the aged, and mental patients.  I used to pride myself on being just another sad statistic among the general population, but lately I think I'm beginning to slip into one or both of the last two categories. I'm not an alcoholic, but I might consider it if I thought it would help.  

That same article says insomnia is a sympton, not a standalone disorder.  Great. Now  I have something else to worry about: a symptom of WHAT?  Sounds like it could be just about anything.  The site lists at least a hundred possible causes, ranging from jet lag to brain tumor.  Wait...there's a section on food, too. What you eat can keep you awake.  Well, I knew that. Chili keeps me awake, for instance. But I didn't eat chili tonight.

The medical articles don't mention email, facebook, twitter, or blogging as possible causes.  Are they causes? Or does insomnia itself result in excessive online involvement?

Am I excessively involved? Or just trying to keep up....

Never mind. I'm going back to bed. Right now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why does my Writer's Critique Group session leave me feeling SO Great?

I just got back from a three hour critique session with four other female writers. We all emailed the group a new chapter of our novels last week. Today we went over everybody's chapter practically line-by-line, giving advice and impressions on general themes and even nit-picking over specific word choices.

I had so much fun! Even better, I came home fired up to write. Not content to just relax and enjoy the inspiration, I keep wondering WHY our sessions always affect me this way.

One of the women had to babysit her granddaughter today, so we met in the playspace at McDonalds. Nobody complained, we all know we might be the one  who can't get away from the kids next time. Besides it doesn't seem to matter where we meet. When we're together we block out all the noise and distractions and just concentrate on each other and on the writing.

When we started meeting over a year ago, I knew some of the advantages for being in a critique group, but I didn't know how much help the group would provide. First, it provides me a writing deadline. Every two weeks the group meets and that means constantly producing new material. This deadline pushes me to schedule time for writing and polishing my work.

I knew having other writers examine my work would give me fresh insight, marketing ideas and help on the manuscript before sending it out to an editor.  But I didn't realize how much this extra polish would improve my writing.

The critique group is an excellent atmosphere to exchange ideas with other writers. I get the benefit of receiving their input, experience and encouragement. Showing your manuscript to another person involves risk. What if they don't like it? Better to hear that from a fellow writer and polish it some more, than send the article all over the country, receive rejections slips, and never know why. 

But all that still doesn't quite explain my critique group "high".  I think that may be explained on a more elemental level: the value of female friendship. 

I believe friendships, our social connections are vital to emotional health. Friends provide a unique support that we cannot receive from families or children. Friends care about us as individuals and they care about our opinions and our feelings. They also enhance how we feel about ourselves.

Sometimes, women get so caught up in caring for families, spouses, children, jobs and a million other responsibilities that girlfriends may be the only people who can reach out to us and let us slow down. They share our experiences. They tell us jokes. They listen to our stories. We need girlfriends. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why do I always read my horoscope?

Today it says I should quit chasing my impossible dream and take care of my current responsibilities. At least, I think that's what it said. let me go back and copy the exact wording...

You may not be easily satisfied and stabilizing your life would be simpler if you weren't attracted to something that's out of reach. Don't waste any time or effort trying to fulfill your desires today. Instead, just apply yourself toward meeting your current obligations. It might not seem as much fun as chasing a dream, but the rewards at the end of the day will justify your concentration and determination.

Okay - not "impossible dream" just something that's out of reach.  The thing is,  I was typing furiously on my novel and I took a break to check my email. There it was on my iGoogle page - the horoscope widget - telling me my dream of publishing a novel is "out of reach."

I used to see my horoscope just once in a while when I happened to look at the local paper.  But now, thanks to Google, it's right there every day. Sometimes it's an affirmation that makes me smile - but more often lately it seems to be quietly scolding me - reminding me to be nice to my co-workers, take care of my family, appreciate the little things, grow up and face my responsibilities.

I know, logically, horoscopes are for entertainment only. I know I'm pulling meaning out of my own subconscious fears and anxieties. I know this. I'm not superstitious. I'm not stupid.

Even though I know all that..... I'm going to delete that blasted horoscope widget from my iGoogle page.