Worth Staying Awake For (Day #61)

I wasn’t going to post today.

But then, as always, the guilt started creeping in.

I know I don’t HAVE to blog daily. I know you don’t expect me to. But for some reason, I expect me too.

Blog Guilt.

I suspect I’m not alone.

But Blog Guilt is not the subject matter of this particular post.

The subject matter of this particular post is the bulletin board I saw at Caribou Coffee this morning. The bulletin board filled with little blue post-it notes bearing the Caribou logo and a question: what do you stay awake for?

The answers ranged from the practical (“writing, reading, weaving”) to the philosophical (“to figure out how to make my future work”) to the honest (“time alone!”) to the heart-wrenching (“to pray for my dad’s cancer to go away”). Reading their handwritten answers, I felt like I knew them, these Caribou-caffeinated strangers. I felt like I understood them.

What we stay awake for says a lot about us.

And so I asked myself the question. What do I stay awake for?

The practical: to feed Lil Mil

The honest: to get some time alone

The philosophical: to pursue my dreams, sentence by sentence

The heart-wrenching: to pray for a dear friend

The brutally honest?

I don’t stay awake for much.

I am passionate. I am driven. I get things done. But I’ve always called it a day at the end of the day. I’ve never burned the midnight oil. I’ve never had to. The day has always been enough.

But what if the day isn’t enough?

What if success requires not only our days but our nights, too? What if the attainment of our wildest dreams demands a few (or many) sleepless nights?

I am 39 days away from Day #100. I’ve given this book 61 days.

I have not given it a single night.

Is that why I’m not as productive as I wanted to be? I’ve blamed this blog and my baby for my lack of progress, but maybe the real reason I’m so far behind is the fact that this novel — and my desire to finish it — doesn’t keep me up at night.

Yes, it motivates me to be productive in spare moments. It forces me sacrifice dinner dates with my DVR. But it doesn’t keep me up past bedtime.

Lil Mil does, sometimes. Her hunger. Her restlessness. Her I can’t get comfy! moans.

My dread that something bad is going to happen to her.

My anxiety about being a bad mom.

My fear that I’m going to disappoint her by not finishing this novel.

And there it is: She keeps me up at night. She’s what I stay awake for. She’s my answer.

I find this simultaneously comforting and discomforting. I like that she’s my answer, but I wish she wasn’t my only answer.

I want to be one of those creative people who can’t sleep until the thing they’re creating is done being created. My dad is like that. I’m guessing all the writers I envy are like that.

I’m not like that.

Do I have to be like that to get where I want to go?

I’m not sure. Let me sleep on that and get back to you.

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(Do you burn the midnight oil? Do you think creative success demands some oil burning? What do you stay awake for? What keeps you up at night? Are the two the same?)


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