Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Taking notes

As a writer, I make it a point to write about the unusual circumstances that I go through, so that I can record something "as-is" to use for a later time. The events I write about are as mundane as what happened after i burned toast (I recorded the smell, the sight and the feel of the charred toast) or something as major as the time I sprained my foot (I can still remember writing, "It feels like my foot is on fire!"). Of course, there are times I CAN'T write about things. Months went by after 9/11 before I could write about it, because I was so numb with shock and grief. But when I CAN write about things, to capture them, then I will do so. It also really helps to add more "realness" to it if I use something like that in a story.

That said, I try to capture that moment, that feeling, as suddenly and as perfectly as possible. I'll record the sights, the smells, the sounds people describe and what something feels like. If I hold a gun for the first time, I'll note how heavy it is (like a gallon of milk, with one gun I've held) or, with something such as the time I was spitting up blood, how I knew right away that I had blood in my mouth to spit out just from the salty taste of it.

So the other day, when I had to get up to get Jennifer ready and dropped off to school, I had something happen that has never happened with me before: I awoke after only 3 hours of sleep. Well, I didn't really..."awaken." The alarm woke me up. If it hadn't, I would've kept sleeping! Anyway, during the time I only got 4 hours of sleep a night when the baby was a newborn, there WAS one time I only got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep. And amazingly made it through the day okay. But I wondered what it would be like to only get 3 hours of sleep. This morning, I found out!

After I took Jennifer to school, I sat down to write about this in my notebook:

"I only got 3 hours of sleep last night. My eyelids feel so heavy. Even as I try to write this. If I lied down or sat down, the temptation to fall back asleep is too great. I almost fell asleep while tying my shoes. I do what i have to do without focusing on it or being aware of it. Make coffee. Make Jen's lunch. Drive her to school. I am in shock I was able to drive. But I did it, but not being aware of it. It was all like mechanical. Even now it is hard for me to hold my pen and write this all down. I can't think straight. As I stand, I feel like I am going to fall. When I was talking, I lost my thoughts and ended up saying, "My brain is not fun-fun-functioning!" Haha. I decided after that not to talk so much. Everything is bright, too. The sun coming through my windshield was too bright. It was blinding. I had a few sips of coffee but it was no help. I am thinking, 'screw checking email! If I can, I am going back to sleep when I get home!'"

That whole "fun-fun-functioning" thing is hilarious, now that I reflect on it. LOL! Just call me Max Headroom. Oh, but I don't have a fun brain. Boo-hoo!

I did end up checking one email account after I got home. Thankfully, no new emails screaming for my attention RIGHT NOW. I have emails there but I could not answer them right then and there. I just couldn't think. What I'd written in my notebook was barely legible and had a lot of mess-ups, as it is. So I just went back to sleep and slept for a couple of hours. Boy, did THAT help! And I'm grateful the baby slept in, too.

Well, now I know what it's like trying to fun-fun-function on only 3 hours of sleep!



  • At 9:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    that sounds like a good way to keep notes, thanks for that tip!


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