Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Night Worries

I was going to call this post "Night Terrors" but then that sounded like I was writing about the real thing that some children experience where they wake up screaming and I'm just writing about my own self and my own anxieties.

In the early days after Eliza died, I hated mornings the most. I was pretty tired by the end of the day--holding yourself together when you want to cry at every moment is exhausting--and I could basically just watch TV until I dozed off. But in the morning, when you first shift into consciousness... before you even wake up, you become aware of a pit of dread in your stomach and it takes just a few fleeting moments before your brain catches up and reminds you why your stomach hurts and your heart aches. And you have a whole day stretching in front of you that you have to get up and get through. That kind of grief is a hard slog.

These days, I don't have so much trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Back in late September/early October, I took a couple weeks off from yoga with Adriene. I was staying up too late and having a hard time getting up in the morning, not because I was sad but just because I was tired. It became obvious that I actually feel much better and am more productive when I squeeze that extra 30 minutes into my morning, so I have returned to the daily morning practice and it definitely gets my morning off to the right kind of start.

But now it's the evenings that get me. If I'm worried about something--say, an election, a book project, a stack of grading, plans for the holidays, etc.--I can push things from the forefront my mind while I drive the kids around and teach classes and answer e-mails and do all the work stuff I do to keep busy so I don't have to grade papers. Then I get home from work and it's the bustle of dinner and read alouds and bath and bed and the dreaded teeth brushing (seriously it's my least favorite moment of the day). And then the girls go to sleep and then I take a shower and then...

I worry. I lay in bed planning to read but then I just scroll my phone and fret.

Last night, I was really worked up. I sent out a few queries and instead of feeling bold and in charge of my destiny, I felt fearful and silly. I'm recognizing how small the niche for this book project seems in relation to the vast publishing market and realizing that even if the book doesn't totally suck (I have lost all objectivity and can't even tell if it's rubbish), it still may never find an agent who wants to publish something that will only appeal to a portion of 1% of women who get pregnant each year. 1/160 is way too many babies who die before they are born, but it's a really small number when you're thinking about book sales. This does explain why there's not a lot of great stuff out there, and it does make me further appreciate books like Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief by Kate Inglis and Ghost Belly by Elizabeth Heineman and, of course, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.

Anyway, last night I was just feeling really sad about the slim chances of traditional publishing. This morning? I feel much better. (It's amazing what eight hours of sleep can do.) The chances are still slim, but given my particular audience, it's just reality that my book might be a better fit for a small boutique press or possibly even a hybrid publishing house. I just feel better about exploring options this morning, where last night I felt like a failure. Mornings are better, these days.

Last night I was also pretty worried about election results. This morning... still worried. But motivated. Zuzu went with me to vote because she's out of school today and we had good conversations about voting and our family's values. We talked about how your vote is secret and no one has to know who you voted for, but you can tell your family if you want to. We dropped Coco at school first (Coco had a rough morning--her first question when she woke up was if I would paint her fingernails before school, and getting a negative answer to that inquiry was pretty devastating) so it was about 8am before we made it to our polling place. But the line was short and the folks were friendly!

I still don't have holiday cards ordered or holiday shopping organized, although we do have some big holiday plans that I'll announce soon. And I feel okay about that today. In an annoying revelation, writing this novel is forcing me to be really efficient with my time, so I'm actually getting stuff done. (Which is why I keep finding time to blog even though I thought it would be radio silence for the month of November!). It turns out that the more I write, the more stuff I want to write about.

Anyway, I still have a stack of grading to tackle (and more exams coming in on Friday) so I'd better get to it. I just needed to write out this reminder that no matter how terrible I feel at bedtime, life is generally more endurable in the morning.  And hanging out with this kiddo at work today doesn't hurt either.


  1. We are going over spring break! Equal parts anxiety and anticipation over here, but I know it will be such an amazing experience! Also, I've never been!

    Have SO much fun! xoxo


  2. I'm sorry I don't know how my post about Disney World was entered on this post! But I will comment here as well.

    Evenings are hardest for me also, and it used to be mornings too. My mind never stops, and it's always exhausting. Like most things, I'm sure this involves grieving Josie.

    I hope to read your book one day. You can always articulate my feelings of loss so well. Also, An Exact Replica remains one of my absolute favorite books ever. (The word "favorite" seems wrong here, but it's the honest truth. It's amazing).

    From one worrier (and friend) to another, big hugs. xo


  3. Hi Brooke...

    So... I read this when you first published it, and though I wanted to say something, I was not sure what. I've never had or lost a baby because I'm not of that age (I'm in my tweens)so it would be disrespectful for me to try to speak for the experience. But I think I can speak to other writers about writing. I'm amateur, but I know a thing or two about the publishing business. Whatever you do you should not give up. In my mind, there always has to be a first for everything. Even with writing. And your book, your book for Eliza, could be the book that sparks the conversation about child loss. Maybe it could even tribute to ending the silence and pain families who have lost a child suffer with. This book you are writing is meant for something big. And I know that you can make it through and have the book published because you have a purpose to do so.