Monday, May 02, 2011

Sleep Vacation?

I’m way behind on this script due to all kinds of things: Some quick page one rewrites on a couple of scripts going out, a rewrite on an assignment, some work that had to be done on another project, a couple of articles for Script magazine, general laziness, a two week period where I got an invite to a screening almost every night - and I went to sit-com tapings on the other nights, a bunch of crazy errands, and a complete lack of sleep. If you read the blog, you know that I’ve always had sleep problems - I’m often up late, or doing something, and add to that I’m a light sleeper. Paul Schrader made a film called LIGHT SLEEPER with Willem Defoe - I’ll watch anything that Paul Schrader makes, even though a large percentage of his films don’t work at all. He has tone problems. But he’s always interesting, and since I’ve always had sleep problems and always been a light sleeper I went to see Schrader’s film. Maybe even at a late late show.

Buy the enough DVDs

The thing about being a light sleeper is that some noise will wake me up in the middle of the night - and I have no idea what that noise is. The noise happened while I was asleep. Might have been a police helicopter chasing a suspect on the 101, might have been a sonic boom, might have been someone in my building dropping something heavy... like the safe they stole from the jewelry shop which lead to that police chase on the 101. I have new neighbors on my left side, and they had a couple of late parties that didn’t bother me as much as their early morning leaving-for-work door slamming loud conversations. A pair of young guys probably trying to break into show biz, but I think they work as salesmen or something - they wear ties. After the door slamming, they have a conversation (loud) as they walk down the hall... past my apartment. I can hear them through the damned walls! But it’s not just them, it’s all kinds of things that wake me up... and sometimes it’s just me. I have this bad habit of staying up later and later - there are some movies I’m watching for a project and I maybe I can squeeze in one movie before I fall asleep? (“The plot is wafer thin!”) Then, when I wake up after not enough sleep, I realize I have this damned script to write, so I shower and shave and grab the laptop and get to work.... and kind of drag myself through the day without getting much done because I’m exhausted.

So I decided to take two days, get out of town, just me and the laptop and that script. No distractions. No DVD player and no DVDs. Nothing except the script. Get two days worth of momentum going and then just keep going until I’m finished. Force myself to focus by removing distractions. I book a hotel, I book a flight, I pack only the script material and nothing else. (Okay, clothes.)

Working vacation.

Funny - I don’t have any other kind. I take my work with me wherever I go, and even though I plan every year to *always* take Sundays off, last Sunday I was trying to get some pages written on this script... and that was Easter! I end up working 7 days a week... except I’m often so tired that it’s hard to call it work. Over the Christmas holidays? I wrote a script in a couple of weeks, plus did all of the normal holiday stuff.

So going out of town to get some work done is really nothing new. I hop my flight, take a taxi to the hotel and check in, grab dinner. I find a good rib joint and get barbeque sauce over most of my body as I eat a huge plate of ribs, a baked potato with the works (including actual bacon - and kind of Canadian bacon at that, not much fat), some corn, some slaw, some corn bread... and a couple of beers. By the time the cute waitress came back to ask if I wanted desert I was almost asleep on my plate. No desert tonight - tomorrow I’m a typing demon! I have done some outline work on the plane and I am prepared to write a stack of electronic pages! I head back to the hotel, wash my hands and face (those moist towels they give you just make you presentable to the public)... but it was too early to go to sleep. I’m on a two day *vacation*, right? So I walk back to a jazz joint I’d passed on the way to the rib joint and went in and listen to four guys play music... and have a couple more beers. When I was almost asleep, I walk back to the hotel... and read a book for a while. When I thought it was late enough to go to sleep, I get into bed with the TV on and eventually fall asleep...

Woke up the next morning, still tired - but I have a script to write! Instead of going back to sleep (which my body is begging for) I shower and shave and grab the laptop and head to a cool little indie coffee shop on some side street that I found while looking for a Starbucks. Tried to write, but was just tired. Exhausted. I basically dragged myself through the day, switched coffee shops halfway through the day - but the walk between didn’t get my blood flowing as much as it made me just want to lay down and go to sleep on the sidewalk. I actually get a page or two done, but the plan was 7.5-10 pages, and 5 pages is my normal quota... that I haven’t made on a new script since Christmas (when I was doing 7.5 on most days). I *need* to get pages done. I *need* to get some momentum going on this script so I can get to FADE OUT.

My dinner that night was a big salad, steak, garlic bread, another baked potato (no bacon), and a slice of chocolate cake. I think the last time I had cake was my birthday... but the picture in the desert menu looked delicious and the cake itself delivered on the photo. As I ate the cake, my eyes wanted to close - but I fought it. I will enjoy eating this cake, dammit! It’s *early* - children aren’t even in bed at this hour! Went back to the hotel... and was going to grab my laptop and go back out and work... but I was too tired. I thought about *forcing myself* to work, but that’s what I always do... and maybe that’s not the answer. I mean, when I’m exhausted like this forcing myself to work just means sitting and staring at the laptop screen with Movie Magic open. Not much actual work getting done. So I thought I might take a nap and then go out later and grab a beer somewhere and drag along the laptop...

12 hours later I woke up.

Maybe I needed to sleep? The thing is, I was still tired. Not groggy from oversleeping, I was tired enough to go back to sleep for a while. But, check out time was approaching. I considered staying an extra day, but I suspect changing my flight would cost me a fortune - so I packed and left - a couple of hours before my flight to sit in that indie coffee shop and do some work before grabbing a taxi to the airport. Even though I felt like I needed more sleep, I also felt much much better than the previous day. I *needed* that sleep. I actually got some pages done - though not as many as I wanted - and felt pretty good by the time I needed to get to the airport and have the TSA touch my junk.

But all of this made me wonder if I should use some of those air miles from my various journeys to take a monthly sleep vacation. Go somewhere - no computer, no notebooks, no work to do... maybe just my Kindle - check into a hotel, spend 2 days reading and sleeping, then head home. And if I feel like sleeping 12 hours plus? Just do it. Yes, I can sleep at home... if I had any willpower to ignore all of those distractions. And funny how sleeping in that hotel room allowed my brain to not worry that maybe that sound was the phone or someone buzzing at the front door or something that I needed to wake up for. Even though I’m a light sleeper, I managed to sleep through whatever noise there was in the hotel. Maybe my subconscious knows that whatever happens in the hotel isn’t really my problem. There’s a Do Not Disturb thing stuck in the mag-key slot, so there’s little chance that knocking is on *my* door (though once in a hotel someone knocked on my door in the middle of the night and it was a hot woman in a slinky dress who wanted to know if I was Mr. Walpurgus... I reluctantly told her it was the wrong room... probably couldn’t have afforded her, anyway... I always wonder if “Walpurgus” had already paid for her with a credit card, so maybe I could have pretended and gotten away with it? I mean, after it’s over she can’t exactly take it back, right?) - but the phone in a hotel room isn’t going to ring unless it’s some emergency and I’ve slept through check out or something. My brain knows it’s safe to click from Light Sleep Mode to Light Coma Mode. At home, some part of my brain worries that the phone *might* ring while I’m asleep.

Hmmm, maybe I should actually force myself to take Sundays off? Actually do the long bike ride to no fixed destination I always have planned? Even though I’m behind on this script - and just about everything else I need to do - maybe a day off every week will make all of the other days more productive?

And I’m also considering taking a sleep vacation... right after I finish this damned script!

PS: In an example of being both lazy and driven - this blog entry is about 7 pages of writing that *could* have been on that script I need to get finished!

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: They Gave It All Away In The Trailer! - and the remake of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.
Dinner: L&L Hawaiian BBQ
Pages: Still trying to dive back into this script!
Bicycle: Yes - rode against the wind for a while.
Movies: FAST FIVE.


annaliterally said...

Oh, I've so been there. I'm supposed to be on a writing vacation now, but I'm not getting any writing done. I need a vacation from my vacation!

Todd said...

this entry made me yawn haha (just kidding)...

Richard J. McKenzie said...

If you can fall asleep with the tv going, have you considered running an air-cleaner thingie at night? (White noise, not WHITE NOISE the horror movie - probably can't sleep through that). I run one when the local dogs (human and canine) are yelping ad infinitum and depriving me of my beauty sleep (which I can't afford to miss out on, not at all).


No Hitchcock movies on the TCM schedule this month. The basterds!

However, there is this listing for May 24th at 6:15, which makes my head spin:

A singing cowboy signs on with an all-woman dude ranch.
Cast: Elvis Presley, Julie Adams, Jocelyn Lane. Dir: Norman Taurog.

ObiDonWan said...

YES, take either Saturdays or Sundays (or any other day of the week) OFF. Sleep. Do not work.

Ed Vega said...

Light sleeper here also.
Earplugs don't work for you?

rich said...

I'm a light sleeper, too, and I keep a fan going, just loud enough to drown out other noises (like what was suggested by Richard). Somehow that seems to work, plus it keeps the room a little colder which helps with sleeping, too.

The getting out of town once a month or so just to sleep sounds like a plan. We never really had enough money for a real vacation when growing up, but my mom would pack me and my sister in the car every couple of months, and just drive to a HoJo's (kids ate free) in some city we'd never been to, and just hang out for the weekend. Good times.

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