Daydreaming in the Dark

Insomnia – that moment at twenty past two when you abandon all hope of getting back to sleep, go downstairs to put the kettle on and have a think about how to pass the long dark hours.

I generally take my tea back to bed, fold my arms, scowl at the wall opposite and have a bit of a think. I let my mind wander –  even more so than usual – and wait to see what turns up. Snatches of dialogue, bits of plot, disconnected fragments of ideas, it all rises to the surface rather like the scum you get when boiling bones.

The big thing is not to panic – or lie, jaw clenched, thinking I must go to sleep, I must go to sleep, over and over again. That really doesn’t work.

I’ve always slept badly. Ten or fifteen years ago I barely slept at all. I don’t remember being particularly bothered by this – although I did learn that falling asleep at half past six in the morning just in time for the alarm to go off at seven really wasn’t a good idea. Thirty minutes’ sleep is much worse than none at all.

I learned to daydream in the dark, working out plots and putting together characters without the slightest idea any of it would ever see the light of day, far less be of interest to anyone else. And then, when I’d designed Hawking Hangar, peopled it with technicians, decided what they’d wear, how they’d behave and so on, I’d get up and go to work. I wasn’t aware of any ill effects of only two or three hours sleep a night – although you might want to check with my colleagues for a more accurate assessment. For all I know I was staggering around like the Living Dead, but owing to sleep deprivation, considerably less amenable.

There was another Attack of the Fifty Foot Insomnia last night. I tell you now, there was a lot of wall scowling at going on at twenty past two this morning. On the other hand, I may have resolved a knotty plot problem in Book 9 – yes, it is coming along, but very slowly. This one’s a difficult book to write. I also clarified the outline for the sequel to White Silence, made some notes for a possible sequel to the sequel of White Silence, had a bit of a think about this year’s Christmas Story, discarded my idea for this year’s Christmas Story, briefly considered a stand-alone contemporary romance, dwelt for a moment on my next Regency novel, and spent some time thinking about the Time Police. It’s only a small bedroom but I think you’ll agree – I pack a lot in. Although now I’ve typed that it does occur to me that some people might get the wrong idea. Shame on you.

Anyway, I’m sitting here, with my umpteenth cup of tea and my writing schedule mapped out for the next four years. My point being that even insomnia can be advantageous. The opportunities to scowl, uninterrupted, at a wall for hours on end during the day are fairly limited.


In a separate but probably related issue – I had my first coffee yesterday. I didn’t mean to – I was seduced by the word ‘chocolate’. I was out for lunch and we were studying the desert menu. The only really chocolatey thing was ‘Three artisanal truffles served with an Americano.’ Having no idea what an American was, but with a vague hope it might be Matt Damon related, I ordered, and found myself confronted with three tiny but delicious chocolates, together with a small jug of the Devil’s Juice or milk as everyone else calls it – and a cup of what I initially took to be engine oil. Turned out an Americano is a coffee. Who knew?

However, not one to avoid a challenge, I closed my eyes and sipped. It wasn’t that bad. A bit weird, but not bad. At the urging of others, I was induced to pour in a drop of milk. Still not bad. I would have preferred ice cream but apparently, that’s not an option for serious coffee drinkers.

So there we go – coffee and insomnia! Could they be connected? You read it here first!

18 thoughts on “Daydreaming in the Dark

  1. Jodie – you are a girl after my own heart.
    I also sleep badly. After years of this being work/stress related, it is now due to dog with a thing about a possible four footed intruder, at 2 am each morning. (Last week it was at 1am). By the time I have got downstairs, stopped the shoulder runs at the back door, and diverted his attention by way of food – I am no longer even vaguely sleepy!

  2. 20 years an insomniac …try a supplement with magnesium in!! I got one called Neuro Rest recently and so far so good…but my body is sleeping for 4 or 5 hours instead of 3 or 4 and does not know what has hit it!! Very groggy but at least I feel like I am on the right track. 🙂

  3. aha! You CAN have ice cream in your coffee!! My brother drinks it – espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It has a name…but I have no idea what it is. To me, coffee is coffee. LOL.

    I get the damn insomnia thing too. Once I’m asleep, I can sleep, no problems. But it’s the actual getting to sleep that eludes me.

    • Also, I’m assuming you’ve probably tried everything under the sun for the insomnia….but in case you haven’t, melatonin is brilliant. You need the real melatonin, not the “health food” stuff supplement. Here in australia, you have to get it on prescription :rolls eyes: – the stuff in the supplements in the chemist isn’t the real stuff. Think you can buy it over the counter overseas in some countries. My mother would bring it home from Indo for me – I would take two and seriously be out like a light. Only thing (other than sleeping tablets) that works for me.

      • Jaki – Love! I find it funny that here we can get Melatonin everywhere from the drug store (your chemist) to the grocery but cannot by Solpadeine without a scrip :/

  4. As I sit here drinking my third cup of “Americano” for the morning (I’m a nurse and it’s my day off – we drink it like historians drink tea), I find myself reading your post in Zara’s voice. Too funny. Wonder if I’ve always read them that way? I truly love your series – especially since I’m a “of a certain age” shortish, redhead myself. I live in American but truly hope sometime I am in the U.K. with perfect timing to come to one of your book signings!

  5. OK, did I miss something? What is “White Silence” and where do I get my hands on it? If Jodi wrote it I gotta read it ASAP! Can’t find it on either Amazon US or UK. Please, please, please, tell me there is another delicious JT book to devour.

    Regarding your insomnia, not that I want to do anything that would rein in your fevered brain, have you considered a sleep study?

    I worked in a sleep lab for 16 years, and saw the incredible growth of knowlege about all manner of sleep disorders. Insomnia has many causes, from alcohol to iron deficiency, caffeine (yes, even tea!) to blue light exposure from the ubiquitous electronics in our lives, erratic sleep schedules to abnormal brain waves.

    Any sleep disorder can have serious consequences for your health. Sleep disorders can cause things such as hypertension, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and car accidents. Most people need 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night. Every hour missed is equivalent to one shot of whiskey or other alcoholic drink in terms of driving, so being sleep-deprived is like driving drunk without knowing it.

    I selfishly want you to live a long time so you can write more of my favorite books, but I have come to have a great affection for you as a person. Your have such incredible wit and humor! But even more than that, you have depth of understanding and compassion for the abused and neglected. You are a treasure, Jodi Taylor.

    • Good point! I’ve learned that, with a few exceptions, anything I can do at 10:00 AM I can do just as well at 3:00 PM.

  6. Hi Jodi!
    I love your work!

    As an American with English/Scottish/Irish ancestry, I grew up drinking tea of all kinds. I had my first coffee, third year of college. It was, as you say, not so bad. It does grow on you over time. May I suggest a great simple recipe to satisfy your chocolate craving with a coffee twist:

    Make your favorite hot chocolate drink with a little bit extra cocoa powder.
    Make some fresh brewed coffee. (use a ratio of 6 to 7 oz of water to 1 rounded tbsp of fresh ground coffee). Mix chocolate drink & coffee together (50% each). Serve Hot.
    Sweeten as/if desired. Add milk if desired. Trust me: it is yummy!

    I still drink more tea than coffee. but I love them both. I suspect you will too.

    I frequently do not sleep well either, your response seems as good as any to me.
    Personally, I don’t see how getting a little work done can hurt anything. I think we all should remember that until the last couple of hundred years or so, most of humanity had a very none modern sleep pattern: sleep for a few hours, awake for few hours, then sleep for few hours again. Accurate clocks and affordable lighting, changed that pattern for most of us.

    I look forward to your next book(s) with great anticipation!

  7. If you like chocolate with a little coffee, I recommend trying Santander Espresso dark chocolate bars. The bars are made in Columbia on a plantation that grows both the cocoa and coffee beans. I finish off my breakfast tea every day with a couple of squares of a bar and feel ready for the world (sort of). I first tried the Santander bars when I read about them in books written by Marne Davis Kellogg. See how much an author can influence us!

  8. My partner says I sleep like the dead but I disagree… I dream in ‘Chapters’… that is I wake up in the middle of a dream and then go back to sleep and carry on with the same dream, this happens four or five times a night… and I always remember them… is this restful sleep or just my way of dealing with insomnia?

  9. Interesting to find this today. I woke at 2:30 this morning. Again. You accomplished much more than I did. I look forward to all of the above mentioned writings 🙂 ( White Silence? have I missed this ) I hope the insomnia goes away for all of us!

    As for coffee, who said you have to be a serious coffee drinker.There are very flavorful creamers available. I don’t use them often, but I do enjoy the cinnamon.

  10. This is off topic, but important to a number of us. I just received my pre-ordered e-book of “And the Rest is History.” PLEASE, PLEASE make sure that the e-book versions of your books are text-to-speech enabled. We love your books, but have vision issues. Please talk with your publisher to make sure your books can be enjoyed by ALL of your many fans.

  11. so this book 9 that you mention… is it actually the next book in the series? Because I’ve seen the compilation of short stories called “Book 9” and I don’t want to get my hopes up again.

    • No, it’s not the next in the series – it’s pulling together all the short stories into one volume plus a new short story – A Perfect Storm. There’s a new Christmas story to look forward to as well. I’m working on the next in the St Mary’s series at the moment, although I keep getting distracted by other projects – the sequel to White Silence and the story of the Battersea Barricades. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

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