Wednesday, 25 January 2012

'On Why I’m not a Pilot'

by Wendy Meddour

Yesterday, a local reporter interviewing me at toddlers asked me the question everybody thinks:

“But you have 4 young children. When on earth do you find time to write?”

I wanted to say something profound or glamorous, like: "I have a wonderful nanny called Beatrice Lightheart who does most of the menial tasks." Or, "I share a delightful singing governess with a family called the Von Trapps."


But instead, I told the truth.

“Sleep deprivation,” I said.

Now, I'm not as impressive as Cindy's son (see the post 3 below). But I have exchanged sleep for writing. And it shows. (Well, my Mum says it does – but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is just age and I’m about as good as I’ll get). But it also shows in my work: my first ever book is full of broken nights: sleep walking, night-feeds, yawns, siestas and general, unadulterated exhaustion . . .


(Disclaimer: Any apparent publicity about Wendy's
debut novel - due out on Feb 2nd - is solely the result
of her severely disrupted sleep pattern.)

I smiled at the reporter and rubbed my eyes. “Lack of sleep helps the creative flow,” I said.

The reporter looked rather unconvinced as a small person threw a dinosaur in my coffee. (The small person was of course mine).

Now, I know that sleep deprivation isn’t completely advised. In fact, it’s decidedly not. (I believe it accounts for quite a lot of health-related conditions – depression, anxiety, stinted tissue repair, that sort of thing). And I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. But if you’re doing it anyway, (with 4 young children, it’s kind of a ‘life-style’ choice), then isn’t it best to put it to good use?

My best-friend (or am I too old for those?) is married to a pilot, and she tells me that I’m writing "in the Window of my Circadian Low." Isn't that wonderful? It makes my nocturnal scribbling sound so grand. And wait, it gets better!

If a pilot has to report to their place of work before 6am (disturbing the rhythm of their natural body clock), then they have been scheduled in a W.O.C.L .

And if they are scheduled in a W.O.C.L twice in a row, then they are not fit for duty (F.F.D). A double W.O.C.L , which I will refer to as a ‘wockle’ from here on – (poetic licence and all that), results in 36 hours off! Yes! 36 HOURS OFF!

That is why I’m a writer, and not a pilot. (Well, that and the whole ‘flying license’ and ‘skill’ thing). I would NEVER be fit for duty because I am constantly writing in my ‘wockle'. Or should that be 'wockling'. Not once. Not twice. But pretty much every night.

There’s only thing that really scares me. What if wockling is what makes me a writer? A good night’s sleep could mean the end of my budding writing career!

That’s why I need to ask you all one question. Please be honest. I really need to know....

Can a writer write well if they’re completely FIT FOR DUTY?


www.wendymeddour.wordpress.com

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10 comments:

Ness Harbour said...

As a writer whose body is permanently failing I am afraid to say I am definitely not FFD. Writing is my escape from this failure.

malrostan said...

Not being FFD in the classroom - or a pilot - is exactly what led me back to writing. Here we go a-wockling...

JO said...

This is the state of so many working mothers - a constant wockling dissonance between brain and body. But they realign eventually - and I hope you will look back and be proud: you have grown books and children. Wockling - pah!

Liz Kessler said...

Lovely post Wendy. I don't think you have any cause for concern. Firstly because I think you would be a good writer under any circumstances - and secondly because with your four kids, I imagine you have a good few years to go before you're likely to have a whole load of good nights' sleep!

For the record, I'm the opposite. I can only write when I'm feeling FFD. I very much like your new word though, so I might have to start forcing myself out of bed before 6 am, just so I can tell people I've been wockling!

Rebecca Emin said...

Ha! What a great post. I was getting up at 3am at times to spend an hour writing when I drafted my first novel.

Sadly, recently I have had to monitor my sleep more carefully as sleep deprivation triggers my 3 day migraines. I can sympathise with the parent/writer balance though. Love the cover of the book.

Savita Kalhan said...

Wendy, a great post! I'm in awe of your wockling skills - and your juggling skills! But I do hope you get the occasional good night's sleep...
Good luck with the book launch.

Ann Turnbull said...

Wendy, I am so impressed by your wockling! I tried it more than 35 years ago when I had just one child - a colicky baby who was always awake when I was FFD. I wrote a 25,000 word novel that has never been published. After that I gave up wockling for good. If you can write well now, I reckon you'll be able to do it in any circumstances.

Susan Price said...

You seem to have invented a new word! OED, here you come. But I suspect that writers are never quite FFD, wockling or not.

Wendy Meddour said...

Thanks for all your lovely reassuring comments. But I still suspect I'm nothing without wockling. (Will just have to set the alarm clock erratically in years to come) x

Jane Stemp said...

Sometimes I think my whole life is one long wockle... a certain degree of tiredness I actually find inspiring because my brain stops policing my writing - but I have to be well and reasonably happy. Ill health and misery are killers.