Hope, Faith and Summertime

This photo is for Hope, who sent me this amazing and beautiful iced tea maker from Teavana, in celebration of continuing summer enjoyment. That’s a strawberry-lemonade herbal blend that’s just delicious. Note that my morning glories are climbing right up the post now, too.

I love when an act of faith is rewarded. Gardening is very much an act of faith. We put the seeds in the ground and hope they will eventually bear fruit. We can water and fertilize, trim and coax, but ultimately whether the plants flourish or wither is up to the vagaries of the universe.

Writing is like this, too. In some ways, it feels like an even greater act of faith to me, because we spend so much time and effort laboring alone for something that may never see the outside of a drawer. Even a really excellent book may never be well-received, for any number of reasons. And yet, we continue to hope, to believe. It’s like that old saw that went around a while back about women over forty having a greater chance of being killed by a terrorist than of getting married (which turned out to be completely fraudulent data, by the way) – we look at the statistics and resolve to be one of the lucky ones. (It helps to know that those statistics are often damn lies, to paraphrase.)

I think this is part of it though. In gardening, writing and other works. It’s good for us as human beings to invest faith in the universe. To express hope through effort.

Perhaps it’s what we’re here for.

Story Intrusion

This is Isabel’s favorite summer snoozing spot – on the east side of the house, in the shade, where she gets a lovely little breeze. It has the added bonus of a wall she can put her back against or, as she is here, press with her back paws.

Yes, I have to go pet her all the time. The cuteness is too much to resist.

The other evening I was out on the patio, too, reading Zoe Archer’s Blades of the Rose bundle. (For those of you not snapping up every ebook deal you can find, a “bundle” is like a digital box set. In this case, I was able to get all four of the books in her Blades of the Rose series for the price of one book. Fab deal. The only thing is, Kindle measures reading progress by percent, not page numbers. So, when you’re reading four books essentially at once, you’re stuck in the low percentages FOREVER. 3%. 4%. 5%. I have to get over it… But I digress.) While I was reading her lovely story, bits of The Middle Princess started floating through my head.

This is a good thing. First, it means that Zoe’s stories are inspiring and put me in the best frame of mind to create my own stories. I think it’s really a high compliment to the author. Second, it means that Middle Princess is talking to me and that part of me is connecting to the story even when I’m not actively writing. I don’t know how other novelists do it, but I really need that kind of ongoing flow, especially since I can’t work on it all day long. It’s also a lovely, dreamy feeling.

The phenomenon reminds me of REM intrusion. REM is Rapid Eye Movement sleep, of course, or dreaming sleep. What’s really interesting about sleep-deprivation studies is that they all show that the main effect of sleep deprivation is sleepiness. This seems silly until you think about it. The symptoms of sleepiness – feelings of fatigue, intense desire to sleep, blurred vision, murky thinking – all intensify the more sleep is missed. With sleep, the symptoms disappear again.

The really measurable effect of sleep deprivation is when REM sleep is lost.

Studies have been done where people were allowed to sleep as much as they liked, but were awakened whenever their brains kicked into REM. This has dramatic and rapid effects. People quickly lose the ability to make rational decisions instead of emotional ones. The most minor problem becomes insurmountable. After a few days, the need for REM state becomes so desperate that the brain spontaneously goes into REM even while people are awake, called REM intrusion.

Yeah, you actually start dreaming while you’re up and about. Puts a whole ‘nother spin on hallucinations, doesn’t it?

I kind of wonder if Story Intrusion (my term) isn’t similar, though less pathological. I hope.

Maybe I’ll go have a nap by the side of the house.