Insomnia is the canary in my mineshaft. Just when I think I know what I’m doing in a novel, it swoops in to chirp that I don’t know what I’m doing at all. After staring at the darkened ceiling for hours, I realize there’s flawed logic to be resolved. Too clever for my own good, I’ve painted my protagonist into a corner, corralled him or her into thinking or doing something contradictory to their true self. I dislike an unsolved riddle. A loose end is torture. Until I’ve figured out how to step out of that corner and continue onward, there’ll be no sleep.
These issues always surprise me. Things were going so well! I thought my characters loved me back. Aren’t they happy living inside the plot I’ve built for them? Apparently not. Cut! They pout in their trailer, lock me out, refuse to act the next scene. I’ve taken them for granted and now they want their own directorial debut.
The truth is this: I’ve started to think like me instead of thinking like them.
And now, they refuse to tell me what will happen next. I have to guess. Until the issue is settled, I can’t fall asleep. Or I’ll fall asleep for ten minutes and wake again. I used to battle the wakefulness—flip and flop, yank the covers, check the clock. 1:05, 1:30, 3:00 am. The next day would be a creative write-off. Now I reframe insomnia. I’m giving birth to an idea. Inconvenient wakefulness is labour pains, because writing is work, a beautiful work. But work, none the less.
And so, I get up. I write for as long as it takes, knowing I’ll sleep in the next day. I brainstorm plot adjustments and dialogue palatable to the characters and magically, our creative differences dissolve. We’re on speaking terms again and a portion of the day’s work is complete. I’m relieved and ready to dream.
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Sacrifice, betrayal, family secrets! A widower and young mother struggle to overcome their tragic pasts in a dying mill town. The Last Hoffman is the story of a quiet man who is tested and discovers his courage. It will restore your belief in second chances.
“For all the novel features characters that are alone, it is a story driven by human connections (…) With vivid descriptions, natural dialogue and in-depth characterization, Tuinman compels us to look beyond the surface. The ending is triumphant.” –Gail Murray, Historical Novel Society
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