Insomnia and Paralysis


For some unexplainable reason, bouts of insomnia return to haunt me these days— in my particular case, when these moments strike, they hit me with a paralysis— if I try to follow the recommendations of leaving the bedroom and shift the feelings aside, the body sends mixed signals and incoherent thought patterns which result in a lack of productivity. In other words, I cannot write or read or draw or watch television— this is the closest I find myself to a state of vegetation. In these moments, I exist, unable to move or think creatively. The body may be at rest but the mind is raging forward, almost a hormonal storm at sea. Waking nightmares in a sense. Frustration.

2011 was a good year in a number of ways—received a few poetry acceptances, made strong connections, developed new ideas, proved to myself that the Internet’s Social Media concept can work in small ways.

What surprises me, on further reflection, I have six magazines submissions and seven manuscript inquiries floating around publishers’ desks— without any indication of possibility or decline. Usually by year’s end I will have two or three slower responding journals, who react once a query e-mail is sent— but this year a total of thirteen different publications have yet to respond to various projects. THIRTEEN. I find myself checking for new mail every other hour hoping I overlooked a response.

What this situation generates is a feeling of invisibility, of non-existence. Of paralysis. Perhaps this is my second greatest fear: being unable to creatively function in the world. To be unable to respond to the world or to not have the world respond back. This is a death in itself. A frustration building stronger as time passes. In a way, it is the same situation on campus when the semester begins, when the students place zombie-masks over their faces every term. Self-induced nihilism of intellect. A blank no-face. Silence. Communication shut down. Nothing going in. Nothing coming out. An existential crisis in itself.

The worst offender surprises me: Hunger Mountain. Back in March I sent four poems through the Submishmash submission manager system, and my work sits there, in the in-box, “in progress” mode. Two inquiry letters were sent. Posted a gentle “tweet” asking for clarification. No response at all. Not even a form letter saying my message was received.

And of course I have been circulating the work elsewhere. Simultaneous submissions are frowned upon by various journals; fewer these days than from a decade ago I notice. However, waiting over six months for a form-reject-letter is too extreme. So multiple mailings are sent.

Perhaps what irritates me the most is the fact Hunger Mountain was recommended to me by another writer. And the fact that the magazine is sponsored by Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Where I earned my MFA. Hello?

Perhaps it is time for the stone-age-out-dated system of communication: a phone call. We’ll see what happens in the near future.


  1. Maybe the almost-vegetative state is an essential part of the creative "process" my friend? In that stasis we hug our demons (in your case the fear of being unable to create) close to us - and in doing so challenge the comfortable plateaus we had reached... As I age I have begun to associate these strange periods of frustration (a nihilistic depersonalisation) as percursors of new fresh growth.
    Also, you have faced a very great change - becoming a parent absorbs and renews and changes us in so many unpredictable takes us in new directions and requires a different energy.
    As for the magazines etc. They clearly do not have the clear-sightedness to recognise talent or true poetic skill!
    I recognise the pain of new-terms that you have my sympathies...

  2. I am beginning to fear the reality of insomnia is returning— my grandmother suffered from it as does my mother— cannot escape genetics apparently. Tonight in fact, here I am, awake after an hour nap. At least I can see what changes can fall into place for all the writing projects set up these last few weeks— and catchup with a few blog-sites.

  3. Dear David,

    I'm shocked to learn about the neglectful

    treatment you've experienced from

    esteemed publications with regard to your

    poetic submissions.

    I think la mujer libre's comment

    is valuable and true,

    I wouldn't even call them, let them be.

    It's easy to say, but I would

    try to keep writing.

    Best Wishes for 2012!



  4. Mark, It is rare that this happens-- typically I hear back within six to nine weeks from all magazines. But you are right of course. I need to pick myself out of my moodiness and start looking for newer journals.


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