We think we’ve got it licked, this sleeplessness thing.

Wrong.

Even when we’re not troubled, the brain buzzes; plays its attempt to order the Rubik’s Cube of the days and weeks ahead—what gets moved, what gets sold, in what order, what job to consider, what my life ought to be. The clock says 12:30. We went to sleep before 11. It says 1:30. 3:45. 4:30.

Come, Sleep. Come to me.

The tape recorder is my friend. Not the friend I speak to; instead, the one I listen to. The playbacks of chapters, completed or partial, are more than my test of how well the words and phrases sit in the ear. They are also the bedtime story; the comfort of the voice late at night.

In much the way I’ve been tapping my own emotions and experiences to help build plot and personality in the WiP, I created a character around the sound of a murmuring human voice. Carson speaks the serene singsong of an arcane and specialized craft. His voice bonds to the person to whom he is guiding to keep them anchored in the real world; to keep him alive.

Make no mistake…I’m not saying the sound of my own voice does not have lifegiving properties. Heaven forbid. But my own voice—even over the hissy distortion of this little recorder—does embrace the nuance of phrases, the songs of speech, the staccato pace of fragmentary sentences that act upon the reader’s ear as human thought does. And for me, late at night, it is something else….

It is the stories told to me before I was born. The campfire and nightlight moments. The little electronic pillow that helps me find the sleep that’s playing one mean game of hide-and-seek in my head.

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