Of Beds and Writing

I need a bed. I’m not sleeping well and my bed has divots and really, I needed a bed quite some time ago. Here’s the problem.

I hate buying a bed more than I hate root canal (and I’ve done both.)  Here’s why. First, I’m convinced bed salespeople are the equivalent of the used car salesman in the furniture world. You just don’t know if they are telling the truth and I worry that their version of the truth will cost me a lot of money, bad sleep and I’ll be back in a couple of years looking for a new bed. You can’t really look inside a bed and even if you do, will you understand what you see? And even if you do, will you know if it’s comfortable? So you lay on it. Seems okay, but can you know until you have it at home and have spent eight quality hours on top of it every night for a few weeks until you get used to it not having divots and sagging and so forth? Oh, sure, some beds come with an in home money back test period, but anyone who knows me knows that if I take it home, I’m living with it. I’m much too lazy to break it down and send it back and besides, what would I sleep on in the mean time?

So you’re probably asking, aside from the obvious of bad sleep leading to bad or no writing, what does buying a bed have to do with being a writer? Well a lot of coincidental things that just at the moment strike me as extraordinarily meaningful, but then again, I’m sleep deprived. All the same, I’m going to share.

1: Writers are bed salespeople. We could be lying, we could be telling you the truth, but really, what do we know about the way you sleep/read and what you like? Try the book (at least it doesn’t cost as much as a bed)

2. Buying a bed is a lot like starting a book. It feels like you know nothing, and the more you research and learn, the less you really know and then at some point, you’ve got to fish or cut bait and where do you start? What do you put on that blank page/screen? And worse, what will it cost you if you make the wrong choice? But you’ve got to write, like you’ve got to sleep, and you can’t go on researching forever (okay, you can, but publishers aren’t inclined to look favorably on you when you don’t deliver the book).

3. After 10 years, a regular innerspring mattress will weigh twice what it did when you bought it, because it will be full of dust and debris and dustmites and dustmite droppings. I have a terrible fear this happens the longer I work on a book. (I dare not think about it in relation to my bed or I’ll have the screaming willies).

4. Dustmites don’t like latex or foam and they can’t live in the rubber of an air bed. Which is to say, the traditional method isn’t always the best one and trying something new could be very beneficial. Don’t fear taking chances with a book. After all, if it doesn’t work, you’ll only have to gut it or start pretty much from scratch, right? Hmmm. Suddenly my heavy dustmite infested mattress/book is looking a lot better. Why is that?

5:Brand names on beds might mean a good bed, but sometimes the lesser known or new brands can be just as good or better. Same with books.

6: Hmmm. Beds are shaped like books except bigger. Very meaningful.

And a final thought.  Bookstores are infinitely more fun than bed stores. So why don’t you go to the bookstore right now and buy a book? Doesn’t even have to be one of mine, though, really, I wouldn’t mind if it was. Then take it home to your nice comfy bed and snuggle down and read. It’s a good thing to do in the winter. Oh, now I suppose you’re going to tell me winter hasn’t arrived at your house yet. Did I mention it snowed here last week? And we’re under a winter storm watch? We could get up to 12 inches of snow? And my bed is no good to snuggle in. I guess I’d better write . . .

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  1. 1. Tim of Angle

    Try to go to sleep on it in the store. If you can spend about five minutes in your normal “going to go to sleep” position, that ought to give you a pretty good idea of how well it will work for you. (If they won’t let you, they’re not serious about wanting your business. Point out that car salesmen let you do a test drive.)

    In my experience, memory foam mattresses like Tempur-pedic are best. I’ve heard good things about the Select Comfort “Sleep Number” mattress, but it’s essentially an air mattress, and I’ve not had good luck with air mattresses.

  2. 2. Alma Alexander

    ON THE BED FRONT: I know what you mean adn luckily I’ve only had to make that decision ONCE – when we moved to Washington we retired the old Queen which we’d been sleeping on in Florida and bought ourselves a new bed to go with the new house – so far, so good, we like it, it’s just the right hardness (sometimes hotel beds are just TOO SOFT TO SLEEP ON and I don’t get much sleep at conventions because of THAT and not because of partying all night… ye gods, I’m an old geezer….) and it’s a King. This means that it basically takes over the entire room with a few inches’ walkway around the back where I’m at; that sometimes annoys me, but it isn’t a sleep-quality issue. It’s a live-with-it thing. But we lucked out – and before it got delivered we slept on the floor of our new house for a week or so and when the bed DID arrive we greeted it with the enthusiastic acclaim of worshippers anyway…

    ON THE WRITING FRONT – who knew that a bed and a book had so much in common? [giggle] I may have to frame this post…

  3. 3. karen wester newton

    I saw a news program on mattress stores on TV. The big chains all cut deals with the mattress manufacturers to sell them models exclusively. So, Sealy might make 6 models but they have one set of names at Mattress Discounters and another set of names at Sleepy’s, just to make it hard for consumers to compare prices.

    Im trying ot think of a writerly equivalent and I guess pseudonyms is the closest. Or maybe ghost writing.

    Good luck. Sleep is very important.

  4. 4. Rabia

    I had to comment. I bought a book today. The Turning Tide, to be exact. And no, I did not read this post beforehand.

    Bookstores are way more fun than furniture stores, hands down, any day of the week.

  5. 5. Diana Pharaoh Francis

    Tim: the salespeople might let me sleep. My kids? not so much. But I will endeavor.

    Alma: we’re looking at finally getting a king too. Since T’s over 6 feet and I’m close, the extra room will be very nice.

    Karen: see, now that strikes me as just the sort of thing a used car lot would do. I believe I am now vindicated. If I needed to be . . .

    Yay Rabia! hope you enjoy!

  6. 6. D. Moonfire

    Heh, I happened to get a Sleep Number bed some years ago. Got a chance to try it out at a friend’s house when I was sleeping. Plus, I kill mattresses in general (don’t move much and sleep on the edge), so I was willing to try it. Worked out great for me, plus it breaks down so small it is almost a pleasure to move.

    Some (lot) years ago, I was buying a mattress and the sales lady kept laying on the bed next to me and it was distracting. Finally, I look at her and said, “If you aren’t part of the sale, please stop that.” Much nicer experience after that. :D

    But, I can see how it equates to book. The problem I have, naturally, is getting that first sale. I also tried laying provocatively on the cover, but I got people asking me for money to take it off my hands…

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Author Information

Diana Pharaoh Francis

Diana Pharaoh Francis has written the fantasy novel trilogy that includes Path of Fate, Path of Honor and Path of Blood. Path of Fate was nominated for the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award. Recently released was The Turning Tide, third in her Crosspointe Chronicles series (look also for The Cipher and The Black Ship). In October 2009, look for Bitter Night, a contemporary fantasy. Diana teaches in the English Department at the University of Montana Western, and is an avid lover of all things chocolate. Visit site.

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