Bedtime Stories: The short, long and tall tales of a sleepwriter
by Barbara Worton Barbara Worton
||Great Little Books, LLC
Bedtime Stories is a collection of tales pulled from the stacks of journals Worton penned to write herself to sleep. This delicious book with a clarity of spirit is also a how to write yourself to sleep.
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Great Little Books, LLC
Great Little Books, LLC
There are books that make you feel good. That make you squirm. That make you laugh. That slap you on the face like a cold hit of reality. That make you wonder how youíve come this far in life. And there are books that make you feel you can take on the world and win. Bedtime Stories: The short, long and tall tales of a sleepwriter is such a book.
At bedtime, author and sleepwriter Barbara Worton picks up a pad and pen, and writes down the first words and ideas that pop into her head. She keeps writing for three pages to get down the story her relaxing mind wants to tell and slips into a deep restorative sleep. She calls this technique sleepwriting. Itís her way of turning off the noise of the day, quieting her mind, connecting to her subconscious and writing herself to sleep.
Bedtime Stories: The short, long and tall tales of a sleepwriter is a collection of tales pulled from the stacks of sleepwriting journals Worton has penned over the years. Herein lie tales of love, nostalgia, sex, wishes, growing up and the absurd. Tales to start you dreaming or rev your creative engines, and tales that youíll never forget. When we turn the last page of this book, we are left with a smile in our minds. Plus, this delightful book is also a how-to, with sleepwriting instructions for readers and a call for them to submit their stories for possible publication in the next book in her Bedtime Stories series.
Excerpt from Bedtime Stories: The short, long and tall tales of a sleepwriter
by Barbara Worton
Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul keep. If I dieÖ
Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord to stop my stomach from aching, to stop this craving and to stop my mouth from eating cookies, big fat chocolate chip cookies.
I look like a whale. I lie here, and I can feel this big stomach of mine, and I am disgusted. Really disgusted. Pig. Pig. Pig. I couldnít pass on the chips, stop at one cookie?
Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.
Creeps on in its petty pace (Oh my God, this is another Shakespearean tragedy) to the last 2,000-calorie meal. Why do I keep eating when I feel bloated, fat, disgusting?
Who is the patron saint of Weight Watchers, and why isnít she answering my prayers? Okay, tomorrow. Iím seriously back on my diet.
No bread. No carbs at all. None!
I donít want to freak, so maybe I should cut back slowly.
Only one cookie. No wine. Well, maybe wine and no cookie or bread. Or maybe...
Iíll just wire my jaw.
RJ McGill 3Rs Reading Den
The new release from author Barbara Worton is a delicious mix of miniature stories, poems and incidental thoughts for you to ponder. "BedTime Stories: The short, long and tall tales of a sleepwriter" cannot be labeled or placed neatly into a box and that is the beauty of it.
Sleep is an elusive treasure for millions of people and had been for Barbara Worton for years. In the forward she admits counting sheep only led to thinking about bills and 'now I lay me' was simply too scary. With a love of books and writing, she had never been able to carve time out of a busy day to write, so she combined the need for restorative sleep and the desire to write, dubbing herself formally a "sleepwriter." Beginning with the first word or sentence that enters her mind, she writes, three pages, unedited and uncorrected. At the conclusion of the third page she is ready to drift off into a state of sweet slumber.
From rubber ducks to the city dump, Worton's subjects are as pitch perfect as only love, loss, success and failure can engender. How many of us have searched for hidden messages in alphabet soup? Or missed a loved one so much it hurt? In one particularly touching story, entitled "Merc i," she reveals the heart ache associated with losing a loved one and the very real desire to feel they are still with you in some way.
At the end of the book, Barbara includes "How to Become A Sleepwriter," which provides the basic framework for aspiring sleepwriters. She also invites readers to take the sleepwriting challenge and share your progress with her and the Great Little Books team. In addition to earning some much needed zzz's your sleep story could be selected for publication in a future edition of BTS.
Barbara Worton is a born storyteller. Sometimes provocative, sometimes hilarious, but always honest, the stories are mini flights of fictional fancy crafted around the ordinary objects present in our daily lives. Uninhibited, richly textured and beaming with a quiet brilliance that touches the soul, BTS gives you permission to set your imagination free and encourages you to find meaning in the mundane.
I recommend this Great Little Book to everyone! This is a perfect stocking stuffer or birthday gift for the book lover in your life. Refreshing, chock-full of personality and written with an awe inspiring clarity of spirit that is thoroughly entertaining, you will read and re-read these stories, as this is one of those rare books that is meant to be savored...slowly and often. Adorable, amusing and thought provoking, sleep stories are as addictive as chocolate --I anxiously await the next delicious edition.
Getting a Good Night's Sleep
Getting a good night's sleep
Sunday, October 28, 2007
By ANDREA BOYARSKY
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Every night Barbara Worton writes. She writes about aging, love and loss.
Sometimes she writes about sillier things like pickles and cows. She lets her mind go in whatever direction
it wants. Then, she falls asleep.
She calls it "sleepwriting," and in her new book, "BedTime Stories: The short, long and tall tales of a
sleepwriter" (Great Little Books), the former Staten Islander shares her work and secret to a good night's
"The process really helps to free the subconscious and when you do that, you kind of start hearing your
own voice," Mrs. Worton said via phone from the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany.
The Glen Rock, N.J., resident continued, "With sleepwriting, my mind starts telling the story it needs to tell.
All that rubbish that's been built up over the day comes out."
Mrs. Worton explained that she can't fall asleep until she's done something personally meaningful with her
day. She needs to do something other than work or care for her home that advances her sense of self.
"This is not like writing with an objective," she said. "This is just letting your brain take over and do what it
wants to do. It's really relaxing in a way that's different from anything else that I know how to do."
Each night, she writes three pages, starting with the first words that pop into her head. In her favorite
sleepwriting story, "Orlando," she wrote about five cows who rang her doorbell one night. They were
collecting money for the Friends of Cows Retirement Farm and hoping to move to Orlando, Fla. Although
a bit hesitant at first, she decides to give the cows the money they need.
After she writes stories like "Orlando," she doesn't always immediately know what they mean. Later on,
someone pointed out that it's about making life choices and doing things that don't make sense, even
though you know you have to do them.
Other stories have more concrete meanings behind them. "No Answer" is a sleepwriting work about her
mother, who died about two years ago.
"I really wanted to talk to her. Oftentimes, I think about how much I want to talk to her as I go to sleep,"
explained Mrs. Worton, who is a freelance writer by day. She added, "A lot of the phrases that I use in the
story are things she might have said. I just could hear her. I could hear the conversation she and I might
Mrs. Worton, 58, learned about the concept behind sleepwriting -- although she did not call it that at the
time -- while attending Staten Island Community College, now the College of Staten Island, in the early
1970s. She took a poetry course with Armand Schwerner, who taught her about automatic writing. He
came into class with an egg timer and instructed the class to write until all the sand ran down.
"The first time I did it, it really blew me away," she recalled. "As I started doing it, I got stuff out quick and
when I was finished, I was really relaxed."
Mrs. Worton also took a journaling class while at the college. She lived in various parts of Staten Island,
including Tompkinsville and Silver Lake, until 1978. She continued with her writing and nine years ago,
she started sleepwriting on a nightly basis.
Her sleepwriting grew from what she learned reading "The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher
Creativity," by Julia Cameron. The book suggests three pages of non-stop writing every morning.
When she first began with her night writing, sometimes her mind would trail to things she did or didn't do
during the day. But through the years, she learned to bypass the process of not knowing where to start.
"When I pick up my notebook, I jump right into the process of funny, goofy thoughts going through my
head," Mrs. Worton said.
Some of the stories in her book were written 15 years ago, while others were written recently. When she
and her husband, Geoff, moved in 2005, she found all her notebooks while unpacking. There were around
30 of them and she started to read.
"It was almost the same as reading the journals I kept in college," she noted. "Like reading something
written by a person I didn't know anymore. I got a different perspective on myself."
Before Mrs. Worton started her freelance writing career, she worked in advertising. Following the Sept. 11
attacks, she lost many of her corporate clients, forcing her to take her business in new directions.
In October 2006, she started her own publishing company, Great Little Books, which launched with
"BedTime Stories." She plans to turn her sleepwriting into a series, with the next book featuring
submissions from readers. She is publishing books by other authors as well.
When asked about what she hopes people get from her sleepwriting stories, Mrs. Worton replied, "I hope
they laugh. I hope they feel good about themselves. I hope it makes them see it's OK to feel what they feel.
I hope I give people something to think about that makes them feel good about life overall."
The book can be found at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. For more information on
sleepwriting or Barbara Worton, visit www.greatlittlebooksllc.com.
Andrea Boyarsky is a features reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at
© 2007 Staten Island Advance
© 2007 SILive.com All Rights Reserved.
Writing Herself to Sleep
Writing herself to sleep
New book of short stories from Hoboken author; reading Nov. 2
For many, the memory of whispered bedtime stories recalls a time when the world was simple and not a cause for sleepless nights. Yet for most
adults, even recollections of childhood can't ease one to sleep.
Former Hoboken resident and author Barbara Worton was tired from restless nights and the inability to shut down those inner voices nagging at
her. She longed for a way to get some shuteye. Out of that frustration, the idea of "writing herself to sleep" was born.
Her book, Bedtime Stories: The short, long, and tall tales of a sleepwriter, is not only a beautiful collection of short stories, but an aid for anyone
who suffers from sleepless nights.
Bedtime Stories was published by Great Little Books and was released last month. The author will share some of her secrets and her perfect little gems of
a story on Friday, Nov. 2 at Symposia Bookstores in Hoboken when she reads from her collection at 7 p.m. In addition, Worton will sign copies of her
book and explain her sleepwriting process.
Write away worries
Like many of us, Worton struggles to create a balance between everyday demands and the need to do something creative. She became inspired by the
book, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron and Mark Byron, which explains a useful writing exercise that entails
writing non-stop for three pages and not editing the work until one is finished.
Although the book suggested writing in the morning, Worton began writing at night.
In her book, she says, "I write my pages at night. I start each story with the first word or sentence that pops into my head and let my mind unravel and my
body wind down. The daily buzz of doing things other people want me to do grows quiet. By the time I've reached my third page of writing, I put down
my pen and journal, and I'm tuned down enough to fall into a deep and restorative sleep."
According to Worton, she's been sleepwriting since 1991 and has many notebooks filled with her sleepwriting.
"It really does take you into a dream state," said Worton during a recent phone interview. "You just have to be able to surrender. It's hard to turn off the
day, and when you are under stress your subconscious doesn't want to give in, because you are afraid to lose control."
She added that on the nights when she is most tired it is most beneficial. "You are literally at your dream by the time you get to the end," said Worton.
Cows, pickles, and dreams
The stories in her book, about 50 in all, were all taken from the notebooks that she wrote in before bed. While some of the stories are similar to "flash
fiction" (really short stories or character sketches), others are more lyrical like "One Salty Tale."
The opening lines have a rhythmic quality: "Five baby pickles all in a row. Dill mini gherkins dancing heel to toe. One step forward. Two steps back. All
of these gherkins dancing tap, tap, tap."
Worton begins and ends with same phrase and continues the beat throughout the vignette, which is sensory experience for the reader as she describes
pickles tasting of lemonade, and soaking in brine.
The whimsical "Orlando" tells the tale of a group of talking cows trying to retire to Florida.
The melancholy "If Only" muses on lost chances and time gone by. The narrator, a middle-aged woman, watches a young man soar across a pothole on a
bike land unscathed on the pavement. She wishes that she "could go out and buy the courage to ride a bike in the city, never mind sail over potholes."
These and the other stories in the collection tell in broad strokes emotional truths that often get buried in daily life. Yet in a few deft sentences Worton
reminds the reader that a good imagination can expand one's reality.
From advertising to writing
Before penning her bedtime stories, Worton spent a dozen years working in advertising and spent years polishing her craft. Her first job out of college
was as an editorial assistant for various publishing houses. While working in publishing, she was promoted to associate editor and also worked as a
In 1991, she began working as a freelance writer full-time. In addition to her latest book, Worton has had her stories published in many magazines and
co-wrote the play If I'm Talking, Why Aren't You Listening? with Linda Jenkins. The play was performed in Manhattan, New Jersey, and Boston in 1991
to 1992. According to Worton, she plans to publish another collection of sleep writing in December of 2008. It will include submissions of other writers'
"What I'm trying to do actually is to get people who are doing this," said Worton. "Part of my objective is to create a community of writers."
Worton said that often a solution to a problem will appear after sleep-writing it.
"If I'm working on assignment and I'm really stuck," said Worton. "I find that the solution to the problem pops into my head."
For more information about the technique, visit: www.greatlittlebooksllc.com.
Barbara Worton will read from Bedtime Stories: The short, long, and tall tales of a sleepwriter on Friday, Nov. 2 at Symposia Bookstores in Hoboken.
Comments on this story can be sent to: email@example.com.
©The Hudson Reporter 2007
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