I have a writing hangover. It’s that feeling I get when there’s been something I wanted to write, or needed to write, and haven’t been able to, and then I finally do. It felt SO good to complete and send it off, but MAN I feel hung over. Do you get writing hangovers?
I do, especially with big and important pieces of writing. Some pieces of writing really fight to stay unwritten. At least mine do.
Maybe this happens because I’m swamped with life maintenance activities, which I am terrible at and get overwhelmed by, so even sitting to write at all is hard. Maybe it’s because I am distracted, distractible. Really distractible. I distract myself from most of my ideas by having more ideas! And while I haven’t finished the important thing, I also want to dive into the new thing, and sometimes I do. This means that for every big-ish piece of writing I complete, I have usually started at least three other pieces along the way. (How do people sometimes find themselves without ideas? This has never happened to me.) Or, even more frustratingly, even when I am strong and responsible and stop myself—dodge another rabbit hole!—I still am basically fried now by the interruption anyway. What kind of victory is it if fighting for it renders me unable to enjoy the spoils?
So that was happening, has been happening, much more than usual for the last couple of months. During the past two months, I have been needing to write the “victim impact statement” I will give in court next Thursday at the sentencing hearing of the person who sexually abused me in childhood. (More on that soon!) It was hard to write, so very hard. Of course it would be—what one statement could ever summarize the effect of any one event, a traumatic event in this case, especially forty years after it happened? It has had lots of time to stew. Or for a less yummy metaphor, it has been festering and oozing for four decades, its putrescence seeping and spreading along all my inner cracks and crannies. While regular cleaning and occasional blasts of strong disinfectant can do a lot, there’s still a real buildup after forty years.
So the statement was hard to write, and I kept writing parts of it in my head and on paper and in computers, rehearsing it and reframing it. While I was doing this, of course time outside of the writing continued to elapse, and life went right on life-ing. So, while I was not-writing the statement I was also returning to work, caring for children, handling medical needs for multiple people, fighting insurance companies, cooking, cleaning, dealing with money, making appointments, going to meetings, filling out forms, doing all my side gigs, home repairing… I know that only some of these things are unusually taxing for most people. For me, even getting the mail, opening it, and dealing with anything needed within it can sometimes take me a week—and all the while, more mail comes every day. My whole life feels like that now.
But now I have written it!! It exists! I have written it and it exists, and I have sent it to the DA’s office, and I shall read it in court. After sending it I shut my laptop, greeted my son who was just getting off the school bus, and immediately set out to buy a disco ball and mount it on a pole (long story), purchase food from a drive-through against my better judgment (received all the wrong food), contend with boss-level traffic and parking issues (these are of the devil!) and delivered my son to a parade float. And had a full-on meltdown which I spilled right onto a loved one. And watched a three-hour parade and was literally pelted by three pounds of candy. And ate candy.
And this is why today I have a hangover, without drinking or drugs or anything. It is in fact a writing hangover.
(but hey! I am writing!)