There are two types of book hangovers I’ve dealt with and I’ll talk about them today.
Let’s start with the one that everyone, at least if you’re a reader, has dealt with. I’ll go into more detail about the other one in a minute.
The Readers Hangover
Have you ever read a book, finished it, thought about it for days, then realize you hadn’t started new reading material?
If so, this is for you.
Most of us who read regularly have dealt with this. It usually happens after a particularly engaging read.
This engagement may fall into a couple of categories, but because I’m a horror writer, I’ll stick to the way horror does this.
It could be after a book that upsets the hell out of you. For me the book that did this was The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. I know this is a book that is suggested by many people, but step warily into this one, for it will do some damage to your psyche.
The thing about this book is the writing. Ketchum’s storytelling is incredible and it pulls you into a story that is unbelievable in its disturbing depictions. I won’t spoil it, but you feel complicit in what happens within its pages. It is an amazing book, but it’s not for everyone. I know quite a few horror readers who didn’t finish it and I understand.
I checked it out from the library and tossed it across the room a couple of times.
Then there’s the books that terrify in other ways.
Pet Semetary by Stephen King and The Reddening by Adam L.G. Neville did this. The Reddening was a book that I had trouble finishing because of a certain scene. My wife felt the same way. It’s one of those scenes where you wish you could pull the character out of the book to save them. Pet Semetary is a book that even King says he kept in a drawer because he felt it was too dark. There are moments in that book that truly scared the hell out of me.
Now there’s the books that you feel uncomfortable with. These are the hardcore horror.
Books like Urban Gothic by Brian Keene, The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White, and anything by Edward Lee. I have read the first two, but haven’t dipped my toes into Edward Lee out of fear, and a bit of worry. I’ve read the comments on his books, and the scare me.
Let’s move onto the other type of hangover. This one is for the writers.
The Finished Story Hangover.
You’ve finished a story. It could be a novel, novella or short story, but something happened while you wrote it.
It either took you to a darker place than you’ve been, made you rethink your life(as some stories do), or you confronted something within yourself.
This first part is difficult to get out of. You did some things in that story you’re uncomfortable with. You either don’t want to show it someone, like King did with Pet Semetary, or you wonder about what people will think about what you’ve written. The most important way to get out of this one is to not care what others think about what you write.
The second part usually deals with something about our beliefs. This is one each of us must deal with and while we’re dealing with it we’ll read scripture if we’re into that or philosophy. But pulling us out of that hangover is difficult.
That last is possibly the most difficult, at least for me it has been. You must face something you see in yourself. The confrontation for this disrupts the natural flow of your personal perception.
You may not understand why it came out in your writing, but now that it has you have to confront it, but you don’t want to. Seeing yourself differently after living however long you’ve lived changes something and I think improves who you are as a person.
All of these hangovers are subjective to you as the reader or writer and they don’t define who you are. The hangover is there because you read, or wrote something that changed you and that’s what the medium is for.
I hope you have a great rest of your day. I am reading Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby and I know it will give me a hangover. His last book Blacktop Wasteland did.