Although a non-drinker, I’ve long maintained that you can get drunk on far more than just alcohol. And you don’t have to spend an evening at the bar in order to wake up with a hangover. Oddly enough, many of these hangovers can all be cured in the same way. Coffee, a cold shower, not too much sunlight. You can get drunk on staying up too late, and you can get drunk on laughter. Your inhibitions can get lowered in the same way, prompting you to say and do things that you wake up in the morning and don’t remember or stare at as if they were done by someone else. Sometimes your daring results in great things. Sometimes it’s just embarrassing.
You can also get drunk on books. Language is one of the strongest concoctions known to the human race, and too much of it can leave you in a daze that lasts for hours. You can get drunk on emotion, and feel drained and empty, staring at stupid games or mindless videos or just empty space. You can get drunk on the blood of a fictional character and lose your appetite, and your will to read any further. And these hangovers are not as easily cured.
You make tea, and for once you drink it, but it doesn’t seem to help. You make another cup and then go back and reread the last chapter, hoping that maybe it changed since the first time. It hasn’t. You brush it off as just a story, but it doesn’t help. You try to put that kind of fire and vengeance into your own work, but it’s impossible to harness that kind of energy. You step outside and stare into the wind and wonder how exactly one story managed to suck all meaning out of your life.
There is something in the brilliance of other people’s words that takes, instead of giving. You don’t use magic without paying the price, and these books are more of a spell than a harmless anecdote. They are created not only from the author’s heart, but from pieces of the souls of all those who will read it. It can take days for those souls to regrow, to start creating again. It’s a symbioses, and only barely voluntary, for it’s not like these books come with a warning label on the front. It’s not like there’s a help number to help those recovering from blow. There are no regulations on writing books that deliver their endings like a kick to the stomach. You can’t get over such things. You can only do your best to drown your sorrows and forget them.
For many, the cure for a hangover isn’t coffee or sleep or a shower. Sometimes the best cure for a hangover is the very thing that created it. Like an addiction, your body craves the very thing that hurts it.
So you start another book.