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How poetry ruined my life, episode 4

Does anybody else get literary hangover? You know, when you finish a major piece of writing and you get sick/exhaustion/brainlessness/depressed immediately after for a period of about two weeks? When I was a playwright, I’d unvaryingly get struck down with tonsillitis the day after every closing night. I just finished writing the last chapter of my verse novel. My studio is filled with late DVD rentals and OK magazines; the TV has been on rather a lot. I’ve discovered 2 for 1 packets of Doritos at the local servo and my couch has developed a bum-shaped indent that wasn’t there before.

Is this me burning out? Or am I just in recovery mode?

On the upside, the new Ashbery is bliss, like I’m walking around his streets with him every morning after my coffee and before my regular writing session. My poetry feels his influence, the lines are unabashedly growing longer, caesura are breaking the rhythm, there’s a meandering balance evolving in the stuff I’ve written since picking up the book. Lowell sits beside the bed, waiting for me to get to him. And I will.

If you want an example of my latest Ashbery inspired poems, go to: http://taramokhtari.wordpress.com

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Tara Mokhtari is a Persian-Australian poet and screenwriter based in New York. She is the author of The Bloomsbury Introduction to Creative Writing and Anxiety Soup.

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  1. Tara, when I finish a draft of my novel I feel the come down affects also. I miss my characters(but they’re not real!), I miss the world that I have created. Fiction land is so much easier than reality. You don’t like someone, you write them out. You don’t like something, you change it.

  2. the best part is that after the bottom-of-the-well slump there is a flurry of energy and ideas once the brain realises that the chunk of energy no longer dedicated to its imaginary friends has been loosed and can run around like a wild hound sniffing out whatever fresh trails it finds. yep, i go a bit bipolar. it’s hard to explain to other people.

  3. What I find hard is transitioning between writing something and running around after everyone else, which I have to do quite a bit. I am often forced to drop a piece of work, sometimes after just 3,000 words or less and then come back to it later while I run around like a headless chicken for a couple days, weeks or months.
    Problem is, when I come back to it I’ve lost the flow and struggle to get back into it which leaves me slightly depressed and massively lethargic from sitting down and trying to get the brain into motion.
    I find this affects both my writing and my work negatively. But I ain’t gonna give it up dammit! I guess I’m just a stubborn fool that just won’t curl up and die!

  4. I don’t know that I really finish recovering. I don’t really like myself much when I’m not working on something so I tend to start a new project to cure my hangover – literary hair of the dog, I guess. I often don’t write characters or scenarios that are enjoyable to disappear into so finishing can be a mixed blessing. I kind of want it to piss off, but I don’t know what to do with myself once it does.

  5. Marc, don’t curl up and die. I know what you mean, and it’s why I cut all my music industry ties, but I still have to teach, mark papers, write my thesis, prepare the occasional workshop/lecture, be human etc… I find it’s when I have the most distractions from writing that I want to write the most, so I just get up earlier in the morning to do it.

  6. No way I’ll ever curl up and die. I’m like a dog with a bone, I’ll never let it go even if it grows little bony legs and starts kicking me in the cheeks.

  7. The union got sick of me crashing their parties and “living” in their fridges. I tried to explain to them I wasn’t living in there, I was just stealing all their snacks. I’m a hungry, hungry hippo. I can’t fight my nature.

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