[Now that I have finished writing the sober book, and cover art is being designed (!), I have spent some time looking back on earlier journals about the writing process. i can see that it took a LOT longer than i thought it would to find out HOW to write, to find a pattern, a rhythm.
i discovered that writing is like early sobriety: shit is hard, then it gets easier, then we don’t know what we’re doing, then we figure some things out, and then we make daily, small progress.
i’m going to post some of the writing that i did over the last year that ‘helped’ me figure out the sober writing thing. Because the parallels with sobriety are huge and many.]
June 29, 2015 – 5:15 a.m.
i explained to Mr. B. last night in bed, i have the writing tools, i have the talent, i have something to say, the part to figure out is psychological. How to find a routine (like getting up at 5:15 a.m.) that i can just move into without too much wrestling. How to self-soothe enough (i demonstrate what self-soothe means to him by stroking his arm, once, twice, three times). I know he doesn’t understand, so i say “i’m going to try different things until something clicks.”
<begin writing extract> This physical sensitivity, it extends beyond clothing. I’m super ticklish and so I have only had two pedicures in my life. (And you’re like oh I love pedicures, maybe I’m NOT super sensitive, I’m NOT like her at all, good I can STOP reading this book now, I don’t HAVE a drinking issue, because I don’t do THAT.)
I’m jumpy. Highly tuned central nervous system. I hate the dentist because I am so squirrely. I’ve been known to bite the hand that drills me. He’ll say “let me know if this hurts” and I’m like, oh, you’ll know.
The chiropractor: this won’t hurt much (oh god it hurts a lot). In the hospital after surgery, he just rips off the double sticky tape from my groin in one big yank (but he’s got his cell phone up to his ear while he does it, so I feel like I can’t yell out loud, the savage, he trapped me into being silent while he yanked at me. I wince and wrench, and he’s like what? You don’t have big man-hairy legs …) I don’t. But it’s hard to explain. You see I feel things. I feel a lot of things (physically) that you don’t Mister Doctor Man. That you don’t feel them (sir, doctor) doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
I get motion sick. Cars are bad news for me. Unless I’m in the front seat, or the journey is less than 35 minutes. There are no boats in my life. No small tippy ferries. I don’t sit facing backwards on the train. (My sister is much worse, she’s green and heaving as soon as she sees water, a plane, a car ride.) …
Do you see how I’m telling you about me? I’m doing it on purpose. It’s less overwhelming if you watch the movie and see how wacky I am. It’s easier than reading this:
YOU are probably more sensitive than most people.
If I write it like that you think you’re broken, or there’s something wrong with you. When I tell you about me, it seems entertaining because it’s not YOU, it’s THAT OTHER PERSON.
Emotionally sensitive. Oh god, to everything. Feelings easily hurt, weepy at a dog food commercial, cry when happy or sad. Easily offended, irritated, sensitive to criticism. Impatient. But also emotionally intuitive, can tell at a dinner party who’s feeling ignored, who wants to talk more, who wants less attention focussed on them, who’s overwhelmed. I can see that she loves her husband. And that this one over here doesn’t. I’m tuned in. Yes, this can go too far (well, all of these things can, right? Like the number of pillows to sleep, the tightness/smoothness of the bed sheets can extend right into craziness). Being tuned in too much also means that I will read you and put your needs ahead of mine. I scan and continuously try to keep myself under the radar so that you don’t react. I’m familiar and comfortable with watching your face, gauging your mood, to choose the jokes that will fly and those that won’t. To see if you’re in the mood for me or not. I can shape-shift to be the person you want right now…
</end writing extract>