Saturday, September 06, 2008

What Gets You Pumped?

I don't know about everyone else, but I've been so busy this past week and a half I've barely had time to think. And much as I know the people who love me will worry about me doing too much, I'm pumped and exhausted at the same time. It reminds me of college.

I think college, for me, was an experiment in what a young body completely addicted to knowledge can do. I didn't just get satisfaction from all night cram sessions. I got an adrenaline rush every time I conquered the need for sleep, overcame constraints, and strolled into a 4 hour test with absolute confidence. I was hooked on pushing my brain the the limits. It was a high... an actual high.

I'm actually not sure, at this time of my life, if this was a good or bad thing. I've never really shaken that addiction. And it's possible it has hurt me in my career as a fiction writer, which is the only thing I have tackled in this life without-- so far-- success. I've published some short fiction and similar, but the Great American Novel eludes me still. My young adult novel does not suffer from neglect but I am, I believe, an overbearing parent with ridiculous expectations. And I research every tiny detail to the point of obsession.

I'll be honest... the high is still there. Like this past week, in a somewhat related foray into local and national politics, when I wrote a few quips that spread through the headquarters like wildfire and were picked up by everyone around me. MY words. It was heady and addictive and I felt smart, valued, validated.

I feel that rush when I write something, read it back, and get the giddy sense of resonance. When the words on the page feel so incredibly right my hair stands up. I get a similar feeling when I sketch or paint something... or create a graphic from nothing... or take a photograph that makes me pause for breath. I don't need drugs or alcohol. I've got journals and a computer.

So on this hurricane-heavy Saturday I submit to you: what's your natural high?


  1. Definitely when I write something worth reading over and over again. It doesn't happen often, but when it does: WOW.

  2. My natural high is writing something that I know is freaking fantastic. It's buying/making the perfect gift for someone. It's reading a great book in one sitting. It's mastering a new skill.

  3. When one of my kids do something that that shows they have healthy self-esteem, I get a rush.

  4. I agree--creative endeavors give me a natural high. Writing something that I know is spot-on good. Taking that photographic shot that gives me goosebumps.

    I also love finding drool-worthy shoes on a fantastic sale. LOL

  5. I like Gwen's answer too, by the way. Having your kids do something healthy or good for them because THEY choose is makes me feel fantastic, too.

  6. My high is when I pick up something I wrote ages ago and think 'wow! did I write that?' because I actually think it's good and I like it.

  7. I also love it when I write something particularly clever. Or, beautiful. I once wrote a poem which was just perfect to me on the first go. It just came out of my real feelings. Sadly, that poem is lost in the universe now, but I think it's my favorite that I've ever written.

    I get excited also by brainstorming ideas with friends. There's this natural energy exchange where their excitement fuels my excitement and we're all one great big burst of creative energy.

  8. I'm a lot like you, Chrissy. I LOVED the chase for knowledge in College, and it definitely got me high. Now, aside from my children (who keep me fairly buzzed most of the time!), I have to say losing myself in my writing. When I hit that Flow that lets me tune everything else out and truly live the scene that I'm writing. That point where I can almost see the setting around me. And then carry that around for a couple of days. Ah...yes!