Skip to main content

Chasing a High

This weekend, I finished writing the first draft of another book, "Born Loser."  It's a good feeling.  I wrote a brief post around this same time last year when I finished my first draft of "I Need a Job" about the same topic.

I barely touched on it, but I think that post was a pretty good summary of the feeling.  When I'm sitting at a desk and writing, every cell of my body feels alive and replenished.  Every beat of my heart tells me that I'm doing exactly what I was put on this Earth to do.  There's nowhere else I should be and nothing else that matters.  I am purpose fulfilled.

When I finish writing a novel, it doesn't matter how many flaws are in it because I have something that justifies my existence.  I am irrepressibly joyous and I want to rub it in everyone's face for as long as the feeling lasts.

There's just one problem, though....

My output has exploded since around the end of 2012 / beginning of 2013.  I'm not sure what set it off, but I'm enjoying the ride right now, anyway.  But because I'm writing so much now, the window of time that my post-novel high lasts after each book is shrinking.

The first time I finished writing a novel was maybe fifteen or so years ago.  I remember that I milked pride out of that accomplishment well on into college.  While in college, I wrote another three novels.  I coasted on that euphoria well on into my failed teaching career.  (I think that coasting is also what gave me the unearned sense of superiority that convinced me to focus exclusively on screenwriting for half a decade while expecting at any minute that Harvey Weinstein was going to sign me up for a six-movie contract or something, but that's an embarrassing story for another day.)

The point is that I'm not coasting as long as I used to.  The last time I finished writing a novel before "I Need a Job," which was probably when I was 23 or so, I only felt the high for about a week before I crashed.  When I filmed "Creepcake" (which is not even remotely close to something that I'm good at), I had my writer's high for about 36 hours - almost exactly as long as it took to make the movie.  "I Need a Job" and "Co-Pay" each only gave me about a day's worth.

I'm writing this less than a day after finishing "Born Loser" and the high's already worn off.  What a gyp.

On the plus side, I'm not crashing so hard, either.  After I wrote "Norton Is Thinking" back in college, I went on a mad, gleeful rush to send off sample chapters and query letters to every agent whose name and address I could find.  After a few months of failing to become the greatest, best-selling author in history, I was so devastated I practically locked myself into my bedroom and became a morbid, depressed hermit.  But today?

Eh.  Whatever.  I'll revise "Born Loser" in a few months and put it out on the market.  Maybe I'll make some diaper money.  Maybe I'll gain a fan.  Life goes on, anyway.

Part of me is a bit sad to lose the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum.  Another part of me wonders if that's an aspect of maturing as a writer.  If that's the case, is it worth it?  Is it better to be stable and hardworking, or is it better to chase a high?