I assume that anyone reading this, has at some point, had a need to write. A burning sensation in your gut or brain or heart telling you to write down your thoughts or feelings or ideas. These early days of this desire are exciting, and the ideas flow out for better or worse. In the beginning it’s easy, and the euphoria that is felt cannot be explained to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. You are quite literally writing on a high and an addiction sets in. I think Susan Orlean said it best;
Writing gives me great feelings of pleasure. There’s a marvelous sense of mastery that comes with writing a sentence that sounds exactly as you want it to. It’s like trying to write a song, making tiny tweaks, reading it out loud, shifting things to make it sound a certain way. It’s very physical. I get antsy. I jiggle my feet a lot, get up a lot, tap my fingers on the keyboard, check my e-mail. Sometimes it feels like digging out of a hole, but sometimes it feels like flying. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me.
I think we have all at some point felt this exact way, regardless of our own individual abilities. Eventually, however, this euphoria wears off and something wholly different kicks in. Stress. The stress of the next great line, the stress of getting that euphoric feeling back. If we are honest with ourselves, we are not only writing for ourselves. Of course, that is how it starts, you have a hole somewhere, your head, your heart, your soul, whatever you want to call it, and it needs to be filled and you fill it with words. You tell yourself those words are the only thing that can fill these gaps. At some point though you get brave you get cocky, you realize these words, in this order, right here, right now are perfect and someone else MUST see this. They love it, or least they say they do, and that’s it, that’s all you needed. This confirmation, whether true or false, doesn’t matter. Sure, you acted humble, but your arousal is infinite. Beneath that arousal though there is something creeping up, digging into that hole. If you put it into words it would be, “I can’t wait to do that again, OH SHIT, I HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN!” This is when you realize that, writing, good writing is hard. Being creative, creating something that you love and that others will love is the most rewarding and terrifying and stressful thing a writer must contend with. Luckily, for most writers, their arrogance and their bloody kneed, dick sucking, addiction to the euphoria and recognition keeps them moving toward that next great line. However, we should all probably take Kurt Vonnegut’s advice;
“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
However, I think Zadie Smith is probably more on point;
“Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.”
The euphoria will never feel the same. The critics will never love you the same way as the first one. The stress will be debilitating at times. We will hate everything we write. We will never be satisfied. But we will keep coming back to it, because we love it, all of it, the recognition, the adoration, the high, but ultimately, we need to fill up what is missing and only the next line can do that.