At just a stroke before midnight on June 24th, I wrote the last line of my sixth novel: “Well, shit.” As soon as my fingers made the last keystroke, I had a surge of endorphins and adrenaline that would rival the levels produced by jumping from an airplane. Suddenly, I wasn’t tired – I wanted to sing (a bad idea because Dan was sleeping) and dance (an even worse idea…I should never dance). This happy feeling lasts about a day – sometimes two. Then I kick myself in the rear and get busy revising.
As a writer, that shot of natural chemicals is my addiction. Unlike a lot of writers, I get my greatest high from ending the first draft of a novel – from knowing that, despite the editing and revising work ahead, I have told the story I was meant to tell.
The brain rewards behaviors it wants to see repeated. My brain probably chooses to reward finishing because for much of my life I didn’t finish anything. I have scads of half-written novels, half-finished craft projects, and half-baked ideas. If I had never finished The Thief of Todays and Tomorrows, I would never have known about the natural high my brain was prepared to give me. Now that I do, my focus on finishing a novel is almost obsessive.
Okay. It IS obsessive.
Because writing is when I feel most alive.