Yesterday, INTERN was half-intrigued and half-horrified to learn about exhaustion hunting (also known as persistence hunting)—a style of hunting in which the hunter runs after her prey until it literally drops dead (or near-dead) of exhaustion, at which point, a festive barbecue ensues.
It turns out humans are the only creatures on earth who are capable of exhaustion hunting another animal. We can't run the fastest or gnash our fangs the fearsomest, but damn—can we ever hang in there.
Exhaustion hunters rely on their tracking skills to chase an animal over long distances without losing it. Whenever the animal stops in the shade to rest, the exhaustion hunter startles it into running again, until the animal is so weak and delusional it cuddles up to a thornbush and goes to sleep. From there, it's only a matter of carrying the animal's carcass back to your village in a victorious parade.
Writers are exhaustion hunters. INTERN can't think of that many other professions that cause people to ceaselessly pursue the faint or even invisible tracks of something as elusive as a story. And not just pursue it, but pursue it to the point of utter physical, emotional, and spiritual collapse.
Sometimes it feels like every writer INTERN has met over the course of writing this blog has an exhaustion-hunting story. The friend who waited months and months before finally hearing back from That Agent. The one who re-wrote his entire book three times. The one who has three jobs and a baby and still finished her novel. There are so many people out there with Serious Jobs and Serious Families and Serious Health Conditions and all sorts of other stuff going on and they still get it done. And not just get it done, but get it done in the hottest part of the day, in the middle of the desert, with nothing but thornbushes for miles around.
INTERN's big question today is: How the #%@$ do you do it? No really—how do you, personally, do it? What's your trick? INTERN has heard that long-distance runners (and presumably, exhaustion hunters) get something called "runner's high," a trancelike state of euphoria that occurs after one has been running for long enough. Is there such a thing as "writer's high"? Has it happened to you? Did you bag that spotted WIPalump in the end?