(The following perspective piece may be more representative of a deranged mind than of a model that will actual work – attempt to replicate at your own risk)
A while back there was a discussion here on the Duck about what gives us renewed inspiration for our art, about the sorts of activities that recharges our batteries, infuses our brains with new ideas, new directions… Like many others, I mentioned that going for a walk will often do it. A leisurely stroll can get my mind to swimming, stir up the riff-raff, and maybe make a few good ideas float to the top. It works, certainly, but (for me, your mileage certainly may vary) what works even better is turning that walk into a power hike.
What is a power hike? Well, it can vary, depending on your fitness level and sense of adventure, but for my husband and me, it means an 8-15 mile trek through wilderness, on pathways that take you up and down hills, through rock formations, where you may have to climb a 30-foot cliff to continue on. Where there’s an element of fear, hoping you haven’t miscalculated your course and won’t still be in the woods come darkness (and your mobile is out of range and useless). Where, after hours of walking, you have to make yourself quit looking for the endpoint around the next bend, and instead enter a Zen-like state where you only focus on the next step. Where you’re a few pounds lighter (from sweating) even though you’ve drank enough water (never scrimp on the water) to kill a horse. Where you literally ache when you’re done…
What’s inspiring about this, you may ask? Maybe it seems more like self-torture! Still, there’s just something different, a raw feeling of triumph, about overcoming physical adversity! It hits us deep down, where the reptile, the Id, the beast, still lives! It’s an age-old truism, a deep satisfaction that has no comparison! But for me something else happens…
While under the physical stress of a power hike, my mind sort of splits; compartmentalizes! And this new part starts dreaming, imagining things at a kaleidoscopic pace! Maybe this is indicative of how messed up my brain might be, or maybe it’s a more common phenomenon than I realize! The main (sane?) part of my brain continues to pay attention to my steps and surroundings, while this new section becomes an idea factory. Novel thoughts, new characters, and plot structures wash over me! One after another – long story chains! I’ve created entire novels and movies in my head in a single hike, in vivid detail. How I wish I had some sort of recording device that could read my thoughts, because once I’m home and rested, without fail, I cannot remember all the epiphanies I’ve had, or even most of them… When I sit down and try to salvage as much as I can, just like Samuel Coleridge, that mental ‘in-the-zone’ state has left me. I’m often left with fleeting wisps of stories… I can still feel them, sense them, how beautiful they were, but the details are gone!
But not always! Sometime, magically, they stick! I created the entire plot for my story, The Godstrain, during an eight-hour hike along the Appalachian Trail four years ago, and I still remember it all vividly. I haven’t deviated from it (same for small details) since starting. Some time back I accomplished the same thing with a written novel, resulting in 900 typed pages. I’ve attempted to get the novel published (without much success so far) but now I’m strongly considering converting it to a visual novel once my web comic is complete (honestly, as much as I love writing and drawing, I haven’t pushed myself near hard enough to get recognized for it, and that’s totally on me… but it’s never too late to do differently)
I’ve often wondered about this phenomenon! What causes it? Is it just a rush of adrenaline, endorphins, and other hormones that does it? Is it a safer (well that’s debatable) way to awaken the muse, not unlike Coleridge’s opium addiction? Who knows? Who cares?! All I know is I’m ready to go on a power hike again! And if I’m not alone; if anyone else has experienced a stressed-induced wellspring like this, please tell me! Madness loves company!!
A giant thank you to KimLuster for writing another guest post that puts my regular ones to shame! Be sure to check out her awesome comic The Godstrain!
This newspost is the second in a series of three guest posts that I'm putting up while I'm busy with the last of my coursework. Tune in next Friday when our final guest contributor will be the ever fascinating Ironscarf!
Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see here? Do you have original art for our newspost image database? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at)gmail.com, or leave a comment below!
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HippieVan at 12:00AM, April 10, 2015
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