The amount of stuff I feel saturates me sometimes to the point of puking. I want to vomit it all out to be rid of it, or else it will suffocate me. Physically. A hand of anxiety will plant its meaty fingers on my chest and push down until I choke.
I used to ignore this and channel it inward and get sick, in the body and in the mind. I didn't understand where it was coming from. That's what everyone did, especially everyone in Russia. Our lovely cultural upbringing can be summarized thusly: hide it, hide it, hide it. Push it in. I got so good at this, it's difficult to resist the familiar urge.
The best writing happens when the emotions are strongest. It could be one languid thing, like an intense melancholy, for example. Or it could be a bouquet of feelings, anxiety and anticipation and disappointment and guilt and pride and shame all rolled into one. Imagine experiencing this soup for hours, without a break. Wouldn't you go nuts?
That's why writing is so hard. It's exhausting. It's emotionally draining. Whatever chemical processes are happening in your poor tangle of a nervous system get out of control and fire and spout and crackle shit all over the place. Naturally, you try to find a way to cope with it.
If you're lucky and know how to channel it into art, you might produce a piece of wonder. But it takes practice. Feeling is one thing, transcribing it into words is another.
If you're unlucky and don't know how to get rid of it, you risk depression and ultimately suicide. Drugs are here too. And alcohol. Which is really just self-medication. Because the mechanism we used to have in place to put this dreadful cocktail to work is absent. You can get yourself to the color of a ripe beet pumping those poor legs of yours in the gym every day, and still it won't be enough. The emotional release will be missing. You can fuck around like a maniac (some people do that), but it won't tickle your intellectual juices, and you will still crave release.
And then you will wonder what could possibly be wrong with you.
All of us artists wonder that, gazing at vacuous grey countenances of those around us and seeing close to zero emotions in them (not mentioning zero brain). Okay, maybe not zero, but certainly a very small amount. We think, "How can they possibly not feel as much as I do? I must be mental or something." Then we mature (hopefully) and understand that it's our advantage. It's because we feel all this stuff that we can crank out pages and pages of stories that move people. People sense our tribulations, sense our characters' tribulations. They come across as real precisely because while writing we were feeling all that crap to the nth degree.
And that is why intensity is good. Cherish it. Love it. Barf it out on paper. Spew it when it strikes you. I'm typing this while sitting in the car, in the passenger seat, while my boyfriend is driving it. We're going to Costco to buy food—an exchange high school student from Japan is staying with us for two weeks, and we naturally want to wow him with American cuisine. In the past I would've suppressed the urge to type down the thought that popped into my head, the emotion I felt, and it would've been lost. I'm learning to write it out immediately, on the phone, if I have to. The result is—my writing is better when it's hot off the grille.