Inevitably, when I tell someone about NaNoWriMo they get this incredulous look and ask one question.
The goal of writing 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month sounds absurd to many. The prizes for reaching the end are meager, there is no notoriety, and what you write isn’t going to be published. In most cases, what you write will barely even be readable without massive editing. So, why do it?
To that I answer: Why not?
Why not run the Boston Marathon of writing? Why not have a go at the Ironman Triathalon of literature? The El Capitan of Novel National Park awaits. Why not climb it?
Just like any physical endurance, this creative endurance trial pushes your limits and helps you to grow and discover new things about yourself. Accomplishing the monumental task is a reward in itself.
And you’ll always remember the journey.
Those I have spoken with about their experiences in marathons and triathlons always reflect on the journey. Yes, there is a little bit about the actual miles, but the journey they reminisce about are the early morning alarms for runs that started while sun was still below the horizon, the different shoes they tried to keep their feet from blistering, the foods they cut out of their diet to get in shape, the discovery that the wrong shirts can make your nipples bleed. They speak proudly of the scraped knees, the sore ankles, and how they learned to breath through side pain. Then there are the people they met. The people at the starting line who have gone through similar preparations, who are excited to endure and conquer the very same challenge. The people that they met several hours in, who were struggling the same way or maybe even worse, but somehow found the determination to continue.
Then comes “The Wall”. That point where they felt like they had pushed as hard and as far as they could. The point where they were on the edge of failure. Then they pushed some more. They reached down into reserves that they didn’t know they had and forced themselves forward. And they made it to the end. They finished. They conquered.
The trophy? Invisible.
The prize? Immaterial.
The experience? Everything.
So, here I go again, stretching my mental muscles and plotting the route I will take to write a novel in November. Some say it sounds a little crazy. Maybe so, but I prefer to call it a challenge. Some baulk at the idea. Some question why.
I have my answer.
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
– Sir Edmund Hillary