Friday, August 31, 2012

Two Crazy Goals

It's 18 minutes past 12am, but the novel is finished at 60,126 words. And I finished reading The Manhattan Project at 11:17pm.

The novel has been verified as being over 50,000 words, so I've won another Camp NaNoWriMo— my 9th win of 9 participations in OLL events.

With the end of the novel and the end of The Manhattan Project marks the end of the time I spend working beyond 'lights out.'

I can't wait for tomorrow night. The light is going to shut off and I am going to  sleep without worrying about whether or not I'm letting myself down.

But now there is a question. Why would I spend so much time on something that has no tangible reward? On writing a book that didn't have to be finished today (once you hit the 50,000 words, you don't have to worry about whether or not the novel is finished, according to the OLL guidelines), or on reading a book whose criteria for selection was 'an orange cover.'

The reason for reading the book is a 'Rainbow Challenge' issued by my reading group. The 'orange' book must be read in August. Not completing the orange book means that you've lost the Rainbow Challenge, which ends on December 31st. I couldn't let that happen.

But as in the beginning of the month I was working every spare moment at the camp presentation, and secondly, the NaNoWriMo novel, I wasn't interested in reading. Not at camp, not on the plane… it was when I reached London that I realized I needed to get to work.

As for the novel, I had 41,051 words when I reached London. I needed 8,949 words to win Aug NaNo '12. But in order to finish the story, I realized that I needed 60,000 words.

From past experience, I've noted that if I don't finish a novel within the contest time limits, it's exponentially harder to continue it afterward. That incredible drive to finish before the deadline no longer exists, especially in November. So I pushed myself to reach 'The End' tonight.

It meant writing 18,949 words in three days. It meant reading a 448 page book in three days. It meant squeezing in at least 6 hours of work and 7 hours of reading into three days of incredibly busy sightseeing.

In the past three days, we've seen the British Library, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, and various bus and underground stations. Sightseeing has taken up every 'daylight hour' of the past three days. Is it any wonder I've had to stay up late in order to complete the goals I set for myself on August 1st?

Yes, it's crazy. There is no earthly reason why I should spend precious sleep hours reading about the creation of the atomic bomb, or writing a convoluted story about messed up people who don't exist anywhere but in my head.

But I like to think that beyond being crazy, this is real-world practice. This is an exercise in self-discipline, one of the hardest things a human being can master.

By pushing myself to finish two goals that are inconsequential to the rest of the world, two goals which in the past three days I've been questioning the sanity of, I'm going to be training myself for the real-world problems that will arise in anything I choose to do. Whenever I feel like giving up, this is the dialogue that will play in my head: "I really wanted this some time ago. Now, when the going is hard, I don't seem to want it so much. But I know that if I give up now, I will not be able to live the disappointment of giving up on myself."

That is why I have persisted in finishing Incense and The Manhattan Project. That is why I haven't gone to bed before midnight for the past three days. That is why I've been ignoring the obvious signs that my entire family thinks I'm nuts.

Because at some point in my life, all this determination to complete the goal is going to pay off.

Note: I realize that this world is about 190 words longer than it should be. As none of it is filler, I feel it is alright.

2nd Note: The book is The Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of Its Creators, Eyewitnesses, and Historians, edited by Cynthia C. Kelly, President of the Atomic Heritage Foundation

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