I have completed nine marathons. Each one required months of training, diligence about proper diet, and sometimes even meant traveling across the country. All to run 26.2 miles, then go home.
I used to ask myself during races, usually around mile twenty, why the hell I was doing this to myself. But at the end, I always felt a really good sense of accomplishment, of knowing that I had done something that not everyone can or will do.
That is exactly the purpose behind NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It involves weeks of preparation, a grueling month of dedication to your writing, and then at the end there’s a winner’s certificate that you have to print on your own printer and hang on your wall. There’s a T-shirt, too, which you will have to pay for.
It’s EXACTLY like my marathons. It’s simply there for you to see if you can do it. It stretches your mind and your creativity, it will make you cry around mile twenty–I mean, week three–and at the end you’re going to feel like you just might be a writer after all. The interesting truth about both marathons and NaNo is that I’m not very good at either one. I was a “middle of the pack” finisher during most of my races, and some of my NaNo novels I’ve written are so bad they shouldn’t even be burned because the fumes from that craptastic writing can get in the air and infect other people.
Why go through all of the training and expense to run a marathon? To know that I’m capable. Why suffer through sleepless nights and stolen mornings to squeeze in a few thousand words? To know that I’m capable. And in both cases, for the T-shirt.