Monday, December 08, 2008

Memento Mori

I woke up at about 1:45 today. 1:45am - right smack in the middle of the night.

Earlier today I was helping out at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon as a volunteer part of my Impresario committee's effort to canvass some extra funds for our project.

The Drinks Station

I was posted at one of the drinks stations and this is how it all looks like after the runners were through with us. (:

We were there at City Hall right from 12:30am last night, all the way till about 12:30pm on December 7th, and as a result of that, my internal body clock is majorly messed up right now.

Waking up in the middle of the night is weirdly disorienting. I'm pretty used to sleeping and waking up in the day, but waking up when it's all dark, silent and cold around you is weirdly disquieting.

I was lying in bed, and I just felt this chilling emptiness inside me calling out to me, and I wondered - what is my great purpose in life?

Or does it make sense to have any at all?

It's just one of those moments that makes you just pause to ponder and reflect, and I realized that there are somethings that I really want to do before my lease on this mortal vessel I call my body is up.

Here's a few of the things I thought about:

1. Write a published Novel
I've been talking about this for some time right now and I'm kind of disappointed in myself for not putting in much effort at all into planning and writing my novel and so I did a Google search for "how to write a novel" earlier tonight and I did manage to get some good pointers on the step-by-step guide to the process of writing a novel.

One article that I found particularly useful was the "Snowflake Method" and I decided to do step 1 of the method which is to write an overarching one sentence summary of my novel.
Step 1) Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. Something like this: "A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul." (This is the summary for my first novel, Transgression.) The sentence will serve you forever as a ten-second selling tool. This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture.

When you later write your book proposal, this sentence should appear very early in the proposal. It's the hook that will sell your book to your editor, to your committee, to the sales force, to bookstore owners, and ultimately to readers. So make the best one you can!

Some hints on what makes a good sentence:

  • Shorter is better. Try for fewer than 15 words.
  • No character names, please! Better to say "a handicapped trapeze artist" than "Jane Doe".
  • Tie together the big picture and the personal picture. Which character has the most to lose in this story? Now tell me what he or she wants to win.
  • Read the one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list to learn how to do this. Writing a one-sentence description is an art form.
(Read the rest of the "Snowflake Method" here.)

Yeah, so I decided that the one sentence summary for my novel would be - A coming of age story of a boy struggling with meaning, purpose and love in his life.

One of my favourite books is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Reading it somehow changed my life in ways that I would do no justice to describe in words. Who better to write a coming of age novel than one who is currently going through all that the dear protagonist would be going through in the novel? The only issue is that I'm still unsure of how this story will end, but we'll wait and see, won't we?

2. Run a full marathon
Watching the runners push themselves through the marathon today was inspiring. At the drinks stand, we saw people from all walks of life - from the fittest athletes of African origin to the grotesquely obese; from the very young, being pushed around in prams to old, wizened grandparents all pushing themselves to complete the marathon.

And I realized - I don't want to go through life without conquering a challenge like this one.

It's not going to be easy, but the more challenges you overcome in life, the stronger and more confident you become of overcoming the rest. I want to do this simply because it is not easy, and I really need to grow stronger, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually to overcome the challenges ahead. I just have to.

I don't know why, but I feel like I'm floating right now, but not one bit sleepy. Guess this is the time to take a break. Hope you guys out there are great.

Memento mori, least we waste another day.