I talked before about self-discipline as a general concept. Personally, I think self-discipline the way we perceive it is culturally crippling. That aside, here is how it plays out in my main characters.
PATRICK: age unknown, leader of the Protectors.
He HATES getting up in the morning. If he had an alarm clock with a SNOOZE option, he’d hit it the first time and throw it at the wall the second. For now, it’s up to his roommates to make sure he’s up in time for class.
Homework is the bane of his existence, especially since the birth of his daughter. He’d much rather spend time playing with her than researching the effects of the French Revolution on European philosophy.
When it comes to leading the Protectors, he has a game plan but finds it hard to follow. He wants the new students to train, but he has a hard time enforcing any sort of schedule. He relies heavily on his advisers to keep him focused.
DEVIN: age 14, VHAMA lower freshman, Protector plebe.
She is determined. Not straight-A student, valedictorian kind of determined. Devin is passionate about physical activity, leadership, and human dynamics. She knows how to set a plan in place and follow it. Being a Protector allows Devin to combine all three of those things.
When it comes to training, she’s on time and ready no matter what. She is up at 5 am and is ready to clean horse stalls at 5:30 every morning, rain or snow. Like Patrick, she tends to let her homework slide, but school isn’t what she’s passionate about.
When she sees Patrick slipping, she figures out how to motivate her fellow Protectors. She is able to lead them from his shadow without losing her stride as a trainee. She is so dedicated and consistent, that Patrick and his advisers begin to turn to her on an unofficial basis.
In exploring these characters, I learned something about self-discipline. IF it is something you are passionate about, like Devin and her training, or Patrick and his daughter, it is much easier to be disciplined. These characters aren’t chameleons, they aren’t end-all-be-all gods. If Devin’s History teacher assigned her to knit 12 scarves, she would probably accept an F on the project. If he asked her to create a lesson and teach her fellow students how to knit, she would probably get an A.
Passion is a funny thing that way.