There's a scene that I keep thinking of in the movie Blast From the Past. Blast From the Blast was a very mediocre popcorn movie from 1999, which I watched when I was going through a phase of having to watch every movie Brendan Fraser ever made. It was cute but ridiculous, and it wasn't exactly a cinematic masterpiece. He IS a good actor, but you have to watch Gods and Monsters, School Ties, or With Honors to see it. But I digress.
In the movie, Brendan Fraser is born, and grows up in, a nuclear fall-out shelter, cut off from the rest of civilization until he's 35. There's a scene where his father is trying to explain baseball to him, and his character doesn't understand why the person up to bat runs to first base after he hits the ball. He keeps asking why, and his father keeps saying, “Because he must!” Later in the movie, after he's joined the rest of the world and is able to see a live baseball game for the first time, it clicks. He finally gets it, and he excited yells out, “Oh! Because he Must!”
That is how I feel about writing. I write because I must. It's not even something that I chose for myself. It chose me. For better or worse, there has always been something intrinsic in me that needs to create things out of words.
This is November, which means that I've been working on a novel for NaNoWriMo for the past three weeks. Which also means that the past 20 days have been exhausting. Fall on the floor, body aching, weary-boned exhausting. I have four kids to take care of, a Mike, a house, and 12 pets. I don't have extra time time to write a novel in 30 days, so I have to make the extra time. And I do it simply because I must. I don't always want to, but I have to.
One of the greatest things about homeschooling, and unschooling in particular, is that my kids have the opportunity to follow their passions right now. They don't have to squeeze them in in between school and homework and activities. By design, their lives allow them to do whatever it is that they're passionate about, whatever it is that they must do, almost anytime that inspiration strikes. I remember sitting in school as a kid, hiding behind my book, jotting down an idea for a short story, or a few lines of a poem, or at one point even song lyrics. I remember the frustration of having to sneak it, and the desperation of the time constraint, of trying to get it down I paper before 1) I got reprimanded, or 2) I had to go to my next class. I remember carrying ideas around for days, never getting the chance to translate them onto a page. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to create something different for my kids, to be able to allow them the freedom to not only find what it is that they're passionate about, but to follow it. Right now.
An interesting thing that I've begun to notice is that the more I support them in their endeavors, the more they support me in mine. A few days ago, when I was discouraged, plagued with writer's block, and frustrated by my out-of-control house it was Spencer who said, “Don't quit. Finish your book....” Not because he particularly cares one way or the other whether or not I finish it, but because he knows it's important to ME. He knows I need to do it. As a mom, it's always a delicate balancing act to make time for your own pursuits while still putting the kids' needs first. And they do still come first, no question about it. Which is why a one month writing spree is perfect for our family... For just thirty days I stay up too late, drink too much coffee, and enter the hazycrazywonderful fog that comes with being immersed in my own little made up world, populated by my own little made up characters.
And then November ends. I've fulfilled that need, we all celebrate, and then we move on to December. If November is about writing, which is in effect about me, December is the exact opposite. December is not about me. December is about the kids. December is about giving. December is about hanging the advent calendar with the 25 different activities leading up to Christmas. December is about creating wonderful memories as a family, and December is about celebrating the birth of Christ.
Every bit as vital as the part of me that was meant to write a novel this month, is the part of me that was meant to create a magical holiday experience next month. I look forward to December so much.
So in ten days, I will (God-willing) have the 50,000 words I need to happily put my novel to rest, set it aside until after the new year, and focus 100% of my undivided attention on the kids, on Christmas, and on celebrating.
Because I must.