"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Because I Must

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.


Ainsley said...

Made me think of this, from Emerson's "The Poet":

Art is the path of the creator to his work. The paths, or methods, are ideal and eternal, though few men ever see them, not the artist himself for years, or for a lifetime, unless he come into the conditions. The painter, the sculptor, the composer, the epic rhapsodist, the orator, all partake one desire, namely, to express themselves symmetrically and abundantly, not dwarfishly and fragmentarily. They found or put themselves in certain conditions, as, the painter and sculptor before some impressive human figures; the orator, into the assembly of the people; and the others, in such scenes as each has found exciting to his intellect; and each presently feels the new desire. He hears a voice, he sees a beckoning. Then he is apprised, with wonder, what herds of daemons hem him in. He can no more rest; he says, with the old painter, "By God, it is in me, and must go forth of me." He pursues a beauty, half seen, which flies before him. The poet pours out verses in every solitude. Most of the things he says are conventional, no doubt; but by and by he says something which is original and beautiful. That charms him. He would say nothing else but such things. In our way of talking, we say, 'That is yours, this is mine;' but the poet knows well that it is not his; that it is as strange and beautiful to him as to you; he would fain hear the like eloquence at length. Once having tasted this immortal ichor, he cannot have enough of it, and, as an admirable creative power exists in these intellections, it is of the last importance that these things get spoken. What a little of all we know is said! What drops of all the sea of our science are baled up! and by what accident it is that these are exposed, when so many secrets sleep in nature! Hence the necessity of speech and song; hence these throbs and heart-beatings in the orator, at the door of the assembly, to the end, namely, that thought may be ejaculated as Logos, or Word.

Jessica said...

When you first said Blast From the Past, I SO saw this going in a homeschool/socialization direction! Lol!

Good luck on your book and your balancing act of everything else. :)


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