homeschooling

NaNoWriMo 2014: Days 1 to 3

Current word count: 2, 587 words out of 50,000.

So far, I’m still just trying to get a feel for who my main character is. I sometimes find that when I’m story writing, the characters want to be something other than what I planned to begin with. I’ve also found that my story is heading more in the direction of supernatural horror than I’d planned. The funny thing is that I don’t like horror films, nor do I consider myself a horror reader. So I find it an interesting exercise that often my own writing leans in the direction of a little bit scary and very supernatural in its style.

My story is, at this stage, set in a place that looks and feels like Australia, but in a context where most of the human species has been obliterated by a mysterious disease. My main character has a name I borrowed from the Estonian language.

It’s not always easy to get as into Nanowrimo as I’d like. Real life insists on continuing. We had Hallowe’en the night before. Hallowe’en isn’t particularly significant nor popular in Australia. Also, in the southern hemisphere the date lines up with the pagan spring festival Beltane, not the autumnal harvest of Samhain. The pumpkin imagery doesn’t suit here – it would make more sense to have an Aussie pumpkin festival in May.

Despite the irrelevance of the Hallowe’en festival to the average Australian, there is a small cohort of trick-or-treaters out on Hallowe’en night in the Melbourne suburbs. We had a total of six children. That’s more than in our previous suburb. The debates rage, too, as to whether or not Aussies ought to participate in the festival but a few years back I decided I’d just go with the angle that it’s a good chance to bring a little bit of light and joy and chocolate to the local neighbourhood kids. So we put out a “trick or treaters welcome” sign and decorated the front porch with ghost tinsel and some miniature out-of-season pumpkins decorated by one of my kids.

On Saturday, Day One of Nanowrimo, I managed to get some much-needed alone time. I have homeschooled the kids this year* and it’s hard for me to get alone time. But they had their weekly athletics meet and so The Husband took them to that. When they got home we got out their NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program workbooks. They are working on their own stories. Child #1 is aiming for 15,000 words in his Minecraft fan fiction, Child #2 8,500 words in a fairy tale. Getting them working on their own stories is helping me get some space to write, and they seem to be enjoying the writing process.

Sunday, Day Two, we took a road trip to Gippsland in south-east Victoria to visit the family. I took my nano workbook but, as often happens, I simply didn’t have time to write. But it is energising for me to get out into rural Australia. I lived in the Gippsland region for almost 25 years. As lovely as Melbourne is, it just doesn’t measure up to my experiences living in the bush.

Sunday, Day Three, Monday – for some Melbournians this is a long weekend. The first Tuesday in November is the Melbourne Cup horse race and in our state it is a public holiday. So a lot of people take the Monday off work, and get a four-day weekend. We took the time to head into the city for super nice super expensive coffee. What can I say? We’re Gen Y hipster Melbournians in our skinny jeans and The Husband with his beard and we like our gourmet soy cappuccinos.

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*I will eventually try to write a little summary of our homeschooling experience. What worked, what didn’t work, why we decided to take the kids out of Christian school to homeschool, and why we decided to enrol the kids in public schools for next year and onwards. I will say this, though: our reasons were not religious (if anything, I’m trying to reduce the influence of the religious subcultures on them), not political, not because we adopted homeschooling as our identity. I’m very conscious that homeschooling for a lot of people is a difficult, negative, abusive, controlling environment designed to restrict a child’s development and refuse them the opportunity to explore their own beliefs and perspectives, and that it can be a very fearful system that assumes that “the world” out there is somehow evil. So I hope at some point to maybe share a little of our motivations, experience, and why despite our specific and temporary circumstances we are still very much supporters of the mainstream schooling system, and why I believe it’s very important for people who were abused in homeschooling and religious cults to have the freedom to share their personal experiences.

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1 Nov, 2014. The Nanowrimo workbooks for the Young Writers Program.

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South Gippsland. 2 Nov, 2014.

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Sunset. 3 Nov 2014.

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Blimp over Melbourne. 3 Nov 2014.