Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Goodbye to Hard Work

I’m suffering a bit of too-many-thoughts paralysis lately — I want to write about everything, and so write about nothing!

But I’m a little excited about this one.

A Facebook friend linked to an article that many friends in the gifted community were annoyed with.

The title of the article pits giftedness against hard work, as if you only get one or the other. Those of us who have already endured 12 years of school hearing that nothing we do counts because “it’s so easy for you” find that tired argument difficult to sit through again.

An old grad school friend — now also a coworker with my husband — made me laugh when he commented on the article by observing that he has spent most of his life avoiding hard work, and it’s going pretty well so far.

(Of course this is not exactly true — this friend has succeeded at several different things since grad school.)

I realized, I may be in danger of passing on to my kids this obsession with “hard work” and being a “hard worker.” I follow the New Parenting Rules and praise them for effort and process rather than quality of product. My daughter wants me to read her NaNoWriMo novel and I say, “Wow, I am so proud of how much time you have put into this.” Is that what you’d want someone to say when they read your first draft of a novel?!

So phooey on that. I’m not going to teach my children to value their efforts by drops of sweat or sleepless nights.

I’m making some substitutions in my vocabulary, at least for myself:

“Hard Work” is now “Passion” or maybe even “Joy”

“Effort” is now “Faithfulness”

“Persistence” is now “Love”

This is where, I think, we’ve been going on our homeschool journey, though we didn’t know it when we embarked. The blessing of falling into homeschool for us is not that the girls “work to their potential” or get “challenged,” though sometimes those things happen. The blessing is that we are all learning and actively looking to give ourselves wholeheartedly to what we are doing.

This allows us to sidestep worries about the dire fates that apparently await many “prodigies,” and the “harsh truths” about the perils of giftedness. Much of the mainstream chatter about gifted kids — apart from the utterly contradictory advice — seems to focus on whether kids are working too hard (“pushy parents,” “unrealistic expectations”) or not hard enough (“underachievers,” “everything comes easy,” “don’t earn their successes”).

We’re exiting that conversation now.

How hard are my kids working? How hard am I working? Who cares?

Are we living and working with joy and passion? Do we love what we’re doing enough to carry on through the inevitable doldrums and frustrations?

I hope so. Whether it’s a massive Thanksgiving meal or a child-size NaNoWriMo goal, I hope that we are giving our whole selves out of joy — the joy of serving, performing, creating, feeling. If we are not — if we are only jumping through hoops, acting out of a sense of obligation, checking off the to-do list, or trying to impress — I hope we will learn to recognize that and correct it as best we can.


Filed under Gifted Ed, Gifted Heart and Soul, I'm Catholic Why?, Our Domestic Church, Our Philosophy (such as it is)

Old Lady Blues

I am sitting in a cafe called Spyhouse, a very hipster-ish place in Minneapolis not far from where Violet has her rehearsal tonight. Hipster cues: young people in pajama pants, a Nehi clock, a wall with weird implements taped to it (e.g. bubble wand, assorted hooks, a little green army guy), matches at the cash register for the people who go out front and smoke. Also, register girl who talks to you like you’re an idiot for ordering something on the menu because “we’ve haven’t had that for a long time.” Take it off the menu, maybe?

It is loud! At least I am enjoying the music — one of Johnny Cash’s later albums of covers: “One,” “Solitary Man, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” etc.

But I am not getting anything done! I had thought to work on my “novel,” but I can’t do it while I balance my laptop on my legs and wonder what I’ll do with my computer while I go to the bathroom (though at this point I’d love to replace this ancient laptop). Should I ask the guys who look to be playing quarters? Can you play that with coffee?

I am not sure whether I’ll come back next week or not. At least if I whip out my knitting I’ll be doing something vaguely hip, right?

Sigh . . .

ETA: in my time surfing here, I discovered a new blog via my friend Rex Parker: The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. If you have ever made a pasttime of collecting bad punctuation, this is for you. Very funny . . . if you are word nerd.


Filed under Does This Look Funny?, Oh Mother, Schoolday Doings

I’m Doing It — NaNoWriMo

Really I’m doing it on a whim. Plus, I like that NaNoWriMo looks vaguely like Nanaimo bar, which is a Canadian sweet.

NaNoWriMo means National Novel Writing Month, and if you sign up and write 50,000 words during the month of November, you are a winner.

My goal for 2007 was actually to write a bad short story, but I guess I might as well go all out and write a bad novel instead. I actually have a plot idea (it’s a secret! because I’m embarrassed! not because I think you’ll steal it!), and it feels like it might turn out to be a young adult novel. I don’t know. I’m just getting it over with.

So, my writing friends and past NaNoWriMo’ers out there, you can sign up and be my writing buddy if you like. I doubt I’ll have time for any write-ins or meet-ups, or whatever. Wouldn’t it be better to be at home, writing?

I tell myself this is a homeschool thing, too. First of all, my daughter is farther along on her first novel than I am. (Not that I really have ambitions as a novelist, I guess.) My spending time on this is a great education for my kids about lifelong learning and trying new things.

What I love about homeschool is that, for us anyway, it really seems to prod parents to recommit to lifelong learning for themselves. Of course I am always learning new things as a part of my work, but I’m learning Chinese and guitar, I’m knitting much more, and now this novel thing. I’m sure one needn’t homeschool to do that, but it seems to have had an effect on us all the same.


Filed under Oh Mother, Our Philosophy (such as it is), Why Homeschool?