Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2013, Round 4

Weaving with a Plot Tribble – ROW80 Update, 10/31/13

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Have you ever had a shiny new idea seize you, right on the cusp of a Great Big Project?

Yup, it’s happening to me. I watched the Enterprise episode “Home” with Jim last night. And, whammo!

An enormous, gigantic, frantically fertile plot tribble. It carries back and forward through several scenes, already, and…it knows where the quadrotriticale is!

And it’s just over 24 hours until NaNoWriMo starts, and I begin my crazyquest to draft all of King of Shreds and Patches. So, plot tribbles aside, whatever their size, Trip and T’Pol will have to wait a month for me to give them the space for their stories.

I’m hoping, though, that they will continue sharing their story with me, giving me tidbits here and there…because I love the stories that are left untold…what happened, on the way to Vulcan? What did Trip do, after the wedding? What kind of arrangement do T’Pol and Koss make, now that their family obligation to marry has at last been fulfilled? How are Vulcan marriages different than human ones? Was a tremendous mistake made?

Ah, plot tribbles, all over the place.

I think I’d better make sure I only leave out just enough food to keep them from breeding so fast I get inundated….and, while I do that, here’s my current plateful of progress….

Current Goals Buffet Samplings:

Blogging:

Focus point:

  • Offering a sustainable schedule of features.

Maintain four non-ROW80 posts weekly, throughout the round. On target.

Keep up with comments; or post an explanation. I tend to lose track when I am especially creation-focused. Target attained!

  • Done on Sunday and Wednesday. A tad late, still! =D

Writing:

Focus points:

  • Noveling-in-progress.

  • NaNo Planning.

To Be or Not to Be:

Completerough draft: ~200,000 words totalOctober 31.

  • Chapters Fifty-Four and Fifty-Five: 6,291 new words.

  • WIP total: 199,615/ ~ 200,000 words. Under 1K to go, now, and the end is taking shape!

  • October, to date: 10,273/ ~11,899 words.

  • I am into the second to last chapter of this WIP -well second to last chapter, and then the epilogue. I hope to be done by the time NaNo begins. If not, I will double up until I am.

PlanKing of Shreds and Patches (A Trueborn Warp SeriesStar Trek fan fiction novel);complete Rock Your Plot planning exercise/ scene-by-scene outline. – October 31.

Add GMCD for all connecting scenes.

  • 29/29 scenes complete!

Sketch action for all scenes.

  • 60/60 scenes titled – WAHOO! =D

  • 60/60 scenes complete. A paragraph each for Opening, Middle, and Disaster.

  • Worked out a large, five-scene pileup of a tangle! I am so happy I plotted, so I could lop a few tentacles off that beastie before it turned into a Kracken in the drafting process! =)

Chart vital stats for each scene: (the old whowhatwherewhenwhyhow).

  • 6/60 scenes completed. One tenth done!

Set up scenes in Scrivener.

  • 5/60 scenes set up. One fifteeth done!

Double check all notes and prep for consistency.

  • 5/60 scenes completed. One fifteenth done!

  • Breathe deeply till Friday!

Hometending:

Focus point:

  • Tidying and beautifying my physical, virtual, and interior spaces.

Keep email inbox clear. Check at least twice weekly; sort, file, and delete each time. Target attained!

  • Still good!

Keep Spam folder clear. Check at least twice weekly; sort, file, and delete each time.Target attained!

  • Yup!

Lifetending:

Focus points:

  • Relationships.

  • Exercise and Movement.

  • Passions.

Make time and sweetness for Jim, in ways that are meaningful to us both, and in ways that are important to him. Target attained!

  • Yes. Working through a disagreement, romance (with a candle, yet!), collaboration, and lots of patience. Oh, and Enterprise and Deadliest Catch.

Do the same for the children, individually and together. Target attained!

  • Attended a birthday party, patience, lots of free time; hugs and snuggles and chatting.

Immerse myself in writing, living, and being with my family, striving for presence. On target.

  • I’ve been a bit NaNo-distracted, but have spent time with each of my loves, this session.

Regularly evaluate; adjust as needed. On target.

  • With Halloween, and the imminence of NaNo, and the kids both in growth phases, things have been a little off-kilter. I expect that to shift, once the holiday excitement is past, and my NaNo flow is established.

Practice movement daily, for at least a few minutes. Target attained!

  • A very mellow workout, some hometending, and moving a small stack of firewood.

Add a little more intention to this, and remember to move even when in long nighttime writing sessions, at least occasionally. On target.

  • Better. Moving regularly helps me think.

Work out at least once a week. Target attained!

  • Pleasant half-hour pedaling cardio workout with Eden Mabee. One arm machine.

Get outside for at least a few minutes each day. Target attained!

  • Out and about on Sunday and Tuesday; moved firewood Monday and Wednesday.

Allow time and space to indulge my passions. Target attained!

  • Yup. Time with loved ones; Enterprise with Jim, and that enormous plot tribble to play with. Time outside in the air! Had coffee and biscotti with Eden; rescheduled visit with Elizabeth for a week from Monday.

Complete beta reading by October 20. On target, running very late.

  • Didn’t fix the problem; did contact the writer to touch base.

Tend sponsor duties promptly. Target attained!

Want a proliferation of ROW80 updates?

Want to see Captain Kirk caught in a tribbleanche?!

Posted in Life Writing, Thursday's Treat

Thursday’s (Halloween) Treat: Trip and T’Pol- “Epiphany”

Thursdays can be tricky…well into the week, too far from the weekend…so, as a public service, I’ve reserved this space for a biweekly treat – an interesting tidbit or snippet I’ve picked up around the Internet.

This week’s Thursday’s Treat comes from: HopefulRomantic315, via YouTube.

I discovered Enterprise a few months ago, and a huge part of my love for it stems from the beautifully drawn evolution of the romantic relationship of Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker III, and former Subcommansder T’Pol, reprentsentative of the Vulcan High Command.

Theirs is perhaps an unlikely pairing – or maybe not. Certainly, it’s – pardon the word! -fascinating to watch this interspecies negotiation, this delicate, forward and back dancing as they learn one another and grapple with their attraction and some mighty obstacles.

These clips from their story are set to lovely music that seems to fit T’Pol – her mystery, her intensity, her control, her fierceness, and her confusion.

Enjoy!

I hope this spicily sweet treat brightened up your Halloween Thursday! It certainly did mine!=D

Do you have something to say about this Thursday’s Treat, or an idea for a future post to share? I love comments, so feel free to pop one into that box below!

Posted in Coffee and Conversation, Life Writing

Coffee and Conversation: A NaNoing I Will Go!

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while!

It’s Monday again –  time for Coffee and Conversation.

 When I was six, my family was driving on an interstate highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living their lives, lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to see what those lives were, and to share my own…

Here, each Monday, I strive to reach that understanding through offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and share something of yours.

Here we are, already knocking on the door to the last week of October. It’s a week where many people, including a couple who live in this house, are absorbed in thoughts of costumes and candy, tricks and treats, the spooky and the wild.

I’ve set up a few special posts for this week – I like spreading treats around. But that’s not really where my focus is.

There’s something else on my mind, as October winds its way to completion…

November.

And, for me, November meansNational Novel Writing Month.

My first NaNoWriMo, as it’s affectionately called, was in 2009. My children were 8 and 5 then, and my goal was to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days – without being absent from my family.

I made it – with about 2000 words to spare. I didn’t finish my novel, Blood and Breath, but I had made a good enough beginning to empower me.

It was so exhausting, though, that I took 2010 off.

In 2011, I had no idea whatsoever what to write. I signed up anyway, and, on November 1, I started writing.

38,000 words later, I found the story. I;ve since divided it into two volumes – the YA fantasy, Chameleon’s Dish, and the interwoven Star Trek fan fiction novel, Bounded by a Nutshell.

In 2012, I had two chances to play with NaNo – the traditional November session, and, in August, my very first CampNaNoWriMo. Two more novels begun – Sima Garo Provides and To Be or Not to Be.

Now, we’re into the final week before NaNo 2013. It’s already been a banner year, NaNo-wise – I’ve completed a 50,000 word CampNaNo in April -completing the first drafts of Sima Garo Provides and Blood and Breath. To Be or Not to Be will be finished in the coming days. August brought a new CampNaNo, and I challenged myself to write 100,000 words in a month- 50,000 apiece on two new novels – The Stars are Fire and Perchance to Dream – which are the lynchpins of my interwoven series.

I’ve got a new WIP gestating. King of Shreds and Patches is the companion novel to Sima Garo Provides. I’m planning, essentially, to complete a double NaNo – an entire 100,000 novel draft in 30 days flat. Again, without ignoring the fact that I live with people I love…

I know, that sounds a little (downright!) insane, but there it is.

It doesn’t feel crazy to me. It’s an honest assessment of where I am and where I want to go. I’ve grown and learned every time I explore this challenge, and I come away with far more than a new work in progress.

  • I learn about myself, and what makes me tick.

  • I learn more about blending my passion into my life, weaving a cohesive whole.

  • I learn more about how my mind works, and how to use that to feed my creative impulses.

  • I learn how to recognize inspiration, when to push through, and when to step back and wait quietly.

My first NaNo efforts were unplanned. I had an idea, maybe a few pages of notes- and some scenes snippets that wandered into my mind to play. The good stuff is tangled up inchaos – just what I would expect, when I spent the month discovering the story as I went along.

Gradually, I’ve added more planning. For this year’s Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I decided to write 26 flash fiction pieces that would form the framework for the beginning of my two July CampNaNo novels. That helped me to find the direction forward, before I began.

Toward the end of spring, I read Cathy Yardley’s Rock Your Plot, and used some of what I learned there to plan the beginnings of both novels. I felt more focused and less lost, without sacrificing the creative spontaneity that breathes free will into my characters.

In these last days before I set the first word to my new Scrivener file for King of Shreds and Patches, I am finishing my first extensive planning process.

Yes, the metamorphosis is complete. This spontaneous pantser has become a devoted plotter!

Life and writing can be like that- can toss preconceptions aside, and give new life and ideas. It turns out that planning out the framework of my novel, taking the time to understand my characters and their stories, before I begin, engages more of my creativity, not less.

This will be my most cohesive WIP -already, I know that. It has a flow from scene to scene that carries it forward, and the story has evolved as I move through my development. I won’t need to wait, this time, for the story to catch the spark of life and inspiration – it’s already there, alive, growing, becoming….as I am.

And that’s maybe why challenges like NaNoWriMo exist – to allow us to grow through play, to become more of who we are, to stretch us, make us strong and agile, to delight us with what we can do.

Do you have a challenge you regularly participate in? Can you see how you’ve grown into it, over time? Is there some challenge you’d like to try, but, so far, haven’t? What’s in your way?

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, Life Writing, Round 4

ROW80 Update– Quiet Weaving

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Often, I write something fun in this space, or share revelations that occur to me during the week. Today, though, I’m just not feeling that talkative- saving myself up for NaNo, I guess.

I’m plotting, and blogging, and writing.

So, instead, I’ll just say I hope everyone here is happy, healthy, and doing many things they love!

And now, my ROW80 progress for this session…

Current Goals Buffet Samplings :

Blogging:

Focus point:

  • Offering a sustainable schedule of features.

Maintain four non-ROW80 posts weekly, throughout the round. Target exceeded!

Keep up with comments; or post an explanation. Target attained!

  • Done on Friday and Sunday. A tad late, but better than forgetting! =D
Cover art inspiration.

Writing:

Focus points:

  • Noveling-in-progress.
  • NaNo Planning

Write or Plan one scene weekly for The Stars are Fire and Perchance to Dream, through October. Target attained!

Perchance to Dream: Target attained!

  • Planned :Adapt Scene #20; Plan Scene #21
  • Written: Scene #20; 2,079 words
  • WIP Total: 72, 464 / ~100,000 words.
  • On hiatus until December, to accommodate NaNo.

The Stars are Fire:Target attained!

  • Adapted/Planned :Scenes #27 and #28
  • Written: Scene #27; 1,666 new words.
  • WIP Total: 66,811 / ~100,000 words.
  • On hiatus until December, to accommodate NaNo.

Plan King of Shreds and Patches; complete Rock Your Plot planning exercise/ scene-by-scene outline. – October 31. On target.

Add quick sketches of connecting scenes. Target attained!

  • 28/28 -All done!

Add GMCD for all connecting scenes. On target.

  • 17/28 scenes complete. Over half done with this step! =D

Give quick title and sketched action for all scenes.On target.

  • 60/60 scenes titled – WAHOO! =D
  • 36/60 scenes complete. A paragraph each for Opening, Middle, and Disaster. Over half of the way to my first-ever fully outlined NaNo novel! =D
  • Working out the tangles as I go.

Chart vital stats for each scene: (the old whowhatwherewhenwhyhow).On target.

  • 2/60 scenes completed.

Set up scenes in Scrivener.On target.

  • 2/60 scenes set up.
  • Double check all notes and prep for consistency.
  • Breathe deeply till Friday!
Feeling a little reflective…

Hometending:

Focus point:

  • Tidying and beautifying my physical, virtual, and interior spaces.

Ponder . Brainstorm, discuss, freewrite, percolate. On target.

  • A natural by-product of NaNo planning; more details in December.

Decorate bulletin board, take down maps (moving to family or living room). On target.

  • Bought new wrapping paper to prettify board, and a staple puller for the maps.

  • Found a new home for our large US map.

Hang ribbon board. On target.

  • Jim found tacks and a hammer.– now to use them!

Keep email inbox clear. Check at least twice weekly; sort, file, and delete each time.Target attained!

  • A little less on top of this. Haven’t used Kindle in a day or two, during NaNo final planning stages.

Keep Spam folder clear. Check at least twice weekly; sort, file, and delete each time.Target attained!

  • See above.

Lifetending:

Focus points:

  • Relationships.
  • Exercise and Movement.
  • Passions.

Make time and sweetness for Jim, in ways that are meaningful to us both, and in ways that are important to him.Target attained!

  • I asked Jim. He said I did. =)

Do the same for the children, individually and together.Target attained!

  • Our first trip to the independent local game store. I bought each child a game or two.
  • Trip to Target.
  • Time at the Y.
  • Playing with pendulums, inverted and otherwise.
  • Walks and a birthday party.
  • Annalise’s Halloween costume ordered.

Immerse myself in writing, living, and being with my family, striving for presence. On target.

  • A banner writing week! Lots of planning for KOSAP, and a scene each for PTD and TSAF. Good times!
  • I was present with these cool people I live with, although a little crankier than I’d like, here and there!

Regularly evaluate; adjust as needed.On target.

  • NaNo hasn’t made me crazy, yet – only slightly sleep-deprived! =)

Practice movement daily, for at least a few minutes.Target attained!

  • Two workouts, a walk, and moderate hometending.

Add a little more intention to this, and remember to move even when in long nighttime writing sessions, at least occasionally. On target.

  • Definitely better this time.

Work out at least once a week. Target attained!

  • A fast and moderate 45 minute workout. 3 minutes on the arc trainer, 2 machines each for arms, legs, and body.

Work out on Thursday, while kids enjoy Prime Time program. Target attained, if abbreviated.

Get outside for at least a few minutes each day.Target attained!

  • Yes! Every day – whether to stand out in a light, almost-snow rain, or to and from the car, or out walking or chatting.

Allow time and space to indulge my passions. Target attained!

  • Yup. Time with loved ones;plotting; blogging. All the new Deadliest Catch episodes on Netflix.Time outside in the air!

Read, comment, and share others’ posts and links.Target attained!

Tend sponsor duties promptly.Target attained!

Why not go ROWer-peeping this fall?

The Stars are Fire-inspired art.
Posted in Life Writing, Saturday's Share...

Saturday’s Share: Formerly Feral Felines

Early spring, 2013. Baby, the tabby, and Squeak, the tortoiseshell, had been with us for a few months.

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

Has a critter ever wandered or crept furtively into your home and your heart, giving up a wild existence to share your life?

Last fall, we decided to welcome two mostly-feral feline sisters, Squeak and Srindi, into our family. They were living on my friend Eden Mabee’s deck with their mother and a third sister – a ticking reproductive time bomb waiting to go off – and our beloved Margot the Manx had died a few weeks before.

Just two weeks before we planned to move them, the children were playing in the leaves in our backyard, which borders a strip of woodland. Annalise came running up to the house to tell me they had found a kitten. I thought it was likely some neighbor’s new pet, but went out to see.

What they had was a tiny scrap of tabby fluff – maybe six weeks old – who could curl comfortably in the palm of my hand. She was shaking, and weighed almost nothing – her ribs were right under her fuzzy baby coat.

I thought she must belong to someone – but, even if she did, the condition she was in made it clear that it wasn’t a fit home. Near-freezing temperatures and icy rain were predicted for that night; we could not leave her out there to take her chances.

The way she acted, once we brought her inside and gave her a dab from a can of food Margot left behind, suggested that she had never been with people, or inside a house, before. We can only marvel at how she survived, and wonder what gave her the courage to walk up to the kids and plop herself in Jeremiah’s lap.

So, instead of two, there were three, for a while.

Squeak spent a couple of months ghosting around underneath things, and Srindi holed up in my office.

Eventually, Squeak became comfortable enough that we could touch her, as she claimed more and more of the more visible areas of our house.

Srindi liked Jeremiah, but never truly took to the rest of us, and, shortly after she discovered Corki’s dog door, she vanished, in the way of country cats. There are coyotes in the woods; I hear their singing many nights. There are hawks and owls – we will never know, most likely, what happened, only that it did…she was a cat in love with food, and we keep the feeding dish full.

And now there are two.

Squeak and Baby are family. For all her independent beginning, and the way she avoided us with tremendous vigor when she first arrived, Squeak has turned out to be almost as affectionate as a dog. She greets me each morning, follows me in the house and yard, and lets me know she missed me when I travel. She climbs on my lap when she wants to snuggle, shoving my computer out of her way. She’s an athlete, with a large, svelte, pantherish frame -her leaping range is phenomenal!

Baby is a wild child. Newly a cat, she is still a kitten inside. She has a deep passion for the bathtub, for reasons we haven’t yet figured out, and, lately, she’s decided that anyone sitting on the toilet wants her sitting on their lap! She’s a born clown. One of her favorite pastimes is tearing through the house at top speed, to crash land on whatever surface finally gets in her way.

They are at home here, and at their ease. It wasn’t instantaneous, and there are still some wrinkles – Squeak tolerates my touch and handling far better than Jim’s or the children’s; Baby plays in attack mode, claws ready to do serious damage. But, in less than a year, they have come to trust us, and want to spend time with us, and that warms me from the inside out, like a purring, furry body curled up next to me.

Do you have a stray-pet story to share? A photo? I love animals, and would love to know about your non-human family members. After all, Saturdays are for sharing! =D

And, this week, let’s finish with a Soft Kitty Treat!

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2013, Life Writing, Round 4

Weaving, Weaving, Weaving: ROW80 Update, 10/23/13

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I’ve spent the last days immersed in writing worlds. So much is developing,and I have ideas that I want to share…and yet, I find that I don’t have much to say here.

That tends to happen, when I get lost in the lovely chaos of creation. Ah, well. The lull will come, in time, I’ll be less wrapped up in my own fantasies.

So, instead of chatter, I’ll just share my sponsor post, where I wrote about weaving a writing life – even when you aren’t writing. As I won’t be, for some time today – there’s considerable hometending to deal with, after Jim’s weekend, and a Halloween costume to be ordered, and an overcast prevening to go out for a bit and play in.

Here’s a little excerpt from that post.

Writing isn’t a separate part of my life. Like being a wife and a mother, like unschooling and hometending, it is woven into the pattern of everything I do.

I don’t need to be sitting at a laptop to be writing. The most important thing is to be present in my life, and with the ideas that dance, dart, or linger in my mind while I’m focused on other things.

 

It’s a writing, watching, and waiting, tucked away, kind of time.

And now, what I’ve been quietly up to…

Goal Buffet Dishes sampled this session:

Blogging:

Focus point:

  • Offering a sustainable schedule of features.

Maintain four non-ROW80 posts weekly, throughout the round. On target.

Keep up with comments; or post an explanation. I tend to lose track when I am especially creation-focused. Target attained!

  • It took me till Tuesday, but I’m caught up, at the moment. =D

Thinking and dreaming….

Writing:

Focus points:

  • Noveling-in-progress.

  • NaNo Planning

To Be or Not to Be:

Completerough draft: ~200,000 words totalOctober 31.

  • Chapter Fifty-Three: 2,235 new words.

  • WIP total: 193,323/ ~ 200,000 words.

  • October, to date: 5,222/ ~11,899 words.

Plan King of Shreds and Patches (A Trueborn Warp Series Star Trek fan fiction novel); complete Rock Your Plot planning exercise/ scene-by-scene outline. – October 31.

Flesh out all plot points with Goal/Motivation/Conflict/Disaster. Target attained!

  • All plot point GCMDs complete.

Add quick sketches of connecting scenes. Target exceeded!

  • All sketches done – and mapped!

Weave Plot Points for all characters into the framework of the WIP. Target exceeded!

  • 60/60 scenes mapped! Yup – I have the skeleton of a novel here! =D

Add GMCD for all connecting scenes.

  • 1/28 completed.

Give quick title and sketched action for all scenes.

  • 2/60 completed.

Weaving Worlds by the water, with coffee. Photo credit: Eden f. Mabee.

Hometending:

Focus point:

  • Tidying and beautifying my physical, virtual, and interior spaces.

Keep email inbox clear. Check at least twice weekly; sort, file, and delete each time. Target attained!

  • My Kindle is perfect for quick cleanouts.

Keep Spam folder clear. Check at least twice weekly; sort, file, and delete each time. Target attained!

  • Again, Kindle to the rescue!

Lifetending:

Focus points:

  • Relationships.

  • Exercise and Movement.

  • Passions.

Make time and sweetness for Jim, in ways that are meaningful to us both, and in ways that are important to him. Target attained!

  • Yes. Talking, flirting lots of laughter, remembering why I married him (in part, because we know the same old commercials and say the same thing at the same time…trust me, that’s a big thing, sixteen years later!).

Do the same for the children, individually and together. Target attained!

  • Walks, treats, sharing cuddles, playing, learning, creating,laughing, and exploring togher.

  • Workout with Miah – we pedaled 5 miles each on the recumbent bikes, and he learned what “RPM” stands for.

Immerse myself in writing, living, and being with my family, striving for presence. On target.

  • I got back to a bit of new writing on TBONTB.

  • I was more present in my nascent story than in the “actual” presence.

  • I was present with these cool people I live with!

Regularly evaluate; adjust as needed. On target.

  • For just before NaNo, I think things are blending nicely.

Practice movement daily, for at least a few minutes. Target attained!

  • A bit better than last session. Out of my low-energy days, and wanting more movememt.

  • A little dancing, two walks, a tiny bit of hometending, and a workout.

Add a little more intention to this, and remember to move even when in long nighttime writing sessions, at least occasionally. On target.

  • Doing a little better with this. NaNo tends to take over my mind this time of year.

Work out at least once a week. Target attained!

  • Pleasant moderate workout with Miah. 2 minutes on the arc trainer, 5 miles on the recumbent bike, and weight machines – fly, quad press, and torso rotation.

Get outside for at least a few minutes each day. Pending.

  • Forgot to go out again on Monday – Jim came home from errands at my usual time, and I got happily engaged in being with him.

  • Sunday, walked with kids and dog.

  • Tuesday, walking to and from Y and grocery store (I park at the far end of lots, generally, to add walking time.)

Pick two or three daily potential outside times.

  • I have one, for now. I like to take a walk around 6pm. That may shift as fall advances and dark comes sooner -our rural road isn’t the best for nighttime walking.

Allow time and space to indulge my passions. Target attained!

  • Yup. Time with loved ones; Enterprise with Jim, Castle, and much wordplay and plotting. Time outside in the air!

Tend sponsor duties promptly. Target attained!

Spy on other ROWers here!

Inspiration in the commonplace….
Posted in Coffee and Conversation, Life Writing

Coffee and Conversation: The Nature of Gaps

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

It’s Monday again – and, around here, that means it’s time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my familywas driving on an interstate highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living their lives, lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to see what those lives were, and to share my own…

Here, each Monday, I strive to reach that understanding through offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and share something of yours.

I recently watched “Is School Enough?”, a PBS documentary which explored alternative educational programs. Rather than a curriculum designed to cover everything that’s deemed important, with the solid reassurance of textbooks and homework and tests, slamming locker doors and ringing of bells, the clockwork schedule of traditional schooling, here were kids doing meaningful projects, following their passions, and accessing mentors to help them with their independent studies.

Most schools, though, still attempt to construct solid bridges from point to point, so that there will be no gaps in learning. Lesson plans, worksheets, homework, test review, going over the same material in several different ways, are all intended to assure there will be no gaps. Summer reading lists and “summer bridge” workbooks, represent efforts to “make up” for the bridges that are apparently burned when kids aren’t in school.

Gaps are a natural and beautiful part of life!

Our children, now 9 and 12, have never attended school, and might never choose to do so.

Will my children have learning gaps?

Yes. For one thing, they may never experience first hand how it feels to go to school.

Do schooled kids have learning gaps?

Also yes. The vast majority don’t know what it is to live year-round without school framing their lives – to live life on their own terms, gaps and all.

We all have gaps. I have gaps you don’t, and you have ones that I don’t. We’re all different, and live different lives that require different knowledge and skills. None of us can ever learn everything there is to learn, and what we need to learn changes, depending on our life circumstances of the moment.

The learning that happens here, every day, makes me thankful for these naturally occurring gaps in learning. I see it as the continuation of the intense learning drive that we all had as babies and toddlers, a maturation of that passionate and endless investigation of the very young; it’s grown along with us.

Recently, here, it’s been a small colony of woolly bear caterpillars, and Kindle documentaries of their activities. It’s researching anything from My Little Pony videos to TNT to Morse code to liquid-cooled gaming computers to Schrodinger’s cat. It’s reading William Carlos Williams poetry, and Death in Yellowstone for hours, stopping to explore geology, biology, litigation, history, safety, parental attitudes, ethical and conservation considerations, geography, and more. It’s going places – museums, playgrounds, the ocean, the mountains, events, to other states. It’s touching, tasting, smelling, feeling budgeting,building, creating, laughing, and being…and MORE. So very much more.

For us, learning is a thriving meadow, wild and beloved, nourished by sun and rain, pollinated by bees from various hives, but not forced to a shape of someone else’s choosing. Here, learning always belongs to the learner.

We value what each member of the family is interested in, whether it’s a lifelong passion, or a fleeting spark, quickly ignited, and as quickly flared out. We budget for and seek out adventures and resources that feed those passions. We are a family of busy, impassioned learners!

So what do we do, when we find a gap in what we know?

Exploring a gap near Missoula, Montana.

We might:

  • Explore the gap’s shape.
  • Play around with what to do next.
  • Find someone who knows more about that gap than we do.
  • Ask for help.
  • Hike into the gap, and learn it as we go.
  • Research it via books, internet, discussion, or otherwise.
  • Find other gaps we didn’t know we had yet.
  • Know that we can’t possibly learn everything. and other stuff matters more to us…
  • Walk away, and leave the gap as it is.
  • Revel in the gap’s mystery.
  • Come back later, or not (see above; no one can learn everything!)

So, what about those gaps I know our kids will have in their learning?

Before our kids could read, their lives were a treasure trove of gap-navigating tools. With a lifetime of practice, they can find many ways to learn things they want to know. They haven’t forgotten the techniques they first learned as babies, and they have, over the years, expanded upon that foundation. What they are interested in today is far more sophisticated, and closer to adult learning, than what fired them up when they were younger, and they’ve grown independent and inventive at learning what they want to explore.

Each of us, when we’re born, has a vast and deep gap – but we evolved to begin filling it up right away – Mom’s smell, face, and voice, control over a small body, social gestures, language, eating, toileting…and the list goes on and on. We all begin by filling those gaps.

Which is why I love to write about topics like this- to offer us all a chance to explore the gaps between us, and maybe learn something of value, in the process.

I want to acknowledge these posts by Sandra Dodd and Vickie Bergman, which inspired my thoughts on the gaps in out lives. I was especially inspired to hear Vickie give her talk, “Mind the Gap”, at NEUC, with my son Jeremiah.

What are you learning these days? Have you explored any new gaps lately? Made great discoveries? Thoughts on this post, or the nature of gaps? Wanna share?

The joy of space…..love that gap!