Creative outlets are what makes this family function properly. When out of balance, we all four get grumpy and unsettled. This has been especially challenging for us this year as we’ve moved into a very small, charming, and old bungalow with some fabulous unfinished spaces. We naively believed that we could have these spaces (one an attic that will become an art studio, and the second a basement that will outfit a music rehearsal and recording space) finished by early last fall. Ha! North Dakota’s oil boom related growth has kept every contractor and sub-contractor so busy it’s unbelievable. As a result, we’ve had to wait and wait and wait. We’ve been on top of each other, and the space we naturally take up for creating has been pretty much confined to the kitchen table.
With all our art boxes still packed away in the garage, we (especially Eva and I) have felt unsettled this year. We have had some progress, and we see an end in sight: the attic by the end of the month, the basement by… dare I hope for the end of March? This makes us incredibly happy, and in the meantime, we keep our dining table nice and cluttered and full.
Oh, but the lure of these spaces! Eva and I are already dreaming of our separate writing areas up there, hers a window seat that I’ll build for her, mine a simple table and chair. A spacious Lego area, and of course lots of space for canvasses and paper, paint and pastels. Just the idea of all that gets our creative juices flowing.
in the meantime, Eva is working steadily on her newest novel, a science fiction piece that takes place in an animal cell. She’s had to take out a character, which has proven to be the biggest editing challenge she’s ever faced. But she’s determined. We cleaned off her bedroom desk yesterday so that she could feel more authorly. She’s been making writing-related posts on her Facebook author page that are so cheerful it feels like summer.
Eva is also continuing to explore music, enjoying playing trumpet in band, and teaching herself how to play piano. Bass clef is still sketchy, and she never commits enough to sit down at the piano, but she’ll stand there picking away every time she passes by the instrument (which is often). Spotify and her iPod have helped introduce Eva to new music, and right now she’s really into powerful women with a harder musical edge like Paramore and Joan Jett.
Ian has big goals too, which I’ve talked about before. Now that he’s done with his lengthy application process for the Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards competition, he’s focusing on an orchestral composition that will begin as a 18th century classical work and transform into a modern heavy metal sound. A collaboration with fashion designer Isabella Taylor, they are working together to create a multi-media piece that moves from stately, refined conservatism to a freedom of expression and thought. She will design the fashions, and the music will help express the message in a runway-show-type presentation. It’s challenging work, and Ian has gotten his music theory teacher on board with the project so that he can receive regular expert feedback along the way.
Another big goal for Ian has to do with the pending space. Once the basement is finished, he hopes to turn it into a community hotspot, welcoming musicians of all ages to come and create music together. He wants to create official performing groups, but also to simply have opportunities to play with new folks just for the sheer delight of making music.
As an extension of this, Ian hopes to produce his first album this summer. We’ve been in steady conversation about this. It’s a challenging thing to take on, mainly because of the wide variety of genres Ian enjoys. How does one place a rock ballad next to a composition for orchestra? Do we make it a hodge-podge collection of his work as a type of demo? Do we release individual songs instead, using his Bandcamp page? Lots of things to consider here, and we haven’t figured it all out yet. There’s also the fundraising to think about. Recording of course isn’t cheap, and we feel it is important for Ian to be involved with this aspect of the business as well. We’ve discussed a possible Kickstarter campaign, which opens up all sorts of new things to research and explore, like what all needs to be in place before the campaign begins, how to make a convincing Kickstarter video, what benefits to offer supporters, and how to promote the campaign to ensure success.
And that’s just the kids. Husband-Jamie is shopping for agents for a new YA novel, just published his first academic book, and is about to begin a new novel. I want to paint more and write more. I just met the lovely Elizabeth Raum this week, a professional children’s nonfiction author, and she has me inspired. I’m also lucky to have the brilliant and creative Jennifer Woods in my life, the vibrant editor of Typecast Publishing, who will I swear change the world with her vision and commitment to literary social engagement. Her work and enthusiasm is also quite inspiring and contagious. I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings.
If you see value in these exercises and goals, think about it within the language of school. This is our family’s school, our life. This is our education. If we could be so bold in supporting our schools and teachers, in training and then trusting them to be more subjective in their evaluation of student success – to accept portfolio reports instead of standardized test scores, think about it! The things we do here in our homeschool environment could be made accessible to so many other children! That’s an educational paradigm I could get into.
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