A Slow, Smooth ROW:ROWnd 3, Update #5

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I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I write since I began ROW80 this past January. I’ve learned that forcing myself never works, but writing in joy and passion creates deep and true writing, and the desire to write more, and then more, and still more, until it seems that every moment, awake and asleep is filled with the thoughts and emotions and fantasies that spring from my writing, and feed, not only it, but the rest of my life, as well.

I’ve learned that setting goals only works if the goals arise from within me, as the organic result of where I am and where I want to go. This changes from day to day, and has little or nothing to do with anyone besides me.

I’ve learned that I can accomplish an amazing amount, and well – so long as I am focused on my goals, and in harmony with my own energy and attention and mood, and with the life flowing on around me.

Lego Tornado, by Annalise!

I’ve learned that when I share my passions with my family, give to them this part of myself that I held separate from them for so long, they are not only supportive, but they will often share in my passion, to some small degree.

I’ve learned that sometimes I have more to say than I can write down, and others, when I am mulling and composting, almost nothing.

I’ve learned that both of those are OK, and so are all the points in between. For me, things build and grow from beneath, and trying to stop that beneath the surface time, or turn it into something else, dams up the process, and leaves me rudderless and powerless, unable to do either.

It’s been a deeper time, here. My focus has been less on new writing (although I have been indulging all my whims for my McCoy / Spock Chameleon’s Dish fanfic prologue), and more on things like homeschool reporting, transcribing an old writing practice notebook, cleaning up email and the house, research, new reading, and rereading the first of the two drafts of Trueborn.

Photos by Annalise, age 8.

It’s a little deceptive. It has seemed, often, like I was in a rut or just spinning my wheels, going over the same things again, and again, and again, with very little new thrown in.

I tried, several times, to add in a book review, or go to blogs to comment, or answer comments, or begin new blog posts, flash fiction, or essays….

Those things really haven’t happened yet, but here’s what did….

ROWnd 3 – Update #5



Trueborn Series:

  • Trueborn:

  • Reread current rough draft from 1998-9ish and 2000.

  • I have reread and jotted notes up to Chapter Thirty-Nine (page 154 of 240) in the loose leaf binder.

  • This leaves only 86 pages for this draft.

  • Once I complete it, I intend to give myself a little space before beginning the reread of the spiral-bound raft.

  • Triage existing research.

  • I have decided that I will do the triage in the break between rereading the two drafts, and I will use my recently-cleared large worktable space for this project – likely on a “Daddy Night” when Jim takes the children out for several hours so I can have a bit of solitude at home.

  • Chameleon’s Dish:.

  • Compile a print copy for editing, page count, and to see what it looks like!

  • Go through each scene to edit, take notes, and list research questions.

  • Complete basic research based upon library books and websites; looking for information to enhance later digging and prevent hugely obvious gaffes).

  • Hamlet – Completed.

  • Shakespeare‘s England – page 68 of 252. I am no longer taking notes – just reading for the general feel, because the notetaking was ahige job that was threatening to take over the entire research project, and what I am looking for now is a more layered and true vision of the time Henry lived in, and in which Tisira’s portion of the story is set. Deeper research will likely not come in until after I have written the second draft (maybe before the end of the year, and maybe not….).

  • Shakespeare: His Work and His World (reading aloud with kids) Completed. Jeremiah, in particular, loved this book, first asking to read quotes, then sections, aloud. He learned how to read the notations for Acts, Scenes, and Lines, and the flavor of the language, and some translations. He demonstrated that he can read Roman numerals, and he learned a bit about using punctuation to control the meter of poetic lines, and about several plays. He is interested in watching the Mel Gibson Hamlet that caused me to fall in love with the play, in The Reduced Shakespeare Company, and in seeking out other plays (Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and King Henry VIII. We talked about canals in Venice, Jim and I walking across London Bridge – in Lake Havasu, Arizona, believe it or not! – and about Shakespeare in Dead Poets’ Society and Star Trek. So, not only did this book give a lot of information, lovely art, and a sense of the times, it inspired a lot of learning (awesome to put on those silly reports the state demands because they can’t see how kids could possibly find value in Shakespeare if not forced to it!), and a wonderful bonding time. Annalise came and went and learned and shared, but the book is geared toward 11-15 year olds, and some was boring for where she is, right now, at 8.

    Annalise, Lego Man, watercolor, and Barack O’Llama!
  • The Colonial Cookbook – page 102 of 128. I am considering attempting several recipes, or adaptations of recipes, in this book. I like the simple ingredients and low-cost approaches, and the labor is often not intensive, which would allow me the feeling of playing with the food – my favorite thing about cooking. This will also offer me a more sensory understanding of food at the time I am writing about, here.

  • Experiment with removing Tisira’s story as a YA novel, with a potential optional add-on of the fanfic elements….not sure how this will work, exactly, but I think it might be the best approach to have something marketable without sacrificing my vision.

  • I am still playing with the fanfic Prologue scene, between Spock and McCoy. It seems to be a good place to let my mind wander and flow, and I feel a wave of creative expression building and spreading to other topics….

Flash Fiction WIPs

  • Go through old story notebooks for source material.

  • Although not technically from my old notebooks, I have found several old stories, poems, and bits of sketches in the papers I will be triaging for Trueborn. I have set these aside, and will explore them in further depth, likely during ROWnd 4.

Homeschool Administration Ad Infinitum….

  • IHIPs for both children (due four weeks after receipt of packet from school district).

  • I have completed the Social Sciences section for both children.

  • I have adapted both children’s Social Sciences Resources sections

  • I have completed the Visual Arts sections for both.

  • I have adapted the Visual Arts Resources sections for both.

  • I have completed both children’s Music sections.

  • I have adapted the Music Resources sections for both children.

  • I have completed the Foreign Language Arts (FLA) sections for both children.

  • I have adapted the Foreign Language Arts Resources for both.

  • I have completed both children’s Health and Safety sections.

  • I have adapted Annalise’s Health and Safety Resources section.

  • The rough drafts of both reports are nearly completed.

  • Once they’re finished, my plan is to set them aside for, as Miah used to say, “a few whiles”, and then revise, add, delete, attach links, and polish.

  • My ultimate hope is to have them waiting in my email drafts folder, when the district finally sends the packet they are required to send (as every other year, they are already overdue with this, which should be sent within 10 business days of their receipt of our letters of intent (emailed on June 26). Last year, the package arrived toward the end of August, and I didn’t begin the IHIPs until then…this year, I would like to be finished, so that all I will need to do is verify that the law hasn’t changed in any relevant way, and send them on their way! =)

    Learning just as they please!
  • Begin setting up portfolios for both children – invite them to be a part of this process! =)

  • I have taken a few more pictures – of current as well as past creations.

  • Both children and I have discussed my purpose in recording their projects, and various old forgotten favorites found along the way. I stack of things Lise created at age 4.5 were fascinating to her, now, at 8, and I am glad to have them!

  • Relax, enjoy, learn, grow, laugh, and … BREATHE!

  • So far, so good! Lots of baby bird observation, Lego building, link sending, Netflix watching, hometending helping, party planning, Shakespeare exploration, watercoloring, Plate Defending and pet loving going on around here. Far more laughter than tears, and we are regaining our energy and balance post-camping. A very mellow, introspective run of days, for all of us…a place of deepening on many levels.


  • Continue reading books for Bookmark Break Challenge – aim for 7 in July, 8 in August, and 9 in September, but these targets will be flexible – summer is prime traveling time for the kids and I and we have things planned and others we’re considering.

  • I am considering dropping out of this challenge. I seem to have a lot of trouble remembering to update, although I want to, and I feel I am not quite meeting the purpose of cleaning up the books I’ve begun – I seem to add more new ones, than I do finish old ones….

  • If I do drop this challenge, I still intend to aim for the number of completed books over 100 pages, but my criteria will expand to include a few books I can’t include in the challenge, so most of my reading, even research reading, will count toward my goal.

  • I will consider this until I am certain, and will make a decision by the end of the month.

  • Guerrilla Learning – 194 of 206.

  • Hamlet – Completed.

  • Shakespeare’s England – page 69 of 252.

  • Container Gardening – page 100 of 256.

  • The Mermaid Chair – page 46 of 335.

  • I have completed 2 of 7 books for this month.

  • Continue reading an average of three articles from my To Be Read files, weekly.

  • I have read an average of 3 articles per week.

  • I read Goals, Resolutions, Words.

  • I read Still Waiting.

    Lego Joy, Colorful Lives…..

Other Writing:

  • Write 1 book review each week.

  • Little on this goal since last update – beginnings of a rough draft I really didn’t like.

  • I am considering altering this goal, perhaps to an average of 1 review a week. I know I can complete 2, and possibly 3, in a week, if I am in the proper space – and I clearly am not, just now.

  • I will contemplate this one, and decide by the end of the month.

  • Play with essay ideas as desired; aim for three submittable essays each month.

  • I have been in the composting (not writing) stages of two ideas. One I have written on and need to mull a bit longer, and the other is waiting its moment ot break free.

  • Again, I seem to need to be in a different mental/emotional space for writing. I feel it approaching, but it’s not here yet, and I have learned to go with that sense of things (a big reason why I have so many diverse goals – to take advantage of whatever energy I have, in any given moment, without wasted energy in pursuing things that would be forced and far from joyful!).

  • Write at 750 Words every day, with possible hiatuses for Unschoolers Rock the Campground (July 12-16); Learn Nothing Day (July 24); Northeast Unschooling Conference (August 23-?); and kids’ birthdays (July 8, September 2).On my birthday (July 29), I WRITE!!!

  • I’m still on track for this goal. With the exception of the first day of the ROWnd (when I was so busy posting my goals that I just plain forgot and caught up the next day, and the travel days to and from Unschoolers Rock the Campground 4, I have written at least 750 words every day.

  • I have a request in to join a brand new 750 Words Facebook Group, which will likely provide me with even more incentive to get to the site and do my words each day (I haven’t checked back there, yet, but intend to,perhaps tonight).

  • Use 750 Words for whatever – flash pieces, essays, venting, ranting, reports, book reviews, etc.

  • I have been focused on the fanfic Prologue for Chameleon’s Dish, playing with ideas and plots.

  • I have written the too-autobiographical beginnings of a review draft for To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Midnight (and Corki!).


  • Aim to post at least twice a month to The Unfettered Life. Make one of them an update, perhaps roughly categorized to make creating reports easier.

  • I have not posted a second time. I do have three posts in mind – Annalise’s birthday, Elijah’s birthday, and recent activities, growth, and projects.

  • Begin using this blog in a way that really supports documenting, so that it does double duty as a personal tool for me in the way it once did.

  • Each of these posts will achieve this guideline.

Organizing/Tootling my Horn….

  • Continue inputting June 2000 Writing Practice Notebook, if not completed before ROWnd begins.

  • I finished this notebook, and have attained this goal.

  • Choose a new notebook; input into Penzu.

  • Jeremiah selected my next notebook, from April of 1999, I think. I have not yet begun inputting it.

  • Continue sorting and filing files on laptop.

  • I worked on this rather suddenly, when Google Chrome suddenly dropped all my apps and my Theme last week. I also noticed that FaceTheme had gotten loaded (not intentionally!), and I deleted it and a few other programs I do not use or want.

  • After deleting, I added back the apps I use most often. Fortunately, I didn’t lose any of the app account information. I still have apps to add, but I have gone from three pages of apps (many of which I never used), to less than one. I like that.

  • Set aside time each week to winnow email. Read items being saved for later reading, sort or dispose as indicated.

  • My Inbox currently has 52 messages. I have not checked email for 2 days, and I suspect most of these are blog digests, as per my settings.

  • My Leisure Time Reading file now has 99 messages. I suspect it may go up a bit today, before I get to reading again.

    Three faces of Annalise, by Annalise!

Celebrating Life!

  • Add some form of specific motion (t’ai chi, swimming, hiking, biking, skating, dancing, etc) to each week. Keep track of what, where, when, for how long, and how I felt during and after.

  • I have mostly worked at hometending this week. After the physical exertions at camp, I haven’t had energy for much more. I have felt my energy returning, and am looking forward to a more active upcoming week.

  • Fill us all up with joy, and continue cultivating family peace.

  • Did well here. Lots of reading together, some watching TV, a more workable plan for our common spaces, gave the kids more latitude for working through their own issues before I became involved – and, mostly, they settled things without my help. =)

  • Spend time cleaning and beautifying my personal internal and external spaces each week.

  • I have improved the state of my bedroom and my office.

  • I have spent considerable time exploring my own depths, and honoring where I am.

  • Embrace and be present in all my moments.

  • I have been quite present, and am working on embracing and letting be the trickier ones.

  • Allow my emotions to be as they are. Practice expressing them calmly and reflectively.

  • I am allowing my emotions to be most of the time. I am feeling less guilt and fear of my darker places, and, perhaps as a result, I seem to be able to express them more calmly and productively.

So, now, as so often happens when I stop to recount what’s gone on in one of the ebb times, I look up there and realize that there was far more happening than I thought there was, at the time.

  • The notebook has been transcribed, and another chosen.
  • The rough drafts of the children’s IHIPs (Individualized Home Instruction Plans) are nearly complete.
  • I am less than 100 pages from the end of that rough draft.
  • My email is becoming more and more manageable.
  • I delighted in my reading, and shared that delight with the children.
  • We have a saner way of dealing with our common spaces that may even outwit my monthly “48 hours of hormonal hell”.

And, while doing these things, I have been renewing from beneath. Long days at home, where we all orbit each other, but mostly are engaged in our own projects….

And the ideas have been flowing, and growing, and are now beginning to rise to my surface, in a series of tickling little bubbles, each one a delicious surprise.

Soon, I feel, the shift will come, and I may find myself too energized and fertile to be content with the organizational projects I’ve been working on…

Then, I will need to WRITE…Yes, in big capital letters, and with fierce tenderness and truth. I have things to say, things that are beginning to bubble up on the rising tide of my soul. Things that will, soon enough, refuse to remain unsaid….

I expect that, just as today’s heavy, humid calm has given way to spates of rain and the rolling power of thunder, this pregnant pause I have been in must give way to the rolling power of my need to set forth my truths…..

I always wonder how others approach their writing…

How about you?

Do you have goals for every mood, and are you inclined to honor your own shifting balance of energy?

Are you more likely to force yourself to work on what you feel you must work on, whether you feel like it or not, as a matter of routine and discipline?

Is writing your passion, joy, and place of revelry, or is it something you come with determination, prepared to do the hard work of perfecting your craft?

My original ROWnd 3 goals, in their entirely.

The ROW80 Blog Hop!


  1. Alberta – thinking about writing is definitely writing, for me….for a while the kids didn’t understand that, but they really seem to now…in thier own ways, they are also both storytellers.

    I am happy you have Dragon, and I continue to send out much good strong healthy energy, dancing its way across the waves….right to you!

    Thanks for taking a few minutes to spend with me. =)

  2. writing is def. delight and joy – fortunatly thinkng about writing counts as well:) so as with now when I cannot make def. goals because of other issues I can still allow imagination free reign – then when energy/circumastance allow I can get the fingers flying – well the dragon theses days:) well done on all acheived

  3. I love the lessons you’ve learned and shared, Shanjeniah—particularly on writing with passion and living with joy. Keep up the awesome work on all fronts! And thanks so much for the warm shout out. 🙂

    • August –

      Thank you for stopping by! Obviously, a lesson I haven’t quite learned yet is how to answer comments in a timely manner!

      I love sharing the awesome that I find along the way. =D

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