I was invited by the amazing Karen over at My Own Mind blog to join the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Karen is an intelligent, thoughtful homeschooling mom who has written many thought provoking posts I admire, and I'm honored to be in such good company! There are four questions each blogger is requested to answer.
What am I working on?
My writing is all on this blog, where I can write pieces of the length I prefer and on a schedule I can work with. My writing goes hand in hand with my photography in documenting the world around us. My monthly event list of free and low cost events around Portland takes up a good chunk of my free time. But it's totally worth it, because I always find amazing learning opportunities I'd never find without all the research it takes to make the list.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I deliberately try to make my posts useful in some way. I like to read blogs if they contain information I can use. And I like to read blogs written by friends, no matter what they are about. But I steer clear of random photos of the gardens and homes of strangers, cutesy craft projects, tedious recipes, etc. which some of the most successful blogs written by homeschoolers are famous for. My favorite craft projects are disposable or edible because clutter is my arch enemy, but we rarely have time for those anyway. I've often wondered why on earth some of these blogs are so super popular, because I don't often find information or new ideas I can use in them. I've read that these blogs are "aspirational"; people love them because they depict a perfect lifestyle where the children are having an idyllic childhood surrounded by exotic chickens and Waldorf toys in dappled sunshine. I'm happy for their authors if they are making good money from their writing, but this depiction of their homes and lives is obviously artificial and it actually strikes me as sexist. It's every bit as false as the airbrushed women in advertisements, and depictions of perfect homes that no homeschooling mom without staff could ever achieve just feed off our insecurities. I'm never going to dye easter eggs using natural materials gathered from woodland clearings, or bake cakes that form a picture of a rainbow with each slice. We don't need that! We should be proud of all the very hard work us homeschooling moms do to give our kids amazing educations, while still taking care of our families and homes. No one needs our lives to look like a Nova Natural catalog.
Why do I write what I do?
I love the Pacific Northwest, and I want to inspire people to get out and discover the spectacular beauty all around us. I've lived in 5 other large metro areas, and the Portland area is smaller than the rest. It has more hidden gems than I ever imagined, and I'm still discovering new ones. So to me it's always worthwhile to drive across town, even *gasp!* to cross the Willamette or even the Columbia to explore. I'm also constantly surprised by all the amazing things you can find in the natural world, absolutely anywhere, just by looking closely. I'd love to inspire others to turn over a log and find a salamander, or look closely at a tiny wildflower, tadpole or spider before passing by.
I'm also a strong advocate of direct learning. We do use curriculum and lots and lots of library materials. But who remembers a single worksheet from our school days? Experiences are what we remember. I could give my child a book on natural history, American history, or world culture, and he may well read something useful and interesting. But he's far more likely to remember crawling through the Ape Cave while learning how lava tubes form, watching archaeologists working at a dig and explaining what they are finding at their site and how all their tools and equipment work, or attending a cultural celebration filled with the colors, sounds and foods of another land. I want him to meet lots of people who have jobs that are inspiring, fulfilling and meaningful, and truly get a look at what their work is like firsthand. I'd love to inspire others to find great resources within our community to do the same. Someone once told me that my blog is "not about homeschooling." That's completely wrong. It's all about homeschooling. Despite the name, the word does not mean we are confined to sitting at home going over curriculum. When we do that, it beats me why anyone would want to see pictures of it.
How does my writing process work?
The vast majority of my blog posts start with pictures. I start by editing our photos and selecting which ones will work well on my blog. Then I write about what we did and saw, and try to include as much information as anyone would need to know to make it useful. There are so many incredible places and events that happen in our area, I'd like to encourage more families to check them out.
Two things can be really time consuming. One is identifying things. When we find an unusual flower, an intriguing bird, a strange creepy crawly in a tidepool, etc., I want to be able to share with my son and with my readers just what it is, and hopefully learn something about it in the process. Little by little we're learning quite a lot about the natural world this way.
Another thing that can be really time consuming is editing. I don't always know when a piece is finished, especially if it's of any real length. I'll revise, and revise, and revise, trying to keep things as concise as possible. Not many of us really like to read anymore, and I'm hopeful that people will eventually reach the end!
Continuing this blog tour the week of August 4 is Jen Swann Downey, the smart, funny and unstoppable force behind her writer's blog, Jen Swann Downey, and the fantastic new children's book "The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand." Time-traveling librarians use ninja fighting in a never-ending quest to defend free speech! How awesome is that? Read it or be square!!!