It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the Most Wonderful HORRIBLE Time of the Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…No.  It’s. Not. Every stinkin’ Christmas a tragedy occurs- every Christmas, thousands of us die.  Do we deserve it? No. Do we like it? No. But do we wish for a different way of life? Um…yes.  I have often dreamed of being a rock, cold and smooth. Or a book, treasured and kept safe. Even being a jack-in-the-box looks appealing right now!!!  But no. Here I am, just bein’ a tree. A pine tree. A Christmas tree

Yes, that’s right.  I am one of your precious decorations for a holiday; you chopped down my brother last year, my parents the year before, and my girlfriend the year before that.  Ellie…she was hot.  No, I mean literally.  Someone thought it would be a good idea to put candles on the Christmas tree that year, and when Ellie twitched while trying to hold in a sneeze, she caught on fire.  And the guilty party did not even have the DECENCY to send a sympathy card!  

The Legend of the Mighty Cliff

Legend has it that the very first North American martyr to Christmas was my great-great-great-great-great…y’know what, this will take forever…my extremely great grandfather.  (I don’t know why everybody likes him so much, none of us have ever met the guy. How do they know he was so great??) Anyway, his name was Cliff, and he lived a peaceful life filled with simple pleasures; the chatter of squirrels and songs of birds, the fertile earth and sweet breeze.

But then, one day, a wimpy, harmless-looking thing on two spindly legs came and RUINED IT ALL. It used a weird, deceptively tiny INSTRUMENT OF THE DEVIL to chop down my extremely great grandfather Cliff, and after watching him crash to the ground, proceeded to drag him in a very undignified manner through the forest. 

They say the angels wept that day. With his dying words, Cliff informed his brethren (via carrier-owl) that the strange little creature had propped his broken body up in its abode, and wrapped him ‘round with impaled little corn-children on a string.  The creature hung paper from his branches and crowned him with a golden star; crowned like some pagan king prepared for a sacrifice ritual. I shudder simply thinking about it.  

A Reign of Terror

When they heard of this atrocity, the Council of Trees got together (and by got together I mean communicated by owl, since, y’know, we’re kinda stuck).  They compiled all of the information gleaned from various informants in the International O24U Association and discovered that the inhumane practice of chopping trees was all the rage in Germany.  Many plans were conceived to put this reign of terror to an end. However, by the time a solution was settled upon, the barbaric tradition had spread to the point of no revocation (tree councils are not known for their timeliness, owls and all.  Maybe we should look into drones). Since then, all conceivable options to rid the world of this savagery have fallen flat. World domination has been discussed, but the lack of opposable thumbs (in addition to legs, brains, and other useful organs) has proved problematic.  

Current Events

So here I sit, just waiting for fate to laugh evilly and point some merciless wood’s-bane of a human my way.  Oh. Oh no. Oh, heck no! Are those…footsteps?? Somebody knock on wood! KNOCK ON WOOD!!!  

I see a small female break through the foliage.  I breathe a sigh of relief; that little sprout is no match for my brawn!  But…I tense as she sucks a greedy portion of air into her lungs.  

“DADDYYY!!  I FOUND THE PERFECT TREE!!”  

Oh, root rot, not another one!  Another bumbling happiness-killer ambles into my clearing.  And. He. Has. An. AXE! Oh, for the love of all that is green, please keep that thing away from me!!  He advances like death itself! I’m comin’ Ellie, I’m comin’!  Oh, the humanity! -Or rather…oh the forestry!! SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT!

“Oh Daddy, not that one.”  The disgusting little creature wrinkles her nose.  “That one.”  

I glance behind me in disbelief and see my shaking neighbor, Steve.  Might I add that Steve is the single, most annoying tree I have ever…and I do mean ever, met.  And he’s not nearly as robust and amply-chlorophylled  as I am. You want…HIM?!  I gape as Steve is promptly cut down and hauled away.  Too late, I yell after them: “HOW VERY DARE YOU!!! I AM CLEARLY THE SUPERIOR TREE HERE!!  YOU JUST GIT YERSELF BACK HERE THIS MINUTE OR I WILL PERSONALLY-

Emily W bio

About the Author: Emily Wilford is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student.  She lives in Iowa, which is always either really hot or really stinkin’ cold.  She really likes a lot of stuff, so trust me, I’m sparing you by only listing writing, mythology, Tae Kwon Do, horses, procrastinating, theater, and gazebos.  You can usually find her reading a book while hiding in her natural habitat (aka under a blanket), and if not there, she’s probably trying to wrangle her five siblings (it never works, btw).  She loves to sketch and listen to music, too; it’s truly amazing she ever gets anything done!  Also, she finds it really weird to write about herself in the third person. Emily is part of the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club and has written previous articles for us, including Creative Writing for Awesome People! 

 

Should I participate in NaNoWriMo?

Should I participate in NaNoWriMo?

(This post is a two-part series on NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.  Be sure to check out the first part of the series, What in the World is NaNoWriMo. For more information, check out the NaNoWriMo website.)

Should I participate in NaNoWriMo?

Before we begin, we have to establish a few ground rules. You have to want something specific.  It may be to get to a goal of finishing a writing project.  Perhaps you crave the specific experience of telling life to take ten and diving in head first to the creative genius experience. You won’t finish if you don’t want one of those two in some variation.

Should you participate in NaNoWriMo? See what we have to say about that at True North Homeschool Academy! #homeschool #writing #Nanowrimo

Next, creation has to be a passion. Reading, writing, telling a funny story, the literary muse has to be a thing for you. Without that passion, yeah you might finish, but probably not because you really loved it and the end result is likely to be stiff and formulaic.

We aren’t writing a mechanical engineering report, we’re setting out to create a story. Which is a dynamic, multifaceted thing that’s almost a living organism in its own right. And you have to take all these different pieces and stitch them together like doctor Frankenstein and zap it with the energy of creative frenzy, and then sit back in horror as it takes on a life of its own and quite possibly tries to eat you. (For those of you who’ve ever created a project bigger and more convoluted than a doctoral theses, you know exactly what I am saying here)

So how do we tame the beast?

How do we realize this mad passion without it being a suppressed lifelong obsession or a mad hobby that monopolizes all our time and makes us lose our job, girlfriend and get kicked out of school?

The answer is structured pursuit. Great novelists will tell you that consistency, dedication, and hard work are the key. Writing is a strange art in that you can’t just ‘make’ yourself feel creative. You have to have that muse.

But you can’t just wait around for your muse, we haven’t the time. Creativity is a tardy muse, and if you wait on his schedule then he’s going to arrive late, lush, and probably empty-handed. You have to go hunt him down with a butterfly net and a whiffle bat, stalk him up dark alleys and club him from behind, and hope you don’t catch his evil twin cynicism.

Writing is hard work. And it’s time-consuming. You have to do it every day to build the habits necessary to be successful. Creative genius best flows when you have a habit of writing and keep it on a schedule. An hour every morning. Thirty-minute word sprints after working out at night. A corner cafe where you always sit down with your back to the street twice a week. Consistency and dedication are what make the wheels spin.

But hard work takes energy. Emotional, mental and physical. So make sure, 1) you don’t forget to eat, or you’ll crash 2)+3) you have moral support and inspiration.

Here is where community comes in.

We are social creatures, and even when we are drained, praise from our fellows can give us a second wind, and commiserating with fellows who understand your struggle makes even the biggest challenges durable.

NaNo offers a clear goal with a finite timeline that is still large enough to work with. It offers you a way to track your progress and share with other like-minded people, which is accountability and encouragement, 2 things most novelists are lacking in their private lives. There are forums for brainstorming, sharing ideas that you love but don’t actually want to flesh out, or for you to pick up on other peoples ideas. There’s even a facet that lets you share a project with a friend so you don’t have to go it alone.

The NaNoWriMo community offers the structure, support and clear goal structure needed to succeed. It does a lot of the footwork so you can focus on the heavy lifting, and yes, the burden is still on you. You have to apply yourself, you have to challenge yourself, you have to make the commitment of time and energy to succeed.

So why NaNo? Is it a must. It’s not. But it is an invaluable asset and makes the noveling process a lot lighter, more fun, and not nearly so daunting.

Derek Nehring bio picture

 

Derek Nehring was homeschooled through High School, is in his Senior year of college majoring in Economics and Math, serves in the Nat Guard and enjoys reading, outdoor activities, coffee, and his sarcastic (very funny) family. 

What in the World is NaNoWriMo and Why Should You Care?

What in the World is NaNoWriMo and Why Should You Care?

(This post is a two-part series on NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, for more information, check out their website here.)

Autumn is always one of those special times of the year. Fall leaves swirling down around you as you walk down the sidewalk, dazzling in a brilliant display of reds, yellows, and pale greens. That light fog in the early morning adding an extra layer of enchantment to the morning, or breaking out the fuzzy socks and sweaters as you curl up in front of the fireplace with your favorite book.

It’s also a time for the back to school rush, twelve consecutive days of sleet and everyone’s favorite, slipping down the front steps on that first icing. Anyone can romanticize snow, howling winds or crazy fog conditions, but cracking your head on the concrete steps at twenty miles an hour, nope.

So remember to salt your steps. And while we’re waiting for jack frost with a parka and a gallon of anti-freeze, there’s an added element to the fall we enjoy. It adds an extra zing to the annual ‘stock up on tea and caffeine accessories’ of the fall. It’s the National Novel Writers Month.

NaNoWriMo - What is it and why should you even care? Come check out this post on the writing competition that homeschoolers love! #homeschool #writing #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy

What is National Novel Writers Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) you ask?

It’s an annual assemblage of nerds, novelists and book lovers galore who return every November to create the NaNoWriMo community. They usually spend the next thirty days scrambling over themselves to meet the 50,000-word goal by November 30th without forgetting to pay the bills or their name or to feed the cat and pick the kids up from the vet.

It isn’t always pretty. But it’s always fun, and it always brings the NaNo’ers back by the thousands. Is it worth it? Does anyone ever finish anything? Can you really get a novel written or even published by taking on this crazy one month challenge?

In a word: yes, you can.

If it’s worth it may be another matter. The successful NaNo’er is usually a closet thrill seeker who relishes in the extreme.  They often cut out an entire month from their life to detach from the world and pour into a single project, usually with several weeks ahead of planning, plotting, sometimes outlining, and always stocking up on that extra stash of tea and pre-made meals.

To the casual NaNoer its just a fun way to explore a creative interest or lifelong hobby, and make the fall that much more special. You get in touch with NaNoer’s from all over the country. Other adventurers and novel lovers who share your passion, challenges and secret dream to make that next great American novel. And while most won’t achieve that dream, they still get an opportunity to create, explore, and share whole worlds.

NaNoWriMo is that special time of year where all good nerds come together to defy reality and tell themselves they can. Despite the late nights, the crazy work schedule, managing the kids and the bills and the grad-paper, they cut out that odd hour or two a day to make their dreams take life on paper.

And while it may seem like a waste of time to the more sane members of society, to the literary of heart its the highlight of the season. And a lot of them do cross that finish line with their goals met and exceeded. And maybe just maybe, they are one of those lucky few who strikes gold and is dubbed a winner. But even if you’re not, to a NaNoer, the experience is the win.

Do you have a budding writer in your homeschool?  You may also enjoy our post on How to Start a Writing Club or our Mega-List of Writing Prompts.) 

Derek Nehring bio picture

 

Derek Nehring was homeschooled through High School, is in his Senior year of college majoring in Economics and Math, serves in the Nat Guard and enjoys reading, outdoor activities, coffee, and his sarcastic (very funny) family. 

The Mega List of Writing Prompts Plus a Free Printable

Do you use writing prompts in your homeschool?  Writing prompts are a quick and easy way to get your student’s creative juices flowing.  They can add an element of fun for struggling writers or give experienced writers ideas to expand their writing topics and style.

Here at True North Homeschool Academy, we love writing prompts.  We use them extensively in our writing club and our homeschools.  Today we thought we would make your life easier by sharing six different types of writing prompts, as well as samples of each.

Be sure to read all the way to the end to also grab some free student journal pages!

Do you love writing prompts as much as we do? Check out this mega list of writing prompts. It even includes free printable journal pages. You don't want to miss this one! #homeschool #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #writing

Humorous sketches to get your creative juices flowing!

Bible Quotes

  • “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is of good report, if there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these on these things.”
  • “All things work together for good!”
  • “His mercies are new every morning.”
  • “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
  • “To answer before listening — that is folly and shame.”
  • “Fight the good fight of the faith.
  • “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
  • “… Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

(Interested in starting a writing club?  Check out our tips here!)

Shakespeare

  • “To be or not to be.”
  • “Once more into the breach, my brethren, once more into the breach!”
  • “We know not what we are, but we know not what we may be.”
  • “Better three hours too soon, than a minute too late.”
  • I would challenge to a battle of wits, but I see you come unarmed!”
  • “For she had eyes and chose me.”
  • “though she be but little she is fierce!”

Studio C Quotes

  • “I’ll just say it! This is stupid!”
  • “I can’t do this anymore!”
  • “I would rather die!”
  • “Are we here to break his knees?”
  • “I am your angel of music.”
  • “I am right here!”
  • “Get a job. Brush your teeth. Murder is wrong.”
  • “Weak excuse!”

Random Prompts

  • Create a recipe for a good life.
  • Write your obituary.
  • Describe how to get to the Moon.
  • Describe the beach and the ocean to a blind person.
  • Pretend you are Beauty, meeting Beast for the first time.
  • Interview the person who invented fire.
  • Interview Hitler.
  • Introduce your Mother to George Washington and record the conversation.
  • You are a world-famous chef, cooking dinner for on a yacht for billionaires. What will you serve and how will you present your meal?
  • You have won a trip on the first commercial space flight. Tell us about your flight and your crewmates.
  • You have won a million dollars. You must spend all of it. Describe what you did with the money.

Fun Quotes

  • “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research!” -Einstein
  • “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” -Bruce Lee
  • “Wax on, wax off” -Karate Kid
  • “Thank you for making me a part of this!” -Muppet movie Xmas
  • “Our assets are frozen!” – Muppet Movie Xmas
  • “Who cares if you’re not the chosen one! You’ll do!” (NaNoWriMo)
  • “Elevators are awkward” Tim Hawkins
  • “It’s between two and three times greater than a normal week” Tim Hawkins

So now your students are all ready to write.  What do they need next?  Paper of course!  No worries, because we also have that covered.  Check out our FREE printable student journal that’s designed just with you in mind.  This printable comes with a wide variety of themes and can be customized to your needs.  Print all the pages that you need.  You can find it here.

We at True North Homeschool Academy love to make your life easier, so please let us know how we can help you!  You can contact us anytime.  We are here to help you succeed on your homeschool journey.

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