Guest post by Angie Fraser
Although The One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) is designed for high school students, we also have many adult students—some college-age, but others who write in the midst of parenting and jobs outside of the home. Angie, in New Zealand, has the distinction of being both the mother of OYAN students and an OYANer herself. We asked her to tell us about what it’s like writing a novel as a mom and home-educator.
I open Other Worlds, the science fiction and fantasy companion to The One Year Adventure Novel. How are the people of your world different from people in the real world? Physically? Emotionally? Intellectually? the workbook asks.
The Blue People live in the heart of Terra Raania, a dense and mysterious rainforest sprawling over thousands of miles. They are not blue like the sky or blue like the sea, but the purple-blue of a morning glory flower.
Daughter One comes up behind and reads over my shoulder. “In Avatar, the people are blue. Why don’t you make your people red? Or green?”
“I haven’t even seen Avatar,” I reply indignantly. “My people are blue. Have you done the dishes yet?”
“Not yet. When are you going to be off the computer? I have to urgently Facebook Jess.”
“Go and do the dishes, please.”
Daughter One exits. I stare at the screen but I can feel her scowl.
“Mum, can you tell Ashleigh to help me put the washing out?” Daughter Three calls from outside.
Obediently, I yell back: “Ashleigh, go and help Holly with the washing, please.”
Back to Other Worlds. How is the government of your world shaped by its otherness?
Daughters Two and Three appear simultaneously. Uh-oh.
“Who votes we should have ice cream?” Two sets of hands wave in the air like flags.
I have to grin. “Sorry, not today. This is not a democracy. In fact this is a tyranny. ”
“Who votes it should be democracy?” The flag-hands wave again but I shake my head. Their shoulders slump as they walk out.
“Oh, all right then….but just a little one…” They cheer. I return to Terra Raania.
So…..will I have a democracy or a tyranny? A tyranny, I think. With a really cool resistance movement. I begin brainstorming a character.
“Mum, can you tell Holly to help me clean the guinea pig cage?”
My mind clings on to the Blue Person’s wrists so that she won’t evaporate entirely before I can write more about her.
With an edge to my voice, I command Daughter Three to help Daughter Two. Now.
I descend back into the world of the Blue People. An earth-shattering scream from outside pulls me out again.
“Mum, can you tell Ashleigh to stop kicking me?”
I look my Blue Person in the eye. Just wait there, I’ll be back in a second. I grind my teeth and make my way to the crime scene.
Just as I arrive, Daughter Three delivers a swift kick to her sister’s haunches. I grab her by the shoulders and eyeball her. In a loud voice I deliver a speech about how violence is never acceptable in this house. I tell her that I am trying to write and can’t she keep her hands and feet to herself for half an hour, for heaven’s sake. I command the girls to separate. They may not talk to each other. In fact they may not even look at each other. Do they understand?
I stomp back down the hall. On the way I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I look like I’ve burst a blood vessel. I close the door behind me, not very quietly.
Seconds later the door is flung open. Daughter One saunters in. “Mum, do you think I should put my hair up like this? Or like this?” Various hairstyles are demonstrated.
With considerable irritation, I point out that the door was closed for a reason, and couldn’t she have waited until I had finished?
She glares at me and stalks out. Heavy footsteps pound up the hall. I look at the clock. Oh no.
A handsome man walks in and kisses me. “So what’s for dinner? I’m starving.”
He peers over my shoulder and reads about the Blue People. “Avatar had blue people. Why don’t you make them another colour?”
So why do I persist in trying to write? Am I stupid to try to find time to write when I have other priorities as wife, mother, and home-educator?
It is because I see the power of the Story-Tellers.
The Story-Tellers have shaped our cultures and taught our children how to speak, how to behave, how to conduct their relationships. Their messages are packaged in apparently benign entertainment but are pervasive enough to penetrate minds and change the course of lives; you see it everywhere you turn. Yes, the Story-Tellers are that powerful.
This has all become very personal since I’ve had children…because, now, it is the people I love who are being influenced by the books and the movies. I see innocence lost and hearts diverted from the truth. It hurts me terribly.
But when I lose heart, I remind myself there is a King who has other plans for the Story-Tellers. He is calling Story-Tellers to consolidate their connection with Him (pray), and to cooperate with Him (follow the leading by His Spirit), so He can release His stories to a suffering world. His stories have great purpose: to unveil the mysteries of His Kingdom, to reveal the King Himself in some way, or perhaps to expose evil in the light of truth.
I get so excited by what Daniel and Carrol Schwabauer—“Mr. and Mrs. S.”—are doing through The One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN). If you OYANers are not those Story-Tellers, then I don’t know who is. The King has invested His gift of story-telling in us. We must steward it well.
As for me, I long to walk closely with the King, to listen for His whispers, and to try to write them down. I have already seen that when I am faithful to pray over my writing, He can touch hearts through it.
I’m not a Tolkien or a Lewis, but I believe the King can take my loaves and fish and do something amazing with them.
Even if there are already Blue People in Avatar.
Angie Fraser is a teensy weensy bit older than your typical OYANer. She lives with her husband and three daughters in New Zealand, land of the desolating dragon and the breathtaking scenery. (In truth, where they live, suburbia obscures the views.) About a year ago, she completed the OYAN curriculum and fulfilled her lifelong dream to write a novel. Angie currently homeschools two of her daughters and tries to stuff writing into cracks of spare time during the day. This piece was written at 3:00am because there were no cracks.