If ever we’re out and we pass a mermaid my son Otto will immediately say, “Mom, you need to get this so you’ll finish your book!” I smile and answer, “Maybe” or “Not today,” because how many mermaids do you really need?
In November, I started and completed my first NaNoWriMo challenge (that’s National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write 50,000 words in one month and end up with the first draft of a novel. I wrote over 50,000 words, but didn’t finish my novel.
I’m about halfway through the storyline, though I definitely jumped around when inspiration took root. I’m expecting my first draft to be around 100,000 words, which would be considered quite long for a first novel. I know they’re be precious favorites to cut and plenty of blahblahblah’s to refine. (No, seriously. Some of that word count is “blahblahblah” or “insert exposition here.”)
But I’m happy that every time Otto sees a mermaid he’s compelled to tell me to finish my novel. When I first started NaNoWriMo I told the kids it would be extra work for me that I’d need to have uninterrupted time to write and asked if they’d remember to encourage me to write. Otto, specifically, reminds me to write and that I need to “finish your story.”
It can be hard as a mother to dedicate time to something that doesn’t feel like it will benefit your kids. Writing has been life-giving to me. It releases tension, exposes areas of my heart and mind, gives room for inspiration and new ideas, but writing has not always felt necessary. (This is a huge topic on its own…one day.)
Writing, or pursuing any creative endeavor, can feel superfluous. Fun, encouraging, life-giving, beautiful, but not necessary to the daily living. Especially when I consider I’m writing a fantasy novel about Greek mythology and mermaids. It’s not explicitly Kingdom work or contributing an answer to some major conundrum that would better people’s lives. It will ask and answer questions of its own, but on the outside it looks like a big endeavor with little real life, eternal impact.
That’d be easy enough to believe. And at times, I do fall into the shadows of “why does it matter” with a helping of “it’s a waste of time.” But in the end, I write because I don’t believe that. If it didn’t matter the words wouldn’t take root in me. There’s worth in beauty, in my children seeing me work toward a goal, in recognizing that eternal work looks many different ways. Art is not unimportant, no matter how many people say so. (That’s a novel in and of itself.)
We’re a story family, a gospel family. The gospel is the greatest story of all time. Every story written in song, on the pages, and our very own lives has some threads of the gospel. There’s not a soul alive who doesn’t live on the continuum of the eternal narrative. So, yes, while mermaids, Greek gods and goddesses, the Byzantine navy, and the island of Samos may seem unimportant to today, even they can speak something of eternity. You’ll just have to wait and see what that is.
I’ll gladly take Otto with his mermaid reminders as a gift and a gesture to finish the story.