We work for chocolate, the kids and I, and this week the job was judging drawing and story entries for our local library's Book Week competition.
There were a hundred or so entries from K-6. Judging the drawings wasn't too tough. Plenty of freedom and imagination and rainbow coloured crayon. The longer the children had been schooled, however, and the more prescriptive a classroom teacher had been, the less impressive the entries became. One or two of the students were natural writers, with a talent for enlivening even the dullest of prompts. As for the others, a faint sense of drudgery and - even worse - of a calculation as to what an adult teacher/librarian/judge might 'want' - hovered over their entries.
I can't say for sure how much each writer enjoyed the process, but in most cases, that joy certainly didn't make itself evident to the reader.
This week my non-writer has been writing. Seized with a sudden desire to write his own Doctor Who book, he's been at the computer for hours each day, the weekend included. Yes, his spelling leaves a little to be desired. Yes, our lack of punctuation lessons is showing. But, oh, the pleasure! The delight with which he announces Chapter Nine is now ready for reading! That's what creative writing is about, the living process of making, of wrestling words into a pattern that pleases you, of giving over your days, when the spirit moves you, to work.
He isn't writing for a prize. He isn't writing to please me. He has no anxiety about his spelling or his typing or his choice of subject. He's writing solely because "it's so much fun!"
I am so incredibly grateful that he's here at home, building for hours when that's what he needs, embracing a new challenge when the time is right, when the imagination is ready to take off to another galaxy, just like the Tardis.