Wednesday, May 7, 2014
IWSG: Ballroom Dance Lessons and Writing
During the month of April (and all the A to Z crazy) I joined a dance studio that teaches ballroom dancing. You might be scratching your head trying to figure out how that relates to writing, insecure or otherwise. Let me tell you...
I learned fairly quickly that I have a good sense of rhythm and I follow the lead fairly well. Since I can't afford daily, or even weekly, private lessons that means I have one private lesson for one hour a month. And the rest of the time I participate in Group Classes. They might be teaching dances in which I have a keen interest... and they might not. Thus far, the classes I have attended focused mostly on waltz and east coast swing. I really like both, though they are vastly different from one another. Last night I went to my first Mambo class. It reminds me very much of salsa. The instructor said it was like salsa with cha cha in some way (expression, movement, Manzi can you help with this ???) Since I don't know much about cha cha the explanation was lost on me.
I had my Private Lesson last week.... Oy. We focused on waltz and determining how well I retained what I learned in Group Class. I learned that following isn't as easy as I thought. An underarm turn can go several different ways and I have to know where by monitoring his shoulder tension. Say what??? Yep. I should be able to determine by his shoulder if I am to come all the way around or he will meet me halfway. But wait... it gets worse. Based upon where his hands are at the halfway meet indicates what he has planned next. Once again, this can go two different ways. I can't tell you how many times I thought we were going to meet halfway, but he wanted me to come all the way around and I finished at the halfway meet point. Meanwhile, he was standing to my right (where I should have been). Or I thought I was going all the way around and I crashed into him at the halfway point.
What does this have to do with my writing insecurity?
I was spotty with editing/revising on my WiP in April. Honestly, I wasn't able to juggle the A to Zing with my book (and now dance class) very well. But, when I did sit down and work on it... it felt a whole lot like that waltz session. Turns out that feeling the pace of the plot is similar to that shoulder tension. It is subtle, but it determines everything. Sometimes I follow it well and the pacing is great. Other times, not so much and it reads like a crash or the reader feels lost in the middle of the dance.
The same goes for my characters. I really like some of the choices that I made. That is when the dance feels really good. You are on the beat. There is a perfect amount of flex in your knees. You move up on your toes and down again and the whole thing is just So.Damn.Graceful. you want to cry with the loveliness of it. Yeah, that is how a waltz should make you feel. It is big and sweeping and elegant and glorious. And then there are those character choices that feel clunky. Out of time. You step with your right foot when you should have used the left.
There is good news and bad news with dancing. The good news is that you only get better with practice. The bad news is that you only get better with practice. Yeah, it was the same news.. That is it. There is no magic wand that turns you into a wonderful dancer. Dang!!!! The same truth applies to writing. You only get better with practice. I have noticed that as I move further into my novel the writing is improving. I red penned like crazy in the first seven chapters. Some pages were so marked that very little survived the "hack." With each chapter, there is less Red Pen.
Aha, there is hope! I have been writing much longer than I have been dancing. And reading longer than that. I might actually become proficient at the writing thing before I die of old age. Not so sure about the dancing... but I am going to stick with it. Practice makes perfect!
This is part of the IWSG, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you would like to join in the first Wednesday of every month and share your writing insecurities click HERE. The purpose of this group is to offer encouragement. If you don't want to share, but do want to support struggling writers... bless you.