Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Importance of Trying

This morning the winner of the "That's a Pretty Good Excuse" Writing Retreat Scholarship was announced. It isn't me, but it IS a very talented individual who I suspect deserves the "retreat" aspect of the workshop much more than I do. According to the Writing Excuses website, "the quality of the applications was higher than expected, all across the board", which gives me reason to believe I can one day rise to the top of the slush pile in an agent's inbox. 

As I sit here trying not to over-analyse what kept my submission from being The One, I'm also getting over my most recent bout of writer's block. My current story knot is not the biggest one I've had to untangle, but for the last three days my eagerness/anxiousness to discover the contest results greatly hindered my ability to step back and look at the problem with an objective eye.

My word processor has a file labeled "Darlings", where I keep all the things I like that I had to kill because they weren't what was best for the story. During my scholarship preparations, a heavily revised Chapter Two became Chapter One. The old Chapter One went to the "Darlings" file, and it will stay there. Instead of letting it take up space on my hard drive, I could just delete it, but I like having my murdered darlings close, where I can occasionally look over them like I would a battle scar. They are a testament to my willingness to make changes and move on, even if it's painful and a lot of work. 

To get over my block, I realize I needed to do more than leave it alone and let my subconscious mull it over. I also needed to embrace that same fearlessness.

I touched on this in To Not Suck, One Must First Suck, but you know what They say, "Life is learning the same lesson over and over again."

Not gonna lie, I told myself repeatedly that I wasn't going to win, hoping the universe would prove me the liar like it often does. But the universe sees right through those mind games, and I knew it, so my soul isn't crushed at the news. Besides, I'm lucky enough to have an acquaintance who is attending the retreat, and they have graciously offered to take notes and share them with me, so I won't be completely missing out. In the meantime, there are plenty of things I can continue to improve on that are strictly a solo effort. 

I might not have been a winner, but I was try-er, and honestly, I think that's more important for me right now. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dancers, Dreams, and Dragons

It's been 2 years and 8 months since my last dance class. In June, it will be three years since my last recital.

Gone are the days when I could bend over and touch my toes whenever I pleased. Today, I needed a good 20 minute warm-up before I could put my hands flat on the floor again.

I can still hold an arabesque for ages, but I can't bring my leg half as high as I used to.

I have to think for a minute before I recall certain French ballet terms.

My splits and straddles are horri-bad now.

Let us forget that I could ever do a halfway decent ponche.

I don't practice triple pirouettes and side leaps when I'm alone in the aisles at work anymore.

I do tap in my sneakers when I'm standing at my register with nothing to do, or at home in my socks when I'm in front of the oven and the cookies are just about done.

The grace and rhythm I developed over the course of 12 years continues to be my best party trick. I am second to none at Dance Central, and my moves on the wedding reception dance floor are as bon-diggidy as ever. (Also, that's the first time I've ever had to spell that word.)

Quiet piano music still triggers my legs to assume one of the five basic positions.

I can't listen to any music at all when I write. The urge to choreograph is still too great.

My husband's eyes still glaze over when I start ranting about the "soulless, uninspired" routines of the dancers on TV. At least I'm not holding back jealous tears anymore.

That said, when I visited home back in December, I had to leave my old dance studio much sooner than I wanted to. Watching the Monday night ballet class go over the same combinations to the same songs just about killed me.

When I'm not doing the equivalent of pulling a former fiancee's ring out of a hidden compartment in my dresser drawer, like I did in December, I don't actually feel the pain that intensely anymore. I'm capable of looking back on it with humor and something that might one day be maturity as well.

The journey isn't over yet though. Dragons don't die easily, and this dance thing is a heckuva beastie. I can't just say it's all in the past and move on any more than a village can return to normal life when the Heroes stop the Dragon from burning crops and kidnapping virgins. New crops need to be planted, and ashes are a fine fertilizer. The virgin demographic needs to be restored to a proper level, so the Virtuous Knights ought to set about deflowering the Fair Maidens they rescued.

Yes, ridding the town of virgins is a curious solution to a lack of virgins, but it's also the only solution. True wisdom is found when one not just accepts, but embraces life's paradoxes!

To any concerned, I'm just taking a metaphor much farther than I should. I am not announcing a pregnancy.