Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dancing with the Words

NOTICE: the April 18 meeting has been canceled due to inclement weather. 

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I love Dancing with the Stars. It's one of my guilty pleasures. The couples elegantly dip and sway, spin and turn, and glide across the floor--or gyrate across the floor, doing things I couldn't do even when I was young enough to do them. It makes me wistful with the longing to dance like they do.
But it isn't just the beautiful, effortless dancing that draws me in. It's the behind-the-scenes clips of the work involved in making the dance beautiful and effortless.
In some room somewhere, with windows along one wall, and a barre mounted to a mirror along the other, these men and women sweat, fall, curse, cry, get up, and start all over again. They're dressed in their scrubbiest clothes, sometimes in their dance shoes, sometimes in street shoes. The women don't have makeup on and their hair is usually pulled carelessly out of the way.
And they work. Do the same steps over and over until they get them right. String the steps together into the components of the choreography, stream those components into the dance itself, and practice. And practice, and practice.
Often, sixty hours a week go in to making one three-minute performance look easy, like anyone can jump from the sofa and dip and sway and gyrate, just like they do on TV.
But of course, they can't.
Any form of art takes work and practice, which is why it always strikes me as funny when someone says they're going to sit down and write a book and "become a famous author!"
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes. In some room somewhere, with or without windows, with or without a mirror, authors study and write and edit and rewrite. All so the book the reader holds in his hands can seem like an effortless flow of words into a gripping story--like anyone can jump up from the sofa and write a story just like it.
The more I've learned about what goes in to "good" writing, the harder it has become. Whenever I feel I've mastered some aspect, I'm challenged with another. What goes in to writing a novel is no easier than what goes in to that Monday night performance. They both take work.




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