Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Fricassee

You probably know, because I've mentioned it before, that I take ballet.  Last Friday, while walking down the hallway with one of my dancemates toward the studio, a woman standing in the hallway said to her little girl, "Look! They're dancers!"

The words went deep inside me.  I turned to my dancemate and said, "Did you just own that?"

It was an amazing moment.  Someone from the "outside" who saw me in my leotard and ballet shoes with my hair pulled back saw A DANCER.  She had no idea if dancing was my life, or if I was a not-eighteen-anymore, wish-I-were-a-ballerina woman taking a weekly class with other not-quite dancers.

I love my ballet classes SO MUCH--but I've never called myself a dancer.  Truth be told, it's not really what I am.  (Actually, it's almost laughable.)  But when I'm in that classroom, I'm dancing.  So that makes me a DANCER.

I tend to make apologies instead of just saying, YES I DANCE.  It's more like, "Oh, I take classes every week," or, "Yeah, it's a beginner class for adults."

But I probably need to change that.  I probably need to say I DANCE ON FRIDAYS.

So.  Do you own your writing-ness?  Do you say YES I WRITE?  Or do you say, "Oh, I'm working on a story at night," or, "I'm hoping to publish a novel some day" instead?

Because we can be beginners at something and still OWN THE THING.  Secretly, I aspire to advance to the intermediate level of ballet, and maybe even go en pointe.  Maybe I won't get there, but I still need to call myself a DANCER while I'm aspiring.


Something to chew on.  Because I love you.  (And I know you won't laugh at my fluffy little ballerina dreams.)

And now something to (hopefully) make you laugh.  Talented author and valuable critique partner Peter Salomon decided that my writing examples from yesterday's post on car crash openings were worthy of his attention.

And so I give you Peter's MASH-UP OF AUTHORESS'S WRITING EXAMPLES.  (If you haven't read the original post, read it now.  Or you won't see Peter's cleverness at work here!)

I raise my head from the dust, the metallic zing of blood in my mouth. Even this small motion brings sharp pain, and I groan as I try to rise. I fail. Cheek pressed against the cold earth, I close my eyes and try to remember why I'm here. Vague memories of acrid smoke and sharp metal assault my brain, but nothing makes sense.

I reach for my iPhone as the car skids to the right. Gasping, I brace my arms on the dashboard. In the next instant, the world blurs. Dana screams as she frantically tries to regain control of the car, and I go numb. With sickening suddenness, the motion stops, and there is nothing but glass, thousands of tiny shards, everywhere. Glass, and the scent of gas. Glass, and sharp pain whenever I try to breathe.

Dana touches the molten glass with one tentative finger. The c'vku in the air glows, hissing more loudly the longer she stays in contact. She closes her eyes, trying to remember what step twelve was, when the floors and wall begin to vibrate, the pitch growing higher as the vibrations increase.

Too late! She began the Weaning Declaration too late!

The pain in my legs is unbearable. I try to move first one, then the other. But each movement, no matter how small, wracks me with pain. Slowly, I lie back and force myself to breath slowly, deeply. Then, as the pain subsides a little, I try again to move myself into a sitting position. Pressing my hands against the floor, I throw my weight into my shoulders and try to pull myself backward.

Dead crows--thousands of them--fall from the ceiling as Dana screams, clawing her way toward the holy portal, the molten glass stuck to her finger. The universe tips, spilling her north, then south, then in directions she can't keep track of. When the scent of lava pushes its way up her nostrils, she knows that her failure is complete.

That's when I see the bone protruding from my left shin.


  1. I remember a cool moment when a friend I've know through work (internet tech support) for years, introduced me to his new girlfriend as "This is Lindsay, she's a writer." Don't remember exactly when I started thinking of myself that way, but I definitely have.

    My husband now gets to go around bragging that his wife's a pilot now though, and that, like your dancing, is also wrapped pretty deeply in my sense of self identity now.

  2. I enjoyed this post.

    I feel like I'm a writer even though I'm not published and I don't always think of it as 'I need to publish a book to be a writer.' I think part of being something like a writer or a dancer comes from the devotion you have for the art. I remember from the movie 'Sister Act 2' one of the characters said something about how if you wake up and all you can think about is writing then you're a writer. Or if all you can think about is singing then you're a singer.

    Thanks for the inspiring post. Have a nice weekend.

  3. I have a really hard time saying I'm a writer. Because everyone I know (including myself) is involved with horses (I also train horses and compete in endurance). So when I say I'm a writer, they hear I'm a rider, and they look at me strange cuz they already knew that.
    I must work on rephrasing!

  4. On the dancing front, I've been taking dance fitness classes at my gym for awhile; they are hip-hop influenced, and I also do some Zumba. I love that for the hour I am there, I am a dancer. There are hardcore regulars at each of these classes and the teachers are so good and make you feel like you're training to back up Beyonce. I'd get laughed off an audition stage, but I love the feeling while I'm there!

  5. GSMarlene - That sounds familiar! I've been a writer since I was a kid, but I also used to be a serious equestrian, and I ran into the same problem -- if I said anything about being a writer around horse people, they usually misheard it as 'rider'!

    In any case, I can't really remember when I didn't think of myself as a writer, since I was always dreaming up stories, and I started my first novel at eleven. But although I did take ballet classes for a short time in my teens, I never thought of myself as a dancer, because I knew I wasn't very good at it!

    I also wanted to say that Peter's mash-up is hysterical! :D

  6. This is such a great story (calling you a dancer). Thanks for posting and being awesome. I agree that we need to own these moments. We're too quick to cut ourselves down. Yes, we can have more than one talent and we can follow more than one dream! I don't know where we got the idea that people are designed to do only one thing all their lives and be known for only that thing.

    I feel like this when I get called 'teacher' by my little art class - especially when their mothers treat me like I'm a 'real' teacher. I don't know if I want to make teaching a serious thing yet (I'm already a library clerk), but I love doing it on this small scale.

    Love the mashup!

  7. Love the Mashup! And I am nearing the tail end of my thirties, I find myself "Owning" lots more things than I would have had the guts to a decade ago.

    I am a singer. I am a writer. I fence (swords). I sign (ASL). I mother five sons. The only one of those I do "full-time" is the mothering gig...and the housekeeping that goes with it. But that doesn't take away from the other passions that I have and enjoy.

  8. It makes me think of how Brian Jacques (of the Redwall books) would say about people asking how he decided to be an author, or how they wanted to be an author one day. He said he didn't wake up and think "One day I will be an author, and I shall auth and auth and auth" - he said just do it and that's how you become a writer. I try to keep that in mind, but sometimes it's habit to say "I'm an aspiring writer".