Faith and David said some really wonderful things about our con experience last weekend and I’m in complete agreement. I, like Catie, am more of an extrovert, so being out among other people can be energizing for me. Then again, I can only handle so much smiling and chatting before I become snappy and unpleasant and in desperate need of cave time. I suffer the same thing after a weekend of dancing at the Renaissance faire. Other people want to go out for dinner, but all I want to do is go home and crash for a while. That’s not the only way dancing and writing are similar.

On Sunday afternoon, I taught a beginner bellydance class at the con. Faith was kind enough to bring her gorgeous stash of hip scarves to share, and soon I was standing in front of half a dozen ladies, all watching me expectantly. I began breaking down the easiest movements, trying to show them how to make their bodies move in the same way mine was. One of the ladies complained that she couldn’t do a move the way I did, that it only worked on her in a slightly different way. I assured her that was fine – there’s a movement called the Corkscrew that I’ve never been able to perform “correctly”. My teacher says I do the Misty Corkscrew, and it’s perfectly all right for me to dance it my way. The neat thing about belly dance is that once you understand the fundamentals, you can translate the moves into your own performance.

Writing is the same way. We spent a lot of time at the con telling people whether we were planners or pantsers, how much time we spent each day writing and what time of day we did that writing, and whether we used computers or legal pads. But when it all comes down, everyone’s process is different, and no one’s process is wrong. The one thing we must do is understand the fundamentals. In dance, the movements are the fundamentals, and the only way to combine them into a smooth and lovely expression is to know each movement intimately. The fundamentals of language are the foundation on which you build a good novel. Use correct grammar and spelling, expand your vocabulary enough to know you’re using the right words – all that stuff you’ve heard a million times. Once you’ve got the fundamentals down, it doesn’t matter anymore whether you’re a planner or a pantser or whatever kind of writer you decide you are. All that matters is that you build something extraordinary in your own fabulous way.

Tomorrow we’ll be featuring Tiffany Trent, author of the acclaimed Hallowmere series, as our special guest – please come by and see what she has to say!


4 comments to Parallels

  • Misty, the dance class was great! One of the best parts was watching Misty deal with the gawker-wannabees. Guys, natch.

    They’d open the door and peer in, and Misty would say, “No watching. If you want to be in here, you have to put on a pretty hip scarf and dance.” No takers!

    Another way that dancing and writing are similar is that if you stop dancing your skill level drops quickly. Ditto for writing. I haven’t danced in nearly 2 years and I had lost my shimmy and my snake arms and parts of everything else. I felt like a monkey on crack dancing. LOL. That is why most writers say they write every day (whether they do or not). They want to make sure their brains stay sharp and fresh and ready to write and that the skills they have learned are still there.
    Speaking of which — writing time!

  • What I think is cool is that we here at MW have, at various times, compared writing to making music, to painting, to photography, to dancing, to work on the stage. The fact is that there are similarities linking all the arts. I won’t bother enumerating them here — any of you could come up with a list of similarities that would probably be more complete than mine. But your post is a great reminder, Misty, that creativity in all its forms requires constant attention, practice and dedication. It requires that we stop gawking and get off our butts and do it (even if doing it for writers means getting back ON our butts in that chair….) Thanks for a nice post.

  • I like hearing about your Con experiences and your adventures in publishing. Keep the posts coming.

    In addition, I posted a picture of Mad Kestral on my LJ. It was on display at Chapters Bookstore in Regina, SK, Canada. I took the pic last week on vacation. I also snagged pics of Catie and David’s books. Alas, they had none of Faith’s on display, and I can only surmise that they sold out and are restocking.

    Keep up the great posts! Thanks for sharing.

  • Beatriz

    Misty, thanks for this post and the comments you made in the dance class at the con.

    I’ve always understood that writing, once you have the basics, is very individualistic.

    It wasn’t until I read this post that I had the Ah Ha moment– dance is the same way. I may not do it the way you or Faith, but that’s not the point. I do it the way *I* do it.

    ~great big grin~

    Thanks for that!