Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers
I just hate it when someone speaks about writing or dancing as if they know what it really entails when, in fact, they don’t have a dang clue!!
I have met people in my life who are so clueless about artists that they think they know everything about them! Know what I mean? They sprout such nonsense, and speak such lies with straight-faced confidence, heck, I’m almost convinced they know what they’re talking about!
As a young kid and later a teenager, already firmly established in my dancing and with complete understanding of how much hard work it entailed, and I told new friends and their parents what I did, my pet peeve was when they asked me to please show them something. “You know, do a twirl or something,” they’d twang, and I’d cringe inside and brim with annoyance, but I’d just smile and (with as little sarcasm as possible) tell them it was impossible because I didn’t have any space. I mean, did they really expect me to do grand jetés (split leaps) and pirouettes (turns) in a room full of furniture and break my neck? Yup!!
I know someone who recently told my husband – who knows very well that I danced professionally – that all it takes to be a dancer is to move your body to music, and that it didn’t require any special skill or much work, whereas professional rugby and cricket took years of dedication and immense skill, talent, and training. Now, only one of those statements is true, and as to the other, well, it showed how utterly ignorant the man was about what it takes to be an artist, and that he thought that sport and dancing didn’t compare. According to him, dancing can never be taken seriously while sport was a god to be worshipped! (My biased interpretation ) That dance is called a sport by some infuriates me to no end! Yes, a dancer is an athlete in regards to physical exertion, but that’s where the one and only comparison ends!
Now, if I had been present, firstly, he wouldn’t have dared say something like that (I can be snarky when I get defensive!) and, secondly, I would have given him a very sharp lecture on exactly what it took to become a professional dancer – the long hours everyday of your life; sacrificing parties, holidays, and other social events to do exams, festivals, competitions, and spend more time in the studio learning how to control your body (in a way that is completely unnatural to the way the human form is put together); the physical pain and bleeding feet and pulled muscles and swollen joints; the disappointments and failures before the winnings and successes; the never-ending commitment because missing one week of dancing was like losing an entire month of training!! I could go on and on, and I would’ve eventually had him on his knees begging for my forgiveness before I’d finished with him!
Okay, so this is my explanation regarding dance. It is NOT an anti-sport statement because I LOVE sport and watch the Olympics with as much fervour as anyone else. This is an earnest comparison; you, dear reader, can draw your own conclusions:
Yes, I understand that sport also takes heaps of commitment, especially if one wants to do it professionally, BUT training to become a professional dancer begins the day you walk into a studio at around three years old; kids with aspirations and talent to become professional sportsmen/sportswomen only begin serious training when they’re teenagers, and then the training they do only requires them to train what their bodies can already do naturally. (What follows includes sports like gymnastics, tumbling, ice-skating – anything that can be linked to dance and that requires artistry) With ballet everything you do is beyond the norm for the body: turn-out; spinal rotation beyond the norm of the human spine; co-ordination of the entire body while moving to music; listening to phrasing; interpreting the music; facial expression and performance; acting; spatial awareness; correct weight placement; elevation with stretched legs and feet while holding the body still in the air and expressing perfect line, style, and quality; flexibility (WAY beyond the natural uses of the human body, not required in sport); strength to elevate the legs, these days, to almost a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree angle to the floor; arched feet (the girls have to train to balance and turn en pointe for years – and professionals will tell you, the training for that never stops!); perfect balance – these are but some of the requirements for a dancer. Tell me where a sportsman or woman has to do all these things SIMULTANEOUSLY everyday of their lives?
I recently read a blog by a mom who is a serious writer with a firm goal to one day earn a living as a novelist. She is already a journalist and does a lot of other writing jobs when she isn’t working on her novel. But being a mom requires her full attention, and as a result of her working at home her kids think she does nothing all day but sit at home, then only leaves to fetch them from school and take them to extra-mural sporty activities. They even write on their school forms that she’s a ‘stay-at-home-mom’ because they don’t think that writing is a job. Her solution? To treat her writing like it is one – leave the house at 9am, go somewhere like a library or a coffee shop or somewhere quiet to write, then return home at 5pm. She discovered it was the only way she could find the time to get done what she needed to, and get it through to her kids that what she did was serious work, and that when she worked then she was off-limits, so to speak.
In short, I found this story very sad, and it brought out all the feelings of frustration and, yes, even anger that I earlier expressed. What is it with the ‘normal’ world that doesn’t get us? Why is it so difficult for them to see us as creators and designers and artists, something that they could never be because they were gifted with other skills that do not require out-of-the-box thinking?
As artists we are borderless and limitless. We are visionaries and dreamers, and we only live on this earth because the laws of physics say we have to (for now, anyway!!). If we had a choice we would rush at the chance to explore the Universe – inside us and out there – without fear because we believe that dreams are more important for our continued survival as creator-beings and for earth and it’s inhabitants to evolve!
The kind of people I mentioned above – the ones that think dreaming and allowing magic to lead us and dictate how we should approach and live our lives is rubbish – do not understand that without us dreamers and visionaries they wouldn’t have music and movies and art and dance and design and technology and, when you get right down to it, without us they wouldn’t see any progress as the human race. In their blind arrogance (which is simply ignorance) they think they can have everything in their lives without us. But if they just stopped and looked, and took the time to understand what it takes to write a story that came from a place us authors could never explain; to understand what it takes for a dancer to be so magnificent in her performance that it brings tears to an observer’s eyes and makes it difficult to breathe; to understand that an artist can paint something so beautiful that it can render its observer immobile for hours because of its power and beauty; to understand that a piece of music can make grown men cry and can turn a five-year old into one of the most brilliant composers of all time (Mozart)!
I admit, this post is a bit of a rant, but, as with just about all my posts, I believe my goal as a blogger and an author is to inspire you, dear reader and writer, to never, ever think of yourself as anything less than your partner who has a ‘real’ job and cannot understand your obsession with writing, or your kids that do sport and can’t understand why you spend so much time writing when you don’t earn anything for it, or your friends who have boring, uneventful, safe desk jobs and who can’t understand that you would give up parties and social events to spend more time tweaking your novel so that it can be ready for publication in a few weeks.
Be proud, is what I’m saying, for without you they would not know magic! They would never even be aware of its existence!
You are an artist! You are Magic incarnate! Keep producing and keep conjuring your masterpieces and being the creator-being you were meant to be. Teach those that do not understand, that do not get it, how much work and skill and talent and dedication it takes to be good at what you do, and that even if they don’t see the results – or as in the case of this man who didn’t have a clue about what being a brilliant dancer was all about – it doesn’t mean that those results are not there, it just means that these people don’t know what good or brilliant is! Or even what art is, for that matter! They don’t understand the power or joy or reverence or exuberance writing brings you. Perhaps just be a little more patient in your explanations than I would have been with that clueless man; after all, I am quite cheeky when I want to be And now that I am a writer I feel it is my duty to defend us authors against those that scorn and misunderstand us, just as much as I continue to defend dancers who have a reputation for being stupid and uneducated!
Please leave a comment! I love hearing from you! And you can rant all you like – against or for!!