Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dancing In the Desert

Would you believe me if I told you that when I wrote my first novel, "To Dance In the Desert," I didn't exactly know what I was writing about?

You might believe it if you didn’t like the book.

Or if you did like it, but you’ve written one yourself, you might understand completely.

Or if you pay attention to the mysterious ways of God. If so, you weren’t surprised at the words Ariel brought us from Neil Gaiman.  Perhaps, like me, it comforted you to remember how often you’d reached for the words, and found them there waiting.

Ariel asked what our droughts looked like. Mine has been, for several years, a drought of words, brought on, at least in part, by the economic dryness we’ve all experienced.  The other ladies on this blog have suffered worse than I have, and by their friendship and example, have kept me from despair.  They have been Jane to me, the ones who showed  me how to dance.

Lately, I’ve sensed a turning, a small, first pirouette (it starts inside, where it doesn’t yet surprise the neighbors). It feels like a strange kind of joy, like a last kiss to the world we’ve lost, and a desire to assert myself into the new one, to explore it  for possibilities.

The turn manifested first in a desire to make a few changes of my own. I woke one morning resolved that all the wallpaper had to go. We’re still painting.

And for the next step – a sashay left? – I got myself a real, get-up-and-go-to-work job, and one I think I’ll love. It’s at a local non-profit that will allow free reign for all my flower-girl impulses toward service and community.

Then, just to buck the obvious assumption that I will now spend even less time writing, I’ve already begun a new regimen of getting up at dark-thirty, and going to the keyboard.  I’m pleased to say it’s going well.

Ariel mentioned Gaiman’s commencement speech, and I looked it up, and loved every word. As happens on YouTube, one video led to another  (Neil Gaiman on the Greg Ferguson Show) to another (Neil Gaiman talking about copyright and the web) to another (Neil Gaiman’s advice to new writers). If my husband hadn’t asked for spaghetti, I’d be there still.

But in the commencement speech, Gaiman had something to say about this new, strange world that made me pirouette again:

The rules, the assumptions, the now-we’re-supposed-to’s of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, they’re breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be, to get your work seen. YouTube ande the web and whatever comes after YouTube and the web can give you more people watching than old television ever did. The old rules are crumbling, and nobody knows what the new rules are. So make up your own rules. 

Look at that.  It only takes a little turn for the end to look like the beginning.

I'm proud of these ladies - of Sharon and her new novel, "Unraveled;" of Latayne and her courage and persistence; of Bonnie, forging her new paths in fiction; of Patti, diving into the creative process in brave new ways; of Debbie for proving that great stories can be written in small bits of time -  and of you - for striking out like Abraham for a promised land you haven't seen.

Have you made a pirouette lately? Do tell. We’d love to read what you have to say.

I’d better go make that spaghetti.


Megan Sayer said...

Katy this makes me smile SO much, and oh will you look at that...I'm spinning in my chair, which is almost a pirouette.
I understand this SOOOOO much. Especially the bit about...well, especially all of it, actually.
We are pirouetting in our house again, just a little - still on the inside, because we too are beginning to see the beginnings of the fulfilment of something rather enormous...but that is another story, and shall be told another time : )

Oh, and thank you SO much for posting early. One needs early Novel Matters on Wednesdays especially.
And CONGRATULATIONS again on your job. Hope you have a blast!

Megan Sayer said...

Oh, and I'm so excited that your writing is happening (I love dark-thirty. It's only half an hour after I get up, which is stupid o'clock). If I had any more energy I would do a happy dance for you. Instead I shall smile, and make a celebratory-like cup of tea.

V. Gingerich said...

I see your "small, first pirouette" all over this post, in the hope-thread running through it and in your clever phrases that I stopped to read thrice.

I've made a couple of tiny sashays myself lately, so tiny that those in the apartment below are not disturbed, but big enough that I had to scoot the table against the wall.

(We had spaghetti for lunch. I'm trying to find significance in that.)

Patti Hill said...

Oh, Katy, this post has made my heart sashay! I'm so very excited that you're writing again...and that the wallpaper is down. When next we meet...the sooner the better...we'll dance enough to worry the neighbors.

Cherry Odelberg said...

I like to dance! Dancing well is on my "bucket list."

Cherry Odelberg said...

P.S. Patti and Katy - come on over - I am sure the neighbors already worry about me..

Anonymous said...

You made me smile today, Katy, and get a little misty-eyed too. I can't tell you what it means to be on this journey with you and Bonnie and Debbie and Latayne and Patti. I see us, arms linked, forging ahead. Baby steps at times, but never in retreat. And we're pirouetting, arm-in-arm. Can you see us?

Bonnie Grove said...

We're proud of you, Katy.

We weary six, facing more giants then we believed could inhabit a land, face them together, climb up on each other's shoulders to form our own six-headed giant, large enough to stride across the topography, gentle enough to kiss the hands of anyone we come across.

When you dance, we accompany you on our heartstrings.

Bonnie Grove said...

Sharon, you have us arm in arm, I have us clamouring up on each other's shoulders.

We are a flexible lot.


Kathleen Popa said...

With six heads. My.

Kathleen Popa said...

(Will comment more soon, but must leave the house now.)

Kathleen Popa said...

Megan, I'm excited for your pirouette. I hope great things are happening for you.

Wanderer, I love that! Scooting your table against the wall.

Cherry, I just try not to dance like this:

Patti, Sharon and Bonnie - Mwah!

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Funny enough, earlier this week I was working on a little sketch comedy script for the children's program at my church ( can't beat that for volunteering in a church). My husband noticed that every once in awhile, I'd do a little booty shake (I, of course didn't realize it). Apparently, every time I wrote the lines for a particular character.

So, here in Susie-writing-land, we do a booty shake.

Really, though, I felt the happy writing dance the other day while working on a short story. It wasn't exactly what I wanted for it. However, I knew that the voice of the character would come into the story. The freedom to keep going, knowing that I'll come back and do the dance better the next time.

I love writing. And I really love the Novel Matters dance squad.

Kathleen Popa said...

Susie, you come join our dance squad with your booty shake. We'll scoot the table against the wall...

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Ah! You people are delightful. Bonnie, you have indeed kissed all the people here with life giving affection.
I have just come from a heartbreaking meeting. Me, who thought I'd done with heartbreak. This is the kind you are talking about, though. New beginnings. Partings that will bring heartier togetherings eventually. I'm going to dance with you 'cause it's better than weeping in the corner. I am so blessed by this community and by your post most especially, Katy.

Kathleen Popa said...

Henrietta, whatever it is, I'm so sorry. Please, yes - come dance with us. We can move the table out into the hall.

Marcia said...

Katie, never heard of Neil Gaiman before, but he does inspire. As I watched the video you posted just now, I gained a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Let go and enjoy the ride." Thanks for the wonderful reminder!

Here's to Abraham, starting out on a new journey but not knowing where he would end up. In August I took a four week, on-line course called "BookBreakThrough" and learned (among many things), how much writers need writers. How important it is to get out from under my rock and rub shoulders with others.

Painful advice for a cave dweller. But I'm trying to take it, trying to dance...

I've always prided myself on being graceful, but I think this may look more like a series of jerks than the pirouettes the rest of you are turning ;-).

For one of my first steps, I gathered my "skeleton" together and paid a best-selling professional to critique it. Big learning experience, which is still in process. But something new is happening. I'm being stretched in ways I've never been stretched before.


But good.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Thanks, Katy! God's fingerprints are all over this. It's not death or deep tragedy, only someone needing to leave and everybody wishing it didn't have to be that way. We will all be stronger in His grace.
But don't get rid of the table, we need to pile it high with food and drink.

Lynn Dean said...

Oh, my goodness! Kathleen, your post (and your prose) were wonderful!

And Neil Gailman's speech was wonderful.

I think I might be dancing a little on the inside, but my outside is inspired to sit still and write! :)

Sharon K. Souza said...

Flexible -- that's us, Bonnie!

Kathleen Popa said...

Marcia, I really heard what he was saying about enjoying the ride, too. It feels like a faith issue, to enjoy what's here to be enjoyed, without worrying whether it will go away or whether you can increase it.

I'm a cave dweller, too, but yes, writers need each other.

Henrietta, I'm glad it's not as tragic as I feared, and for God's fingerprints.

Lynn, thank you for the kind words. Dance on the paper. Make good art.

Sharon, six heads...