Writers have a reputation as reclusive introverts whose sensitive artists’ souls need solitude in order to create art, and okay, yes, this is absolutely true for me, as are many other stereotypes of writers like having a book buying addiction and a love of research and grammar memes. What is not often talked about, though, is that sometimes a sensitive artist needs to get off her butt and dance.
This past weekend, I was at the 15th annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Miami. I connected with old friends, made new ones, had a wonderful aha! moment in Lorin Oberweger‘s workshop about my current work in progress, and generally left all inspired to write, write, write. I’ve attended all 15, and the best part of every conference for me is always the Saturday night costumed dinner dance. Because costumes!
|Pictured here with the fabulous Steven Dos Santos and Linda Eadie|
|Here I am with the lovely Pascale Mackey.|
|Check out these Ducky Shincrackers (that means good dancers in 1940s slang): with Debbie Reed Fischer and Alex Flinn|
I’m not a particularly good dancer, but I am a very enthusiastic one—which confuses people and prompts them to tell me that I’m a good dancer when really what I’m good at is singing very loudly along with the music and jumping up and down. Enthusiastically.
In spite of the many hours of ballet, tap, jazz, hula, ballroom, swing, salsa, and belly dancing lessons I have taken in my life (thanks, parents!), when on a dance floor at something like, say the annual SCBWI Miami conference, it seems that something close to 70% of my moves were learned from the dance scene in The Breakfast Club, particularly Claire (played by the coolest girl of the 1980s and possibly of all time, Molly Ringwald).
Fully another 20% can be attributed to multiple viewings of Saturday Night Fever
And yet another 1 or 2% seems to be related to the years I spent studying sho-to-kan, which is actually a form of karate, not dance—these are perhaps dangerous movement genres to conflate.
Conferences, and writing, require a lot of sitting. They often involve eating and drinking. They hardly ever involve vigorous calorie burning. Dancing makes me feel like, yeah, bring on the cheesecake and I will indeed have another glass of wine without fear that my scale will explode tomorrow.
But the most important reason to dance is joy. Joy at being together with a tribe of writers; joy that I get to spend my time writing and talking about writing; joy that the setbacks along the way haven’t defeated me. On the dance floor, I don’t have to talk or remember names or listen (because boy is it hard for me to listen to a full day of speakers!). I can laugh and sing and bounce around, imagining that I look exactly like Molly Ringwald.
And dear Friends? If the truth is that I look more like this on the dance floor . . .
. . . please don’t tell me.