DANCING WITH WORDS
People who put together program books for writer’s conventions, or the “About the Authors” sections of anthologies, or reporters conducting an interview, often ask me “Tell us who you are in 150 words.”
My first reaction is to say I am a writer, not just because that is how I make a living, but because I write, even if I’m not getting paid. I write through joy and pain. Characters speak to me and drive me insane if I do not tell their story. I write.
My second thought is that I am a dancer. For me dance is more than a hobby or form of exercise. It is a part of me. From the age of 7 many of the important moments in my life are surrounded by dance. I pour my emotions onto the dance floor and dance through them until they form a pattern and make sense again.
I started with ballet because a pediatrician suggested dance classes would strengthen my ankles and keep them from pronating. I became addicted by the end of my first class.
Through many moves around the country, changes in schools, shifting friendships, I danced. In high school and college I performed with a semi-pro ballet company. Then I started my family and I turned to teaching. Dance became as much a part of who I am as the color of my eyes and hair, my height, and my style of clothes.
Then I broke my ankle, badly. I spent the next twenty years grieving for the loss of dance in my life. That’s the only way to describe my recovery from a devastating accident. Grief.
Then a dance studio opened ½ mile from my house. I signed up for classes as both student and teacher and I came alive again. I added tap, jazz, and contemporary to my repertoire. I soared once more. The studio folded but I have continued dancing with an informal country line dancing group. They keep me moving and therefore sane.
Dance competitions on television are mandatory watching in my house. I imagine how I would perform each and every dance, how I would extend my leg and point my toe, how to complete the movement of my arms down to the last finger flick.
That sparked an idea. And of course I can’t leave a story alone. I have to dig deeply into every character’s back story. They hide skeletons from me. They mask paranormal talents from themselves. And then they pour it all onto the dance floor and leave it up to me to dance through them until I see a pattern and make sense of the story.
And thus was born a cozy paranormal book I call Confessions of a Ballroom Diva.