So hopefully that got your attention !
I've had this site for a few years now, but I have been finding it hard to write about writing. Four or five times I have logged on, stated typing and then my post has turned into a dance post. Somehow I think its easier to talk about my dance rather than my writing. Maybe cos I have been dancing for 24 years or maybe its because my mission in life is to share dance with others.
I know some of you have been following the course of my third book for the last two years...random Tweets and FB posts with number counts and other frustrations.
Writing is actually hard. No one tells you that. People say "I'd like to write a book" and now I look at those people just the same as the people who say "I have a belly" when you tell them you belly dance. There is only one way to write a book. You have to sit in front of the keyboard and write stuff. Lots of stuff. Almost every day. And spend every other hour thinking of stuff to write. Then you get to read your stuff and its rubbish so you bin it and start again. Every month you have to spell check. You may notice spelling is not my thing - oh and I grew up spelling in English and now write in American (You don't think its a big deal until you try and translate). And spell checking and formatting is boring. And you discover you start every sentence with And. And you get to the point where you cant spell. Or construct a sentence. Or anything.
So, what many people don't know is that I have a novel that I am sitting on. Every year I read it, make some changes and then put it away to work on more dance writing. My first few readers (friends and family) have told me to keep on it, that it is nearly ready, that it could be good. But I'm not ready to share with the wider world. Its not perfect. It is too raw and too close to me.
When I first started dancing I was very self conscious. I couldn't stand dancing in front of others, their eyes on me, watching the bounce of fat or the ugly dance moves. I took a course in "Stripping without the stripping" from the famous Jo King. It changed my life. I understood what others see when they look at me. How I move and flow. I also saw how lucky I was to get to wear a costume, no matter how tiny. Jo can ( and does) control a whole room of drunken men even when naked, she reads who is getting out of hand and who to focus on to get the others on her side. And if she can do it, so can I. When I dance I know that I own the room, that my movements are beautiful and that I am elegant and sensual and admired.
People who have read my books say that they hear it with my voice. I guess that is no surprise. While my novel is a work of fiction it is also a glance into my inner dreams, hopes and fantasies. And yes it has rude bits. I didn't write it for others to read. I wrote it because the story kept getting bigger and bigger and I wanted to know the end. I fell in love with the characters and I wanted to know more about them. I wanted to follow them down the street and ask them why they did what they did, why they loved the unlovable or slept with the wrong people. I wanted to watch them drink coffee. But its not a book unless others read it. Its not a story unless its told. Just in the same way as I put a lot of emotion into my dancing, but its not a performance unless someone is watching. And so at some point other people will have to read my novel. Every now and then I remember this, pull my jumper up over my head and blush.
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer.
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