this post was written in response to a prompt for a writing 200 class at George Fox University.
I spent seven years being taught how to infuse my movements with grace, wrapping satin ribbons around tired ankles and learning the delicate interplay of body and space. On its worst days, we called it dance. On its best, it was something divine. But that’s a story for another day.
That back studio, the large one with the sky-stretching mirrors, that’s where the drafting happens. The authors, swan-like, scrawl their intricate stories across the floor, trace sections over and over until it is second nature to them. This is an introspective study, one in which onlookers are, by default, outsiders – simply because they are not on that floor, too.
The stage is the final published work, with its sweeping curtains and paneled floors. But it’s not about location. Strip away the lights, the costumes, the makeup, simplify it to just the dancers and their movements and still, there is a world of difference between this performance and their in-studio drafting. It’s in the serene smiles, the eyes sweeping the audience, the inviting arms: be a part of our story.
This is the power of audience and the voice that we address it with. We can be distant and lovely, awe-inspiring but unattached, or we can invite our readers in. I suppose it boils down to how we – the authors, the dancers in this intricate, graceful world of story-crafting – wish to be received.
I, for one, am still learning how to balance my anxiety of an audience with my fear of being forever stuck in the studio. I’m discovering that making space for readers does not make my words any less honest. And thankfully, I’m learning that unlike dance, this is not a one-performance act.
thanks for enduring my extended dance metaphor (two years after quitting and I still can’t seem to get away from it),