Saturday, May 22, 2010

Choreographer or Dancer?

We are now a little less than three weeks away from my dance recital. Our group is now going to be in four different numbers: 1) Billion Dollar Baby (jazz), 2) Happy Feet (tap--not penguins), 3) Hold Your Dream (singing! as a gospel choir) and 4) Sing Sing Sing (jazz for a small part of the finale). That's a lot of time on stage.

A group of us are getting together as often as possible outside of class to go over the routines. "How many times do we do the Suzy Qs?" "Should the arms be up or down on that move?" OF course, the more times we do it, the better. As Reggie says, "Repetition is my friend." I'm feeling pretty good about understanding the routines. I know what step follows what and how they fit in with the music. Once we get started, I'm pretty okay at getting through to the end. So far so good.

However, I'm not happy with my execution of the individual steps. My feet feel sloppy. Part of that is being on heels, especially with the tap numbers. Most of the dancing should be on the balls of the feet, but my heels are dragging. It muffles the sounds so that you don't have that nice crisp tap sound.

On my own, I'm getting back to basics. Flaps, shuffles, time steps, paradiddles. That's what I really need to work on.

It's funny, because I feel that it's just the opposite with writing. I feel okay about the basics. It's how it all fits together. What follows what and how does that build on what comes before? Part of the issue is that the writer is both the dancer and the choreographer. I don't just have to learn the routine, I have create it.

So, where do you feel most confident? Choreography (plotting, putting it all together) or Dancing (characterization, dialog, action, grammar)? Or are you Bob Fosse, Merce Cunningham, or Suzanne--our teacher? Are you confident with all of it?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Good Enough?

Saturday I spent a good part of the day organizing the basement. I found a lot of old writing. Some were from critique groups past that somehow never found their way back home. Some were submissions to Apollo's Lyre or the PPW NewsMag. Those hit the new, heavy-duty shredder. Many were short stories or early versions of MMG.

It was amazing how many different iterations it's been through. There's the yellow one, the blue one, the pink one, the gray one and now the green one. That's a lot of writing and rewriting. And a lot of trees sacrificed.

My protagonist is nineteen-year-old Kitty Stuart. She wants her mother to haunt her, but in Kitty's attempt to piss her mother off enough to do it, Kitty falls in love with a twice-divorced, alcoholic twelve years her senior. That's what will end up haunting her, or worse.

In the earliest version, I started the book when Kitty's mother was ten years old. Okay a bit of a running start. Second version was going to be alternating chapters of Kitty and her mother as a girl to compare/contrast their lives. Again, way too early. The third one starts with Kitty as a senior in high school to show her life before and then after her mother's death.

The fourth one starts at the mother's funeral, and while it can be argued that that is where the story starts, it was confusing to throw the reader into a huge extended family scene. They don't know this girl yet so there's no connection to what she's feeling. This one was read by a few people and I consistently got that comment.

So, now we're on number five. We start with Kitty "running away" with her beau. I'll find out in two weeks if it's the right place.

It was good to note that each version improved on the one before it. There are a lot of years of writing represented there. One would hope that reading and attending workshops and conferences and getting feedback would help. And I do believe it has.

Now I'm trying to not anticipate what the CWC+ will say about this latest incarnation. But of course I am. Throw it under the bed? Major changes or just minor ones? How many more times through? And the biggest one of all, which they can't answer: Do I have it in me to do another major rewrite of this one?

And the big existential writing question: When is it good enough?

I don't expect anyone to answer those here. That's what the group is for. Except maybe that very last one. When do you know it's good enough?