Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dance Like Everyone's Watching

Dancer, by Dan Pellig, 2003
I've been thinking about the advice to "dance like there's nobody watching."* Recently, I had occasion to spend a little time with the young children of a friend, and I was struck by how oppositely they behaved. Everything they did -- jumping on the trampoline, playing piano, working a puzzle -- was an occasion to say, Look at me! Watch me do this! I wonder how so many of us lose that exuberant self-confidence, that joy in sharing, that pleasure of being the center of attention (and knowing that everyone is dancing with us, through us). To be sure, lots of adults do all kinds of things to get attention, but rarely with such generosity of spirit.

(I had the privilege of watching Margot Fonteyn dance, and she demonstrated perfectly the contagious delight in her own excellence.)

So what does this have to do with writing? Some of us write as if nobody is watching, and others as if everybody is watching. For me, I need to do both. My own writing works best when it has both intensely private moments and extravagantly inclusive moments. I need to engage both the child who want everyone in the world to feel how marvelous this thing she's doing is, and the child?adult? who shuts out that world so she can listen only, only to the tiny voice inside.

*(I have not been able to track down the author; answers on range from Mark Twain to Susan Clark to William Purkey, so I offer my apologies and applause to whoever did write it.)

No comments:

Post a Comment