Friday, January 6, 2012

How Irish Dancing is Like Writing a Book

I started my eldest daughter, Lily, in Irish dancing two years ago. It was fun. She was a happy five year old with a short attention span but able to hear the beat. She currently knows the Reel, Light Jig, Single Jig, and Slip Jig -- all soft shoe.
A solo dress - something novice/prizewinners can wear.

In Irish you progress in levels through competition in a Feis (pronounced feh-sh or fay-sh depending who's talking). She started as pre-beginner in three dances and Beginner 1 in one dance. Next Feis she will compete in Beginner 1 in all four plus any additional dances she will learn (next comes hard shoe). Depending on her place, she may progress to Beginner 2 in any or all of the dances. Then comes Novice, Prizewinner, and then I lose track. She has to win at each dance in each level.  It is possible to be a Novice in the Reel and Light Jig but still a Beginner 2 in the Single Jig -- it all depends on the dancer ability (and the ability of the dancers she is competing against.)

With the progressions of  levels come the costumes. Currently she has to wear a simple school uniform, soft shoes, red bloomers, and Irish socks. When I bought the Irish socks, I chose not to buy the $12 sock glue. The saleswoman was horrified until I told her it was Lily's first Feis. Then it became acceptable so long as I knew it would be required later.

Really? Sock glue? Required? What did I sign up for? I thought my little girl was just going to hop around and be cute. NOPE. She is now registered among the other OCD Irishophiles (because you must be in order to actually enjoy all this) in America and that includes buy in to all the random little regulations. Apparently I drank the kool aid, but under the impression it was Crystal Light. Now I'm screwed.

If Lily continues to love this (which I support), I'm looking at years of competitions, costumes, travel/hotels, and random little expenses like bejeweled shoe buckles, under arm guard, hair pieces, and self tanner (sooooo many orange legged girls).

How is this like writing? It starts out innocent and sweet. You have a story to tell. You sit and type and eventually have a book. YAY FOR YOU! This is like Lily's dance classes. It was an investment of time and energy, but ultimately harmless and gave a feel good sense of accomplishment.

Then you decide to take your show on the road. Query letters seem so simple at first, but they're not. Each agent has their specific requirements. Different publishers require different word counts for your genre. AND that's if you wrote to genre specifications in the first place. If you didn't, you better get your but in gear and research, edit, and revise. Your gentle spirited book has become and aggressive machine competing against the millions of other submissions the agents and publishers get every day. Who knows what will make the difference, catch the attention and get you that big break. It would be foolish not to try everything. You should blog, tweet, participate in competitions, get your name out there and become a recognized member of the writing community. You are no longer a solitary writer pecking away at your keyboard. You are playing in the big leagues with heavy hitters. You can persevere and just keep plugging until you rise tier by tier, or you can choose to let it crush your spirit.

The St. Patrick's season is coming upon us. Lily is skilled enough to participate in some of the performances, and she will want to so I'll make it happen. I actually look forward to the crazy dress (because I can make it - I have the skills), but do not look forward to the scheduling, traveling, hotels, and necessity of sock glue.

1 comment:

Susan Kane said...

Let's try bubble gum! Or maybe duct tape?
Last night was some big finals of the Tiara & Toddler thing. I looked at the 5 year old's false teeth, with the tan and wig, and felt horror. With Irish dancing, there is a skill that is showcased. It is blurred by the crazy show-biz that has crept in. Sad.

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